Hands across the globe: Austria
Throughout 2014, we’re highlighting an ICOMB partner so you can support our brothers and sisters around the world by learning about and praying for them.
Mennonitische Freikirche Österreich
(Mennonite Free Church of Austria)
During the Protestant Reformation, 80% of Austrians followed the Reformers, particularly Luther. But under the Hapsburg Counter-Reformation, many of the citizens became re-Catholicized and the Roman Catholic church became a dominant power in religious society.
Today, some three-quarters of Austrians identify as Christian, 73.6% as Roman Catholic, 4.7% as mainline Protestant, with the free church (including Baptists, Pentecostals and Mennonites) comprising less than one percent of Austria’s 8 million people.
The first MB church in Austria rose out of North American Mennonite relief ministry to Eastern European refugees following WWII.
MB Mission’s Richard Funk reports openness to the gospel among the younger generation in a country where many are disillusioned with the church.
Recently, the Austrian government offered free church denominations state recognition if they could partner under one umbrella. Aug. 26, 2013, a partnership of 5 evangelical denominations representing 160 churches – including the MFO – were granted legal status. This new law opens the door for free-church religion classes in public schools, prison and hospital ministry, access to public media, the right to show films in church and an easier visa process for mission workers.
PRAISE GOD for the unity between the 5 evangelical denominations and the miracle of a change of heart among Austria’s government officials.
PRAY for student ministries in Vienna’s 7 universities.
PRAY that MB congregations will find creative ways to reach their neighbourhoods with the gospel.