So here is an interesting story from a prayer meeting I went to recently. First, it requires a bit of history. The Austrian free church started here in Vienna in the late 70s and early 80s. It started as a student movement. Most of them were "high school" and college age students. It came mostly out of a prayer and youth group. I need to learn more about this story...but I recently learned about one interesting piece of the free church history: one of its key locations.
I attended a prayer meeting last week. I arrived a bit late, because putting kids to bed is never as straight forward as one would hope. I sat down at the closest open corner, apologized for the interruption, and took part in the prayer meeting. At the close of the meeting, we were encouraged to break into smaller groups and pray for each other. I prayed with the older guy sitting next to me. He is probably old enough to be my father. We are still new to our "gap" church (more on that later) so we end up answering similar questions over and over agai. We've gotten good at telling the short version of how God led us to Austria in both languages. I talked about the vision to plant a church close to where we live along the U1 subway line. I mentioned that the two closest districts of Vienna have the same population as the next largest city in Austria.
As I talked about where we felt God was leading, he got excited. One thing he mentioned to me stood out. He said that he was apart of that youth movement in the 70s and 80s, the one that had started so much of the gospel witness in Vienna. He mentioned that the youth group where much of this started began right where we are feeling led to start a new church. Some 30 years ago, God was working in our area in a movement of prayer. As the group grew and morphed, some of the members went into the city to be a part of the "Tulpengasse" Church (this is a street name, because most churches are named after their address). Others went to go plant the Floridsdorf church, which is where we have been attending since moving to the northern part of the city. Both churches are mother churches that have sent out vhurch plants over the years and contributed in huge ways to the growth of the church and the spread of the gospel in the city. As he told me all this, he made a comment that stuck with me. After awhile, all the people from the original youth group moved on to other churches and a church was never planted in our target area, where the movement originally started. At the time, he was excited to see how God was working, but now he wishes that a church had continued there.
We are praying for exactly the same thing. We know that the gospel is life-changing news, that when we encounter the living God, it can change hearts and lives. It transforms relationships. We also know the importance of prayer. We want to see God move in our town, just like He did 30 years ago. We want to see God do the same thing in the same area again. Continue to pray that God will bring the growth as we seek to faithfully serve Him.