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Tag Archives: Sweden
Community of Goods: the Best Way to Eradicate Poverty
To share everything is commanded in Scripture and eradicates poverty better than anything else.
Last week I was attending one of the bigger Christian conferences here in Sweden called Torp, where I was speaking on the topic of how to combine miracles, evangelism and social justice. I pointed to the fact that Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 does not just include signs and wonders but also community of goods, i.e. having all possessions in common so that nobody is rich and nobody is poor (Acts 2:44-45). I argued that if we want to resurrect the spiritual power and evangelism of the Biblical Pentecost we ought also want to resurrect community of goods. I developed my thoughts on community of goods and how it relates to Jesus’ command to sell everything one has in this MennoNerd video:
These thoughts were new and radical to several of those who were listening. Some were curious, others sceptical. One pastor in particular raised two objections. Firstly, he said, community of goods cannot be equated with using Spiritual gifts or doing evangelism because there is no command saying “practise community of goods”, just a description of how the early Christians did so. Secondly, the pastor thought that the Swedish evangelical church was already very generous when it comes to giving alms to the poor, so he saw no need of preaching community of goods as something we should resurrect in evangelicalism.
My direct response to his first question repeated what I had been saying in the lecture, and that I briefly talk about in the video above, namely that community of goods is the practical application of Jesus’ command to sell everything one has and give the money to the poor – which he gives not just to one rich young ruler (Mk 10:21) but to all his disciples (Lk 12:33). Jesus himself practised community of goods with his disciples (Jn 13:29), and he told them to teach their new disciples to do everything he had commanded them to do (Mt 28:20). To sell everything one has doesn’t mean to live completely without possessions, for then the early Christians would have been nudists, instead we see how the community of goods in the book of Acts is described as being the consequence of the early Christians selling everything they have (Acts 4:32-35).
The Desperate Need for Christian Hospitality
Have you ever wanted to meet an angel? If so, let some homeless people into your home.
Scripture says: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebr 13:2). And even if the person we’re hosting turns out to be mere human, that’s not a very big problem since we are then simply doing a very good deed: “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” (Rom 12:13).
In Sweden where I live, almost 50% of all the households are single households, meaning that only one person lives in them. We have almost half a million vacation houses standing empty most months of the year. And yet, so many – even Christians – are arguing that we don’t have space for more immigrants, that we should send Syrian refugees back to war and Romanian beggars back to misery. How about showing some hospitality instead?
Yesterday I defended my paper on the Isreli-Palestinian conflict and since it seems to have gone pretty well, this means that I know can graduate with a bachelor’s degree in peace and development studies. And it’s summer break! Now, I will get much-needed time to work on some really cool projects that I’ve felt God wants me to do.
First of all, I will spend more time writing on my book. An American publisher has given me the opportunity and honor to publish a work on church history through them. The main thesis of the book is that Christian movements that have emphasized evangelism and miracles have almost always also emphasized peace, justice and social activism. I hope to get the project finished by the end of this year.
Secondly, I will release my very first documentary film. It’s about how the Jesus Army in the UK practice community of goods, and will hopefully give insights on how it’s not only possible but also really nice to share all one’s stuff with others. Half the movie is already edited, and I hope to get this thing done this summer.
Thirdly, I will of course continue to blog here as well as publish videos on my Youtube channel. I have an unfinished blog series on a Biblical, non-Zionist perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which could be suitable to pick up now that I’ve studied the actual conflict a bit more, and when it comes to the Youtube videos I’m thinking about perhaps posting some theological sketches that could be fun to do, and perhaps reboot my old God vs Wealth series to some better quality. We’ll see, God knows 🙂
Away from keyboard, I will visit and speak at some Christian conferences here in Sweden, travel to the Jesus Army together with some friend as well as rest, enjoy God’s creation, evangelize and help the poor.
So, what are you up to this summer? And would you like to help me out in some of my projects? Let me know in the comments!
I’m Obliged to Help the Poor
Today I’ve spent some six hours with my Romanian friends, buying them a caravan. They used to sleep in a car. Northern Europe has seen a lot of Romanian economic refugees, due to the mistreatment if the Roma minority in the country. Romas (also known as the degrading name “gypsies”) are Europe’s most discriminated ethnic minority, especially in eastern Europe.
80% of Romanian Romas are unemployed, 30% can’t read, and their life expectancy is 10 years shorter than other Romanians. They’re trapped in poverty, not getting the social security they need, and then they migrate to other European countries to beg. Here, they lack homes, education and health care. It’s a mess.
