Wednesday, March 30, 2016

God's word goes out and does not return void: Faroe Islands

I love mission stories. It warms my heart to hear tales of past missionaries' work, and the fruit their work might be bearing nowadays. I love to hear of people turning to solid ministries to seek truth in sermons, books, or commentaries. That's why this monthly letter I receive from John MacArthur's Grace to You ministry was a refreshing balm to a weary soul. I hope it encourages you as well.


Source: Google map

----------begin excerpted letter-------------
The Faroe Islands 
It's hard to fully express our overwhelming joy as we see the Lord blessing and working through the ministry of Grace To you. He is doing glorious things all across the planet- including in places I've known little about until recently. 
The Faroe Islands is one such place. After a worship service at Grace Community Church, where I pastor, a man named Bernhard introduced himself to me. While visiting the United States on business, he wanted to meet me so he could express his gratitude for Grace to You's ministry to him and others in his obscure corner of the world. 
The Faroe Islands comprise eighteen small, rocky islands halfway between Norway and Iceland. Their jagged cliffs are lashed year-round by powerful Arctic winds. While the natural scenery is stunning, tourism is limited due to the nation's remote location. The major industry is commercial fishing in the volatile North Sea. 
Over the centuries, the Faroese people have endured Viking invasions, the Black Death, (which killed half the population), and many seagoing tragedies. those historic challenges, along with isolation and elements to which the Faroese are exposed, have forged a small but resilient population of just 50,000. As you can imagine, reaching the Faroese with the gospel also involved some resilience. 
No true evangelistic work ever took root on the Faroe Islands until 1865 when a Scottish missionary, William Sloan, arrived. While in Scotland, Sloan had been forced by his fiancee to choose between marriage and the Faroe mission field. To the benefit of the Faroese, including those living today, he sailed alone to fish for souls in a land of pagan fishermen. Through many years of going door to door selling books and conducting Bible studies, William Sloan established thirty-six churches spread among the islands. Evangelicals in the Faroes now make up one of the highest percentages of evangelicals on any nation on earth. 
I didn't even know that population existed until the last few days. But my education has been rapid thanks to my encounter with Bernhard. he gave me two fascinating books, which I immediately read. But the letter Bernhard handed me made a greater impression, a letter that in a sense, involves you and friends like you.
John, my dear brother, what a blessing your ministry has been in my life. I have listened to many hundreds of your sermons over the past five years. Without your teaching, how empty my understanding and life would be. The Faroese church desperately needs a reformation. Like churches elsewhere, our churches are really falling apart.  That is why Grace To You's online teaching is such a sweet and fresh breeze to our hearts.  At forty-six, I am the oldest of five brothers; we all listen to your sermons. We have your commentaries and many of your other books as well. many of my friends also listen. I guess what I'm trying to say is that we really love you and hope to see you in the Faroes sometime.
God's word never returns void- it always accomplishes His divine, saving sanctifying, comforting, and equipping work. While we call ourselves a mass-media ministry, our focus isn't the size of our reach. It's not about numbers of people.  We are all about unpacking God's word for individual men and women, verse by verse. There are no unimportant issues or people. And thanks to the technology at our disposal,  there's essentially no area too small or remote to reach. What an exciting time to minister biblical truth.
----------end excerpted letter-------------

Source: Google maps


Further reading

CNN: Faroe Islands, Bleak, Beautiful Land of Grass Roofs

The Atlantic: Faroe Islands in Pictures

Faroe Islands, Backbone of our monarchy
When he arrived 27 years old in 1865 he had to start from scratch.  The language was Faroese, but the language of the church and the whole Civil Service was Danish.  He worked 13 years without seeing any fruit and being often scorned by the dead Lutheran state church –  but then awakenings broke out, and many new assemblies were spontaneously planted.


