|Republic of Iceland|
Area 103,000 sq.km. A volcanic island in the North Atlantic; mountainous, largely barren with many large glaciers.
Capital Reykjavik 105,487. Urbanites 92%.
Other 4.1% (mostly European). Danish 2,250; Swedish 1,500.
Literacy 100%. Official language Icelandic. All languages 2. Languages with Scriptures 1Bi.
The fishing industry has been the largest income source, but conservation measures limit this. Enormous potential in hydro and thermal power resources, allowing for cheap aluminium processing. Unemployment 3.9%. HDI 0.919; 9th/174. Public debt 45.5% of GNP. Income/person $27,580 (87.9% of USA).
The world's oldest parliament, established in 930. Under Norwegian and Danish rule 1262-1944. Parliamentary republic, and a member of NATO.
The Lutheran Church is still recognized as the State Church, but there is religious freedom.
1 Missions vision is small, but growing, despite Iceland's geographical and cultural isolation. YWAM's influence over the past years, and the 1996 formation of the Icelandic Mission Movement are positive factors. The evangelical/Pentecostal churches are encouraging short term missions (about 80 have gone in the past 3 years). Joint outreaches with other churches in North Atlantic/Scandanavian countries are being developed. Pray that the believing Church becomes ever more an outward-looking missionary Church.
1 The majority of Icelanders are only nominally Christian. As modern society drifts away from faith, the rates of suicide, substance abuse, and crime have all increased. Most Icelanders have had some involvement with New Age ideologies, the occult, and other such practices. Some of the more isolated areas are spiritual wastelands, with almost no active Christianity at all. Ask the Lord to arrest this spiritual slide and awaken Icelanders to their spiritual needs.
2 The Lutheran and smaller, but similar, Free Churches are often compromised by liberal theology and practice; many are opposed to the preaching of the true gospel. A few pastors and congregations remain faithful, and in some cases congregations are growing. Pray that they might prosper in the Lord. Only a fraction of members actually attend church. Pray for a surge of new vigour and fervour in the congregations, the leadership and the Theological Faculty where all pastors are trained.
3 Evangelical believers number only about 9,000. YWAM ceased operations after their work within the Lutheran Church saw little fruit. But the growing Pentecostal and charismatic churches are displaying admirable unity and cooperation. They are at the forefront of a move to plant an evangelical congregation within two hours' drive of every person. Since 1996 the Pentecostals together with World Horizons have run a 3 month Bible school and the ex-YWAM training centre has become a residential Christian training community. These programmes are having a strong positive impact upon the life of the Church in general. Pray that the living faith and unity of Evangelicals might open the hearts of many to the good news.
4 KSF(IFES) work among the 3,000 university students is proving fruitful, and there are many encouraging signs in the evangelical youth movements. Pray that those who love the Lord may maintain a glowing testimony where indifference is so widespread.
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