Northern Sweden has a unique season that they call spring-winter! It’s when there is still LOTS and LOTS of snow, but yet the sun shines bright and warm! During this season, it’s very popular to walk out on the ice road and have a nice bar-b-que. We didn’t want to miss this experience so we arranged for our small group to do this. It was soooooo fun!! Our group gathered our supplies – wood, lighting fluid, hot dogs, rolls, vegetables, chips, soda, etc. and started our walk of about a half hour. It was a very slushy walk as the snow and ice is beginning to melt from the warm sun. Once we arrived, we could see that it is definitely spring as the grill was standing in about 10 cm (4 inches) of water. We had such a great time of relaxing fun. I hope you enjoy the slideshow!
Everyone did such a great job on the Christmas Play, Åsneexpressen (The Donkey Express)! They were all awesome!! It was a wonderful blend of fun, great music, and the wonderful account of Jesus, the Christ! They preformed it 5 times total, 3 of those times for all the schools in Luleå!! We don’t have a video, but here is a slide show for you. We hope you enjoy it!!! Merry Christmas! God Jul! Gwen 🙂
Pastor Richard and leaders of the church in Kiruna
Last Friday and Saturday, Tony traveled with our pastor (Richard) to Kiruna – 90 miles above the Arctic Circle. Three local pastors have been going there to help a church in this mining town of 18,000 get back on its feet. It was great to listen to these people who love God so much as they prayed for wisdom and discernment regarding the future of the church. The temperature is already dropping in Kiruna, but the hearts of the people in this church continue to be on fire for the Lord. This land is being reclaimed by God as His own and we are privileged to be part of His work!
The four-hour drive each way allowed Tony and Richard to really get to know each other and to share some of our visions and dreams for this region. We saw several reindeer lazily walking onto and across the highway we were on with obviously no fear of cars. Richard stated that most of these animals belonged to herders and were allowed to freely roam. And of course, there was also the obligatory stop at the sign marking the exact line of the Arctic Circle.
The Martins can’t wait to come back to see the spectacular beauty of this region in the winter! In the meantime, we’ll pray for the church there. Will you join us?
Last weekend Luleå held their eighth annual festival celebrating food, games and entertainment that drew thousands of people from the town and surrounding areas. Several churches have used the opportunity to set up a tent in the middle of the busiest pedestrian area and offer food and a place people could listen to Christian bands, hear testimonies and just sit and hang out. Inside and around the tent, people mingled with the crowd, talked with them and sought ways to spread the gospel.
Main pedestrian walkway at the festival. The orange tent is where Tony shared about Jesus.
Tony was there Saturday night and saw so many who were with other people, yet seemed so lonely. We’ve been told that when girls here turn 13 or 14, their parents give them keys to the house and allow them to come home whenever they want to. Many even fix up the basement as a room where their daughters can “entertain” their boyfriends for the night. This is simply seen as a normal part of growing up in this land. Tony personally saw so many in their early teens roaming the festival grounds – even at 4:00am – and he prayed God would keep them safe.
Tony was part of the tent outreach ministry and was able to share Christ with about seven people – he couldn’t believe how receptive people were. Most of the people knew about God, but had no desire to know Him personally – they held on to the false hope that God would allow them into heaven because He forgives everyone and they had done more good than bad in their lifetime. One fellow said he thinks about what will happen after he dies every night and it concerns him. Another young fellow has a Muslim father and a Christian mother and said he knew both religions well and the “only” difference between them is how Jesus is seen – he said he’ll choose his religion later when he doesn’t have so much on his plate.
We sense a real spiritual battlefield here in Luleå with eternal destinies at stake. However, we know God has not turned his back on these people! The Holy Spirit is piercing hearts as evidenced by people’s questions and willingness to listen. We continue to need your prayers so God will use us for His glory!