I love them so much. Most of them are Pentecostal and we pray and worship together. I see Jesus in them. They are poorer than those I met when I was in Africa two years ago. I’m obliged to help them.
God wants equality. I know that I am destined to share community of goods with several of these people. I’ve identified a few families that could stay here in Sweden and build their lives here. Others have their future in Romania or another country. One woman I got to know here in Uppsala moved to Coventry, where I helped her to get in touch with the Jesus Army.
When I help the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why people are poor, why we are rich and why children have to sleep in cold cars in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, they call me a communist and extremist. But it was my Master, Jesus, who said “blessed are you who are poor… But woe to you who are rich!” (Lk 6:20, 24). I’m following His footsteps. And He walks among, and in, the homeless Romanians on the streets of Europe.
Co-Suffering with Jesus and the Poor
I attended a 48-hours prayer meeting a couple of years back in Stockholm, and during a worship session a dear friend of mine approached me, asking me to pray for her so that she may receive the same passion for the poor that the Lord has given me. I was so glad that this was what she wanted, but as I started praying I realized that it would be impossible for her to have the same passion as I have without feeling the pain and suffering of making sacrifices, knowing more about the horrible face of poverty and realizing how many it is that do not get help.
This was why I became an activist in the first place – I realized that innocent people were dying while I was playing video games and dreamt of getting a car and a house. I just prayed that God would make it impossible for my friend to close her eyes to the suffering of the poor, and that she would partake in their suffering.
I don’t know if she ever got the same passion for them as I have, at least she’s not revealing it as clearly on Facebook 🙂 But there and then I think we both realized that this was truly what was necessary for passion. When we follow Christ, a cross is always attached. As He Himself said:
“Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple… suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:27, 31-33)
“Go Out, Come In” – a New (or Old) Type of Church Service
I love my church! Uppsala Mosaik is a small house church in Uppsala, Sweden (not to be confused with the mega church Mosaic in Los Angeles, California (we’re way smaller than them)) focusing on the Kingdom of God. We’re evangelical, charismatic and activist, and our aim is, like many other churches, to love God and love people.
When I visited Mosaik for the first time in 2010, I was amazed by its structure. We met in a pub back then. We had coffee break in the middle of the service, between worship and Jesus stories. Jesus stories, by the way, are when everyone can share a testimony about what Jesus has done in their life. And when the service was coming to an end, students flooded the pub while Mosaik volontueers started to serve free pancakes.
I sat down with the pastor, Hans Sundberg, and he explained the theology behind what Mosaik looked like. In Sweden, people are leaving churches like crazy, so that statistically, if the drop-off speed would remain at this rate, there would be no Christians here in 2040. Now, God is good and we pray for revival, but Hans was convinced that the church must leave the old Christendom-structures that builds large cathedrals expecting people to fill them, and becoming sad when they don’t.
The Bible describes how the early Christians were able to speak new existing languages when the Holy Spirit baptized them. There are reports of this happening in modern times as well.
J.W. Hutchins was baptised by the Holy Spirit at the Asuza Street revival in Los Angeles in 1906, and when she spoke in tongues a man who had been a missionary to Uganda exclaimed that she spoke the Luganda language. She also heard the external, audible voice of God telling her to go to Africa, so she became a missionary.
My pastor Hans Sundberg experienced something similar when he was evangelizing on the streets of Uppsala, Sweden, in the 70’s. He was debating with a man from Iran who believed in Bahá’í, when his friend Maria came and prayed for him silently. She prayed louder and louder, and Hans realized that she was praying in tongues. The Iranian man dropped his jaw and stared at Maria, understanding every word. She was speaking in Farsi about Jesus, although she didn’t know farsi.
In 2011, Hans was visiting Nepal to teach at a Bible school run by Touching Asia. During a prayer session before class, a man at the front spoke loudly in tongues. Afterwards, another student came to him and asked him some questions, and everyone became really excited. hans asked them what was going on, and they explained that there are over 20 languages in Nepal, and when the man had spoken in tongues he had been unknowingly prophesying to the other man in his own language, that wasn’t spoken by so many, about a coming revival to his village. (more…)
Taking the Fight Against Heretic Xenophobic Christianity
Christians have so many times ignored the teachings of Jesus and become racists instead. It happened during the crusades. It happened in Nazi Germany. It happened in apartheid South Africa. Christians argued for racism, xenophobia and inequality, claiming that white Europeans were elected by God to rule over and even kill other ethnicities. There arguments however, have been extremely weak, since the Bible does not support white pride. Come on, Europeans are hardly even present in the Bible, and the Saviour of the world is a middle eastern Jew!
