Sunday, December 17   Sign in or Register
Evangelical Focus

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud

Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.

'... Christian'
I would define myself as...



Darrell Jackson

Mission after Brexit

If the current situation has encouraged mission agencies in Europe to ask questions again about their core business and the values of service, radical availability, and sacrifice, then God will continue to be glorified, even in the midst of political turmoil and uncertainty.

FEATURES AUTHOR Darrell Jackson 09 SEPTEMBER 2016 08:06 h GMT+1
A view of Paris (France). / Rob Potvin (Unsplash, CC)

Eighty-six years ago, Winston Churchill wrote “We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked but not combined. We are interested and associated but not absorbed.”1 The 2016 referendum on the UK’s continuing membership of the EU was not the first time UK voters had gone to the polls in an EU referendum, but it is certainly the one that history will recall in any post -2016 account of Europe.

In 1993, with the emergence of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), voters had a determinedly Eurosceptical political option. The threat posed by UKIP to the electability of the Conservative party and its former leader and Prime Minister, David Cameron, was serious enough for him to support an EU Referendum Bill, first presented to Parliament in May 2013, and the subsequent European Union Referendum Act 2015 with provision for a non-binding referendum on the 23rd June, 2016.

After the referendum votes had been counted, it became clear that 52% of UK voters wanted the UK to leave the EU with 48% wanting it to remain. The stock markets reacted badly, the British pound collapsed, the political establishment was visibly shaken, businesses began calculating the cost of an independent UK, and the Prime Minister announced his resignation. Cities across Europe, including Paris, began immediately wooing the financial institutions that were deeply embedded in the City of London.

The newly elected Prime Minister, Theresa May, is now managing a post-referendum governmental machinery that is wholly consumed with the question of how and when to invoke Article 50 of the EU Treaty, the mechanism by which a member state leaves the EU. Her EU counterparts, especially the French, German and Italian leaderships, are beginning their own Brexit discussions.


BREXIT: What are the implications?

When the UK invokes Article 50 it will take many years to deal with the political and economic fall-out as it establishes a new relationship with its European neighbours. Politicians concede, or capitalise on, the need to address England’s historic and constitutional relationship with the strongly pro-remain countries of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Ordinary UK and EU citizens who have relocated to another country will face the uncertainty surrounding EU residency, continuation of employment, and the threat to the status of missionaries from the UK working in other EU countries. British nationals who have retired to European countries face an uncertain future. Some of these are serving as pastors in British migrant churches in Europe.

Reports of racially motived hate crimes have risen fivefold since the referendum results were announced. Polish residents have been called ‘Polish vermin’ and ‘Polish scum!’, verbally and as graffiti in the UK neighbourhoods where they live. Muslims, Romanians, and Middle Eastern origin people have all been abused.

It is highly unlikely that the UK will wish to do anything other than negotiate access to the single market of the EU. The EU insists that the UK’s access to the single market will come at the cost of the free movement of people. Ironically, after a Brexit, there will be no legal mechanism by which the UK could return refugees, travelling from the European mainland, to the European country that they had first arrived in upon entering the EU.2

Soul-searching within the EU institutions laments the perceptions of its democratic deficit, its mismanagement of the migration crisis, the threat to the Schengen zone as a result of its failure to increase external border vigilance, and its failure to promote the benefits of the single market (especially the labour, digital, energy, and telecommunications markets).

The EU also has to deal with the consequence of Article 50 being invoked by the UK government. Initial indications from the President of the European Commission pointed to the desire for rapid exit. Since then, leaders from various member states have urged that pressure be taken off the UK government and that, in the interim, the EU should make every effort to help the UK understand what would be lost by its departure. Ironically, the presence of Article 50 in the EU Treaty weakens the case advanced by critics that the EU is an irreversibly federalist project. Whatever conclusion one draws about the inclusion of Article 50, it has been made clear by the EU leaders that no negotiation concerning terms of withdrawal will be entered into until Article 50 is invoked. When, where, and by whom this is invoked remains to be seen.3


EUROPE: The implications for mission within and beyond the EU

I arrived in Hungary to begin a new mission posting in January 2004, several months before Hungary joined the EU. Serving as missionaries after Hungary joined the EU was immeasurably simpler. Four years later I joined the faculty of a mission-training College in the UK where I was assisted by a Lithuanian intern and taught many EU students. Over the next five years the immigration screw was gradually tightened on non-EU students and the College was forced to re-focus its programmes. In the event of the UK leaving the EU, UK Bible and theological Colleges will face the increasing challenge of recruiting non-UK students from the EU.

I am a Board member of a European mission agency deploying UK and other EU citizens across Europe. We don’t work only in EU countries, but our operations are simplified significantly by our freedom to live and work freely across the EU. The likelihood is that a significant part of the UK conservative evangelical community voted to leave the EU. Their right to do so is not in question, but I wonder whether they have made the connection between their vote and the economic consequence of having to support missionaries across Europe.

