Tuesday, January 23   Sign in or Register
Evangelical Focus

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud

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

Evangelical Focus is three years old
When was the first time you visited Evangelical Focus?



Jeff Fountain

Continental tales

A journey back into the past has encouraged us to believe that God is not yet finished with Europe.

WINDOW ON EUROPE AUTHOR Jeff Fountain 27 JULY 2017 10:29 h GMT+1
Some of the stops of the Continental Heritage Tour. / Schuman Centre

Like Chaucer’s characters from Canterbury Tales, they came from many different backgrounds. They included a doctor, a retired air traffic controller, a Presbyterian minister and a surveyor; plus teachers, grandmothers, newly-weds and missionaries. They hailed from Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania.

While the pilgrimage to the tomb of the murdered St Thomas a Becket in Canterbury took up to five days of walking to cover the one hundred kilometres from London, this ‘pilgrimage’ through forty locations in five nations stretched to five thousand kilometres and two full weeks in a small convoy of vehicles.

As in the fourteenth century English classic, our journey of the past two weeks bonded new friendships over story-telling and dining – yet without Chaucer’s ribaldry. While pilgrims of old would set out to earn favour with God and atone for sins, our band of pilgrims on the Continental Heritage Tour set out to follow the trail of faithful minorities through two millennia to learn how the story of Jesus had shaped European life and society–and still can.

Our last supper together on Saturday evening was celebrated in the upper room of a restaurant a stone’s throw from the imposing gothic facade of Strasbourg Cathedral, before we emerged to join the crowds waiting in the balmy evening air for the engrossing son et lumière spectacle projected on the thousand-year-old edifice.



Over the Alsatian specialty of Tarte flambée, we shared our experiences and impressions of our journey together, full of discoveries and surprises. Some confessed they had had only a vague awareness of key Reformation figures like Luther, Zwingli and Calvin, let alone how God had been at work in Europe throughout the so-called Dark Ages.

Others shared their amazement about the widespread influence of apostolic pioneers over huge areas of territory. Boniface, for example, founded and led monasteries and bishoprics in Erfurt, Regensburg and Fulda, and was still going strong at 80 when he met his violent death in Friesland.

The interwovenness of the story of Europe impressed yet others. Jan Hus in Prague was inspired by John Wycliffe in Oxford, and in turn influenced Jan Amos Comenius, Count Zinzendorf and John Wesley, each of whom would produce literally millions of spiritual offspring. The reality of the persecution and the determination of the faith of Hus’ followers came home to us as we had clambered through a rocky natural labyrinth in the mountains of northern Czech Republic where they would meet for secret worship.

That same Saturday morning we had walked the streets of Geneva, a city reputed to be the smelliest in Europe until John Calvin brought transformation to church life, family life, business practices, education, health care and city government through his practical application of God’s Word to daily life. We had traced the city’s present internationalist character to this reformer’s work.

Still fresh in our minds was our trip the day before to the village of St Maurice, south of Montreux at the eastern end of Lake Geneva, named after a third century Roman army commander of the Theban Legion from upper Egypt. He and his men had been summoned by Caesar Maximian to quell a rebellion of Christian Helvetians in today’s Switzerland who refused to worship Roman gods and Caesar as a god. Maurice and his legion told Maximian that while they wanted to be obedient and brave soldiers for Caesar, their ultimate allegiance was also to God. Legend tells us that the whole legion of 6600 men allowed themselves to be executed rather than betray their Christ.



Largely forgotten today, this story was widely told across Europe expressed in stained glass and statues, reminding Europeans that the Christian faith owed much to the vitality of the church in Egypt where monasticism began in the early centuries. We had encountered many visible reminders of the closely-knit network of monasteries which had been the building blocks of European society after the collapse of the Roman Empire–from Utrecht and Amsterdam at the outset of the tour, to St Gallen, Zurich and St Maurice towards the end. These communities had been Europe’s centres of worship, learning, culture, agriculture and trade.

Sometimes overnighting in YWAM centres, and in an ecumenical community in Fulda, we could recognise the same spirit and forms of movements from the past through which God had brought renewal and reformation to Europe.

We recalled the observation of G. K. Chesterton a century ago that over the previous 1900 years there had been at least five times when it seemed as if the church was ‘going to the dogs’; yet each time, it had been the ‘dog’ that had died. Since that observation, two more ‘dogs’ had died: fascism and communism. Another ‘dog’ also doomed to pass was secularism.

Our journey back into the past had encouraged us to believe that God is not yet finished with Europe.

Jeff Fountain is Director of the Schuman Centre for European Studies, and speaks on issues facing Christians today in Europe. He writes at Weekly Word.




    If you want to comment, or


rajeev sharma
11:19 h
this post is amazing...i enjoyed reading it thanks for sharing.

YOUR ARE AT: - - - Continental tales
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. 

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".

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.

'Ungi kulimi changana' 'Ungi kulimi changana'

Educator and journalist Jordi Torrents shares images of the Sekeleka social centre in Mozambique. About 50 children live there, many with some kind of disability. All photos were taken with permission.

The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve

For the first time, the President of Portugal attended a worship service in an evangelical church. It was in Sintra, on Christmas Eve.

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.

Heart Heart

A short animation film by Swiss cartoonist Alain Auderset tells the message of the Bible in four minutes.

He is... He is...

A video about Colossians 1:15-20.

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. 

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.