Yesterday, the xenophobic Swedish party known as the Sweden Democrats forced re-elections after refusing to let the government’s budget go through, and they also threatened that they will do so with every budget that doesn’t accept their demands of cutting non-white immigration. Since neither the left coalition nor the right have majority, this means trouble. Needless to say, this has produced a lot of debate in our little country, and while most Christians emphasize that we need to push back against the rise of racism and neo-fascism, more and more Christians are either joining the Sweden Democrats, or lobbying for the conservative coalition, where the Christian Democrats is a member, should listen to and cooperate with the racists.
As we’re experiencing a racist revival among Christians in all of Europe, the old bad arguments that were used by Nazi Lutherans and Apartheid Presbyterians pop up again. I will deal with these in depth when I have time, but for now let me just give some quick comments to the most common ones:
“Acts 17:26 says ‘From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.'”
Breaking News: Helping the Poor Actually Helps the Poor!
Recently I’ve noticed how several politicians try to argue that helping the poor does not help the poor. In the Swedish town of Linköping the train station has forbidden homeless Romas to stay in their facilities – they’ve even blocked the electric sockets to stop them from charging their phones. Joakim Kärnborg from Linköping municipality defends this decision by saying: “I think we would do the migrants a disservice by isolating them in a warm and cosy place to be in.”
Meanwhile in Florida, a 90-year-old Christian man who is helping the poor through an organization called Love Thy Neighbor, was arrested the other day. His crime was that he was giving food to the homeless. I kid you not, an officer shouted “Drop that plate immediately!” as if it was a gun, and arrested him for homeless feeding.
See, Fort Lauderdale has passed through a law that makes it illegal to hand out food to hungry people, along with other laws that forbids begging and sleeping in public places. Commissioner Dean Trantalis explained that in formulating these ordinances, “the rights of all individuals were addressed and the goals of keeping a safe and welcoming environment were maintained.” He then shared how surprised he was that a representative from a homeless activist group refused to talk to him about his brilliant ideas.
Breaking News: Giving Homes to Homeless People… Actually Defeats Homelessness!
I’m not a big fan of the Young Turks – them being not very devoted to Jesus – but I thought this clip was extremely funny and interesting when they point to the fact that giving free homes to homeless people… actually defeats homelessness:
The American state of Utah has been doing this for the last ten years – every homeless person gets a home and access to a social worker and a case worker who will help them getting a job, be intergrated in society and get mental health care if they need some. At first, the home is free, and if they get a job they’ll pay 30% of their income for the house. The result is that homelessness in Utah has decreased with 78% – and it turns out that they seem to have saved a lot of money: the annual cost for E.R. visits and jail stays for each homeless person is around $ 16,670, while the cost for a free home and a social worker for each homeless person was $11,000. Plus, they get a job quicker!
This model of housing first is being tried in more and more communities over the world. In my own town of Uppsala here in Sweden, the City Mission – a Christian charity working with homeless people – have actively proposed the model.
Some seem to be very surprised that giving homes to homeless people actually defeats homelessness and creates a better society. Now, don’t get shocked, but scientists suggest, that it may very well be so, that if we give food to hungry people, we will defeat hunger. There is even a slight possibility – I may be wrong – that if we give clothes to naked people, they will be clothed!
share your food with the hungry
and provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, clothe them,
and do not turn away from your own flesh and blood. (Is 58:7)
Sweden Under Attack?
Our news media is right now filled with reports and speculations concerning what the army calls “foreign underwater activity” in the Stockholm archipelago. Foreign media like the Guardian and ABC News have also reported on the story, making comparisions with how the Swedish navy were constantly looking for Soviet submarines during the Cold War (and, from time to time, found some). The Swedish military has not conformed that the underwater activity is either a submarine or Russian, but this is what most analysts seem to believe, and several military experts fear that Russia is either spying on Sweden’s defense capacity, or even preparing for war.
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” (Mt 24:6)
Just two months ago, Sweden celebrated 200 years of peace. While we do have sent troops to Afghanistan and other places under UN flag, and while we are one of the world’s primary weapon exporters, there has not been a war on Swedish soil for two centuries (it should also be mentioned that Sweden sold iron to Hitler during World War Two to avoid Germany to hit us).
How Should We Stop the Rise of European Racism?
The last couple of days I have been busy, partly with a big evangelistic event and partly with following the Swedish elections. The result was dramatic: the xenophobic and racist Sweden Democrats party doubled their support and became our third biggest party, and since neither the progressive nor the conservative coalitions have majority because of the Sweden Democrats, our new prime minister Stefan Löfven has a lot of headaches in trying to figure out how to govern without relying on the racists.
