Oslo, a Norwegian city known for its beautiful beaches and 19th century architecture, also serves as home to MDGC 2016 champions like Joakim Magnus, a dynamic Youth With A Mission (YWAM) base leader currently working to advance gospel movement in this Scandinavian capital. This month, we took some time to connect with Joakim to learn more about Oslo’s journey towards gospel movement.
The gospel landscape in Oslo is at a unique juncture, with the city containing a relatively low number of church goers as compared to the rest of Norway, a statistic which stands in contrast to a growing number of churches in the city. States Joakim, “compared to the rest of Norway, especially the South and West, the numbers of churchgoers are low in Oslo. On the other hand, we are now experiencing a unity among churches and Christian organizations that was unthinkable only 20 years ago. New churches keep emerging and we currently have more than 90 immigrant churches in Oslo.” Gospel movement in Oslo remains slow and steady, the work of transformation ongoing. Observes Joakim, “A lot of good things are happening and people are coming to faith, but not in large numbers. We still have a long way to go to see our city transformed.”
Oslo’s movement towards greater unity can be, in part, attributed to the inception of “Prayer for Oslo” – a week of city-wide prayer initiated in 2001. Affirms Joakim, “‘Prayer for Oslo’ has been important on many different levels. First of all, it has created stronger unity amongst the churches, and brought the churches closer to the needs and challenges of the city. Through ‘Prayer for Oslo’ the city’s inhabitants, institutions, and government have received intercession.” City leaders are known to join alongside church leaders for the purpose of considering how greater unity and collaboration can take place in the city. Observes Joakim, “The Mayor of Oslo and other leaders of the city have participated in the event to tell about the needs of the city. This has resulted in greater trust and understanding between the Church and society.” Indeed, at one of the sessions during a recent ‘Prayer for Oslo’ the city’s Mayor apprised participants of Oslo’s greatest and most surprising area of need – loneliness. Indeed, Joakim reports, “A huge part of Oslo’s population struggles with loneliness, and are longing for real friendship. The challenge from the governing Mayor is something we as a church need to take to heart and do something about it.”
As leaders of a YWAM base, Joakim and his wife’s daily work intimately connects them to this challenge of loving the population of Oslo. States Joakim, “When my wife and I started YWAM in Oslo 4 years ago, we felt God gave us a simple vision – to make everyday disciples. Our goal has never been to make a big YWAM work or YWAM base but to see a wave of young disciples transforming the capital of Norway.” At the heart of this mission was a desire to see collaboration and a greater sense of unity take root. Joakim shares, “to be able to see a city like Oslo truly being impacted by the gospel we need unity in the Body of Christ and to think bigger than our own church or organization. We need to take responsibility for our city.”
Movement Day it seems, has played a pivotal role in shaping Joakim’s vision for gospel movement within the city of Oslo. Exclaims Joakim, “Especially after being connected with Movement Day it’s been a dream in my heart to see leaders from the business world, and from organizations and churches, unite in prayer and work together to see change in Oslo.” Joakim and a delegation of leaders from Oslo will be joining us for MDGC 2016 in New York City this October. This group of leaders includes delegates from the church, business, and broader nonprofit organizational sector of Oslo, connected in their common desire “to see greater unity and gospel initiatives take place” in their city. Enthuses Joakim, “We hope our participation in Movement Day will bear fruit for the future and that Oslo can be a catalyst and inspiration for other cities in Europe. Already many churches and organizations in Oslo are working and experiencing God’s Kingdom expanding in Europe.”
Will you join us in lifting up the city of Oslo and all those working to advance gospel movement in prayer? Affirms Joakim, “You can pray for us and with us. We are aware that nothing happens without prayer. And if you have Oslo on your heart we would love to connect with you.”