The Lord's Work 'in Norway

Tom Bunting
Bergen, Norway

The Lord's work here is definitely in its infancy, and there is much more work that must be done. There have been three congregations in the country but it is my understanding that now only two of these are meeting for services. It is certainly not any kind of official count, but I would estimate that there are less than 20 known Christians here in Norway (not counting the American preachers and their families). The total population of Norway is around 4,000,000 people. Much of the country is nearly uninhabitable and therefore the majority of the people live along the coast. The larger cities can be reached by car, plane and train, but there are small communities that can only be reached by boat (often only fishing boats).

Since a restoration of the pure gospel of Christ is relatively new to the Norwegians, they are at first receptive to the idea. However, when they begin to realize that such a restoration also requires us to stand in opposition to other religious organizations which have long ago left the "old paths," there is then a feeling of prejudice. It seems to he a case where people like to HEAR the word, as long as they don't have to DO it! They like to hear the plea "Back to the Bible," but few really want to go back to the- Bible. They would be Christians in word but not in practice.

We also find another problem here. People with whom we have discussed the' Bible that oppose the state church (Lutheran), if you ask them upon what basis they reject the state-church, they usually answer that the state church practices things that are not in the Bible. However, if you say anything about the various denominations (other than the state church) being wrong because they do not follow the Bible, these same people are offended. The age old expression comes up even here in Norway, "You think that you are the only ones saved." They reject one church because it does things which are not founded on the Bible, while accepting another church which also practices things which are not founded on the Bible.

But this is surely not too difficult to many of my brethren, for we have found even among our own number that stand opposed to the denominations because of the practices which are not from the Bible, while they themselves practice things not to be found in the word of God. They will tell us that the Baptist Seminary is wrong, but a Church of Christ College is right. (I have reference here to a college that is supported or sponsored by churches). They tell us that a Methodist Hospital is wrong, but a Church of Christ Hospital is right. They tell us that the Catholic system of organization is wrong, but approve of the sponsoring church or centralized control of churches of Christ. The problem here is about the same that it is in America. It is a problem of consistency. It is a problem of submission. It is a problem of man's will versus God's will. For the majority it seems that for the present time they follow the way of inconsistency, and mans will rules in life over God's will. Once settled on these points, they settle back in the chair of indifference (apathy) and lull their way through life. In bold print across the door of their hearts is written "DO NOT DISTURB."

Perhaps we are not disturbing, very many people here in Norway, but we hope and pray that we can awaken at least a few. We hope that we can get some of them out of their chair of apathy, and cause them to reconsider their inconsistent notion of "believing the Bible but not doing what it says." For when men become not only hearers of the word but also doers, they will find that their will has submitted to God's will.

The terms "liberal" and "conservative" would not be understood by the Norwegian members. Many of them consider it only an "American problem." They are too small to be bothered by those desiring contributions to their various organizations in America. So when we use these terms we have to primarily apply them to the American preachers who are supported here by various congregations. There are only two gospel preachers in Norway presently supported by the conservative congregations, Tommy Thornhill and myself. We are' both working here in Bergen. Did you know and realize that there are congregations in the U. S. A. which has more preachers than the entire nation of Norway?

We have had relative success with the Bible correspondence course and with the use of large teaching ads in the various newspapers across the land. Now that brother Thornhill and I have better use of the Norwegian language, we plan to have more gospel meetings! We hope to have some in the larger cities where we have several people taking the Bible course, also more in the small communities surrounding Bergen. It is so seldom that the lost come to hear the gospel; we must make greater efforts to take it to them!!

The need is very simple, more workers needed!! First, those who already know the Norwegian language would be a great blessing. These could begin teaching immediately upon arrival. Perhaps there are former workers that can return to Norway. Perhaps there are Norwegians who have been converted since going to America and now are willing to come back to teach the pure gospel of Christ. Second, gospel preachers willing to learn the language and preach the gospel to the four million souls here are needed. Third, students interested in studies of the Scandinavian countries or other special fields of study could be helpful. While continuing their education they would be a help to the Lord's work here. The university here in Bergen is free to all students!! Perhaps there are self-sufficient persons who can go where they like without the worries of providing for life. These Christians could spend some time helping in the work here as well as many other places of the world. The need is for workers willing to come and work!!

February 1969