Sweden is obviously not immune to the sad trend that has characterised European politics the last 20 years: xenophobic, racist and fascist parties are entering European parliaments and gain a lot of influence. There is basically no European parliament left without a party that wants to cut immigration drastically and that point out minorities like Muslims, Roma or Jews as a national problem. Some parties, like Golden Dawn in Greece or Jobbik in Hungary, are clearly neo-Nazi and uses the same rhetoric that Hitler used 80 years ago against ethnic, religious and social minorities.
Naturally, many Europeans are worried that history will repeat itself, and countless theories and ideas concerning how we will stop the rise of racism and fascism have been discussed. They often contradict each other: some say we should ignore them, others that we should debate against them; some say we should be more generous towards immigrants, others that we should kick out more immigrants. What way is the correct one? How should we as Christians respond?
In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul talks about waging spiritual warfare against arguments and theoretical strongholds that are hostile towards Christ: “though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor 10:3-5)
“Is He a Medium?” “No, He’s a Christian”
A few days ago I attended a meeting with Simon Adahl, a musician and evangelist that has experienced many miracles. I have already written about how he was saved after his atheist wife saw the apostle Matthew, and how he and his friend Orjan prophesied in a Californian bar and told people stuff about them that they heard from God, which resulted in that four people received Jesus. Let me share with you some other cool things that they have experienced.
Simon loves missions, and when he attends the big Pentecostal conferences here in Sweden he is usually not on the platforms bragging about all the cool miracles he experiences, instead he is sitting in a booth marketing IBRA, a Swedish media missions organization, or Dagen, the biggest Christian newspaper. But of course, the Holy Spirit is active even when you’re not on a platform (thank God). This summer, a lady came to Simon and said that she had been healed from asthma.
“That’s great!” Simon said. “When did that happen?” “Two years ago, in the chair over there”, the lady responded and pointed inside Simon’s booth. This lady had been suffering from severe asthma since she was a little child, and had been using inhalers every night. She said that since the moment she was prayed for in the booth, all asthma disappeared and she hadn’t had a need for inhalers for two years.
Orjan was also at the meeting and he told us about how he and his wife went with Simon and his wife together with some friends from church on a holiday on a ferry to Finland. They were dancing at a club and when they sat down to have something to eat, they sat right by a man they hadn’t met before, who introduced himself as Peter. Orjan felt the Spirit of the Lord coming upon him and he told Peter “Right now, God is renewing your life!” And he commanded him to prophesy over them.
The Gang of God in India and Sweden
I have a facebook friend called Niklas Frihaven who’s really on fire for Jesus. He has a facebook page called Gang of God where he regularly posts testimonies about healing and salvation from wherever God calls him to be. This is genuine, homemade excitement about the Holy Ghost, and I’d love to share some of what he has posted:
Wonders and Miracles in India
Much happened during our two weeks in India, want to share some testimonies .
An old woman had such pain that her back, she looked like a fishhook , during prayer , she became straighter and straighter , not completely straight but still free from pain and about 10 cm longer , Thank you Jesus!
Another woman had a large painful outgrowth like a tumor on the left hip , after the first pray the pain was gone, after the second prayer while we were talking to her the outgrowth disappeared right before my eyes, Halleluja!!!
I am so thankful to God that I get to experience all this , totally me and Dina got to be there when some 550 people were completely free of pain , disease , disability and psychological distress .
The girl in the picture was a bit special miracle , her mother brought her to the church, she was mute and deaf since birth , we prayed for her , and immediately she began to hear and then she started to say her first words ever , was so beautiful to see her happiness when she said her first word, JESUS!
Reading the Bible with the Poor
My church has a small house group in an area of our town that is experiencing some problems: many are poor, kids hang around in gangs and from time to time there is a riot when the youth destroy people’s cars in protest. We want to reach out to the people in this area and love to invite new people to our group. We especially love to connect with Muslims and share what Jesus has done for us with them.
Two months ago a Romanian family moved nextdoors. I have known this family for years and it ess actually I who helped them get the apartment. They are Roma and has been suffering from discrimination both in Romania and in Sweden. For a long time they were forced to beg on the streets, but the father, Christi, really try to get a job. By the grace of God, he has learned fluent Swedish with hardly any education.
We invited them to our house group. The children have an endless amount of energy, but finally we managed to read the Bible. We read through the Gospel according to Luke, and we had now come to chapter 6. I started to read in Swedish, and Christi continued in Romanian:
Looking at his disciples, Jesus said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets. (Luke 6:20-26)