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.
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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.
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The Atlantic: Faroe Islands in Pictures
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.