Europe consists of 45 countries and holds within its borders a vast array of cultural and linguistic variance. It is estimated that there are about 160 culturally distinct groups in Europe. To date, about 72.2% of Europeans are Christian, 6.8% adhere to Islam and 20% are unaffiliated with any religious group. The remaining 1.0% belong to other religions. According to more recent studies, secularization is on the rise in Europe, especially among younger generations.
Challenges that women in particular face in Europe today include violence and sexual harassment, human trafficking and the ongoing ostracism of some ethnic groups, such as the Roma. The situation of domestic violence was worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, during which reports of abuse by intimate partners rose around 60%, with one women’s help organization in France reporting a 73% increase in calls.
Our TWR Women of Hope ministry in Europe speaks the message of hope in Jesus in 20 languages and dialects and engages women in ministry through media, small-group interaction and leadership training. Due to the vast cultural and linguistic variance among European countries, the ministry can take different shapes depending on the needs of local audiences and the skills of a given team. Groups in some countries focus on nurturing prayer groups and financially supporting international TWR Women of Hope projects, while other teams emphasize closely engaging with audiences and serving these listeners with excellent programs and other media content.
A variety of media tools are used to serve our audiences: broadcasting, web radio, podcasts, social media and various digital messaging apps. Zoom and Facebook Live, for example, have also been utilized to enable prayer meetings to be held despite pandemic-related restrictions. Some of the teams also provide practical help when they can – ministering to women in prisons, for example. This often entails training staff or inmates on topics such as domestic violence, relationship management or teamwork in a prison environment.
With the decline of religious interest among younger Europeans, reaching women ages 18-35 is an important goal for many of the teams. In this age group, women make important decisions about their careers and families but may not have a biblical outlook when doing so. We want to come alongside younger women not only with programs and content but also by raising up the next generation of Christian leaders through mentoring and leadership training. We are ministering in our different countries to make sure not only that Europe is “Christian on paper” but also that more and more women on this continent would accept Christ into their hearts..