4 comments :

  1. Are you people CRAZY, have you ever heard of the "Grind", it is a ritual held every summer where as the people of the Faroe Islands round up hundreds of pilot whales they are the smallest of the whale family in case you do not know. The whales are trapped near the shore and whole families use spears and hack them to death for no apparent reason other than they are blood thirst bastards. I am very surprised Grace has not heard of this sick practice. The babies scream for their dying mothers and the youngest of the Faroe children stab the calves until they are dead. The whole lagoon and shore are blood red and the bodies of the whales are left to rot. And you call this sick people christians? May be you should preach to these people about slaughtering God's creatures for entertainment. Look it up on Google it is called the Grind. Amazing you have not heard of it.

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    1. Hello Diane,

      Thanks for your input. No "we people" are not crazy. No, I have not heard of The Grind. I did look it up and I discovered what I thought I'd find. The Faroes are isolated, with little to no ability to grow crops due to shallow soil and harsh weather that lasts a loooong time. During the winter months, the people rely on fish, salted fish, and other meager items for sustenance. The pilot whale hunt has been a tradition in the Faroes for 1000 years, since the Norse settled there.

      They are not slaughtered for entertainment, Diane. Granted, it is a horrific thing to us in modern times to see such brutality. Others who feel the same as you have brought pressure to bear and made the killing of the animals more humane, with the hunters having to pass a licensing process that includes education on how to humanely kill the animal. There are other regulations now too.

      When I googled it as you suggested, I discovered, "Whale meat and blubber are Faroese delicacies. Well into the 20th century, meat and blubber from the pilot whale was used to feed people for long periods of time. Everybody got a share, as is the custom to this day." It isn't a bloodthirsty entertainment for them, but a thousand year hunting tradition that helps the people who live there to survive. If you are concerned over free-wheeling, unregulated anarchy, vent about Burning Man rather than The Grind.

      It is not good to generalize, neither to generalize "the grindadrĂ¡p" the Faroese perform, nor the assumption that every single person who takes part in it are Christians. Nor is it good to assume that Christianity and animal hunting are mutually exclusive. In today's sanitized, cellophane meat wrapped grocery store world, we forget that there are places that must hunt animals to survive, and it isn't pretty. Also, in Genesis, God gave us dominion over the animals for food.

      I'm glad that there are regulations now concerning protections for both the human hunters and the animals. That's good. Otherwise, I do think it is not good to go on the internet and call people blood thirsty bastards. It isn't ladylike, it isn't appropriate, and if it happens again I will not post your comment. Thanks.

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  2. Elizabeth you are one cold hearted woman. I don't know how anyone can watch that slaughter and not at least shed one tear. I cry like a baby. And if you believe those whales are used for food you must have read some propaganda they (the Faroes) put on their web site. These poor creatures of GOD do not deserve the fate that is dealt them. I don't understand why you put people first. We along with all of God's creatons are EQUAL that it why I am a vegan I do not believe in killing any thing. You say it is a 1000 year old tradition, well slavery was one of our traditions should we bring that back...does it make something OK because we have done it for years. That is so much BS. Why can't you preach to the Faroe people about how this "tradition" is no longer needed or tolerated. My husband sends you people money for some unknown reason and I am surely going to put a stop to that because of your cold hearted feelings towards other beings. From now on our money will be given to Seashepherd Society who at least try and protect the pilot whales while you rake in millions of dollars to line your pockets. God Bless Diane

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    1. "These poor creatures of GOD do not deserve the fate that is dealt them. I don't understand why you put people first"

      I understand why you do not understand. You don't understand the God of the Bible and likely have no saving relationship with Him. If you did, you would understand that He created man in His image and we are NOT not equal to animals, who have no soul. We have dominion over animals, in other words, have Godly authority to rule over them, use them and eat them. (Genesis 9:2-3).

      I did google the issue as you suggested (you're welcome) but now since you don't like my conclusion, you demean my process and cast aspersions on the site from which I took the information. (Not Faroe-related website BTW). I did say that I'm glad they have protocols in place now that protect the animals and humanely kill them.

      I had wished that the information I shared regarding the advances the Faroese had made would mollify your heat a bit. I guess I was wrong. Our conversations is done since I do not believe a valid and open minded exchange of information with you can occur at this time, and the conversation is off topic anyway. Best wishes to you Diane.

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