Currency fluctuations are not new to overseas mission agencies but an economic downturn that is the direct consequence of a decision for which many evangelicals probably voted, surely requires those sharing responsibility for it to dig deeply into their pockets to ensure the continued presence of UK missionaries in Europe. Of course, some European missionaries who voted to remain have suggested that we need to have an ongoing confidence in God’s faithfulness, in our identity in Christ, and in confessing our primary loyalty to Christ, “for He was, is, and always will be the only hope for Europe; that did not change yesterday.” Less prosaically, another mission leader based on the continent simply wrote on his Facebook page “silly, silly, silly, silly, silly, silly Britain!”

Much as the churches spanned the political divide during the Cold War in Europe, it may prove to be the case that European churches manage to rise above mere nationalist agendas and share their witness to a missionary God whose heart of love extends to people of every nation. Playing their part in the move of God’s Spirit across the European continent, mission agencies will continue to engage the Good News of Jesus despite any increase in the levels of complexity involved in funding, placing, and supporting missionaries working within the context of any new political realities of Europe.

Missionaries and mission leaders across Europe have encouraged European Christians not to lose hope. They have urged those who support, those who pray, and those who are sent, to remain confident in their identity in Christ, to condemn of all forms of xenophobia, to continue supporting vulnerable refugees, and to work for societies that are genuinely open and welcoming.

If the current situation has encouraged mission agencies in Europe to ask questions again about their core business and the values of service, radical availability, and sacrifice that shape this, then God will continue to be glorified, even in the midst of political turmoil and uncertainty. Pray for the light of Christ to continue shining in Europe!

Darrell Jackson. Senior Lecturer in Missiology, Morling College, Sydney Board Member of European Christian Mission International

This article first appeared in the September 2016 edition of Vista magazine.

This is a condensed and revised version of an article published in the September 2016 edition of the Lausanne Global Analysis.



1. Winston Churchill, "The United States of Europe," in The Saturday Evening Post and John Bull, 15th February 1930.

2. EU legislation currently allows for a refugee who has been detained in the UK, and who can be shown to have travelled to the UK from another EU country, to be returned to the EU country that they first entered when they arrived in the EU.

3. The origins of Article 50 were sown in the 2004 draft versions of the EU Constitution (rejected by two referenda in the Netherlands and France in 2005). The insertion of Article 50 envisages a Europe of a rather different nature to that of the indissoluble nature of the federation of the USA (established by decision of the US Supreme Court in 1869).




    If you want to comment, or


YOUR ARE AT: - - - Mission after Brexit
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation

Pastor Gary Wilkerson talks about what all evangelical Christians can learn from the Protestant Reformation and underlines the need for more churches with both a sound doctrine and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe

Is the arrival of thousands of Muslims to Europe a threat to Christianity? What is the growth of evangelical churches in Eastern and Southern Europe? An interview with theologian and Lausanne Movement representative Lindsay Brown.

Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch

Author and international speaker Dr Pablo Martínez discusses the main challenges in Europe nowadays and hopes Evangelical Focus will be a useful tool to help build bridges between churches and society.

Lausanne younger leaders gathering in Budapest Lausanne younger leaders gathering in Budapest

About 70 people from European countries met at the Younger Leaders Gen gathering in Hungary (19-22 October) to discuss the challenges of the church in the continent and build partnerships. Photos: Evi Rodemann and Jari Sippola.

I am not on sale I am not on sale

Young Christians gathered at Madrid’s central square Sol to denounce human trafficking. A flashmob highlighted the work of three evangelical NGOs which support women who escape sexual slavery in Spain.

Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country ‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country

Bilbao hosted the Spanish Evangelical Alliance's annual meeting (assembly). Politicians, professors and evangelical representatives shared views on social reconciliation. The theme was also analysed from a theological perspective and in workshops. 

The Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible The Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi spoke about how the biblical worldview shaped the West. 300 professionals attended annual GBG meeting on faith and work in Cullera (Spain). Photos: J.P. Serrano, S. Vera.

Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016 Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016

Around 1,000 young Christian leaders from 150 countries are participating in the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering, to reflect on global mission.

How does an effective leader decide when to say “no” to something? How does an effective leader decide when to say “no” to something?

Ramez Attallah of the Bible Society Egypt answers the question. 

Creation Care and the Gospel, in France Creation Care and the Gospel, in France

The conference drew about 90 delegates from across Europe. Scientists, theologians, activists reflected together on the theme “God’s Word and God’s World”.

“It is inconsistent to say we love the Creator while we destroy His creation” “It is inconsistent to say we love the Creator while we destroy His creation”

In creation care, “we need more people who lead by example”, says well-known Brazilian politician and activist Marina Silva. 

Human traffickers recruit girls and boys online Human traffickers recruit girls and boys online

The new video of the European Freedom Network addresses the dangers of social media. 

Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube

EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.