Area: 30,528 sq km
One of the Low Countries; often called The Crossroads of Western Europe.
Population: 10,697,588 Annual Growth: 0.54%
Capital: Brussels. Capital of the EU and headquarters of NATO
Official language: Flemish, French and German Languages: 29 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
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Specific outreach challenges:
a) Spiritually, Belgium is one of the most needy countries in Europe, with great spiritual apathy and faith largely banished from the public sphere.
b) The areas of greatest need the smaller towns and villages in the Flemish-speaking areas and the Francophone Ardennes region (Liège, Namur and Luxembourg).
c) Brussels is a strategic city. The capital regions population is over 1.1 million. It is 32% foreign, 8% evangelical and close to 13% Muslim (largely Moroccan and Turk) with over 45 nationalities of 1,000 people or more. It ranges from increasing numbers of impoverished neighbourhoods to growing communities of affluent young professionals, from the often-isolated and marginalized immigrant groups to the powerful Eurocratic community. Pray for the various church and mission programmes reaching out to the diverse facets of Brussels society Serve the City (Christian Associates), BEM, IMB and AoG are but a few of many.
d) Antwerp now has over 100 evangelical congregations (up from 10 in 1970), but 80% are non-Flemish. The unity and cooperation between these churches is commendable. A number of local and international ministries are reaching out to the large Moroccan community. The majority of Belgiums Orthodox Jewish population live in Antwerp with little or no outreach to them.
e) Muslim peoples (North Africans, Turks, Kurds) have increased through legal and illegal immigration the majority living in poorer urban areas. Muslims are the second-largest religious population, and there are now 380 mosques in Belgium. There is some outreach, with a handful of Arabic-speaking congregations, two Kurdish and one Turkish fellowship of believers, but many more workers are needed.
f) Asian communities. OMF reports nine Chinese churches in Belgium, and the AoG has one couple working among the Chinese. BEM has a Japanese couple working within the Japanese community and have planted a Japanese church. A number of other Asian communities (Korean, Vietnamese, Sri Lankan, Iranian, Filipino) have at least one church each.
g) The Eastern European population is rapidly growing Polish, Russians, Bulgarians, Kosovars, Romanians and others. Only the Romanians have a significant number of evangelical congregations; the Polish and Kosovars have none. There is little or no outreach to these peoples.
h) The student population of over 250,000 students, in 17 universities and numerous colleges, is a major challenge. IFES has a ministry in seven Flemish universities (Ichthus with 150 students involved) and in several French universities (GBU). The small work grows very slowly, despite the large number of students. OM, AoG, YWAM and others have active student ministries, often through coffee houses, Bible studies or conferences.
i) The missions vision of immigrant churches is beginning to develop. The great outreach potential in these churches is as yet unrealized. Reaching out effectively to native Belgians is a step beyond the evangelism they already do among their own immigrant populations, but they are starting to be effective at planting churches among other immigrant populations.
Christian media and support ministries pray for their effective use:
a) Christian literature is produced by EHC, SU, Biblical Literature in French (BLF), OM, BEM, YWAM and AoG. BLF has a large printing press and has published over 500 titles.
b) Christian bookstores number 18 (10 in French, 8 in Dutch) BEM with 7.
c) Electronic media. A total of 5.5 hours of TV annually and 5.5 hours of radio weekly are produced by the evangelical ERTS for national Flemish TV and radio channels. Increasingly, churches and ministries utilize the Internet for outreach and discipleship, with specific focus on youth and childrens sites. There are number of full-time evangelical Internet radio stations operating in Belgium.
d) Christian political initiatives such as CAxent, Chrétiens Démocrates Francophones and VCD serve the political arena through election and support of politicians with Christian values.
e) Innovative outreach is increasing to the often-overlooked segments of society. Such outreach includes Bible exhibits on river barges (BEM), ministry to seafaring crews from around the world docking at Belgian ports (Open Air Campaigners), outreach to bars (YWAM), Christian centres for marriage and family counselling and for women in crisis and a Mennonite Centre for family/community reconciliation. Serve the City is impacting a number of Belgian cities by combining practical service with sharing the gospel.
For an additional 8 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Belgium.