Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly [is] great, but the laborers [are] few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest - Luke 10:2.

AUSTRIA

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By Theresa Hinteregger


Theresa is from Austria. She is a youth leader and very involved in her congregation and outreach in her village. She spent one year in Israel and has returned home to her nation to evangelize the youth and lost of her country. Theresa speaks several languages and is well versed in the word of God. Although she is quite young, she is full of zest and zeal that is lacking in the nominal believer today, young and old alike. She is an excellent violinist and knows how to worship with this gift.

 

 

 

Contact Theresa at:

thesasnuek@gmx.at


About Austria

I grew up in Austria, a small country located in central Europe, which borders on Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. It is part of the European Union (EU) and has scarcely more than 8 million inhabitants, of whom 8.9 % are foreigners1. The national currency is the Euro.

Austria is traditionally a Christian country and is predominately Catholic:

Catholic: 73.7 %

Orthodox Catholic: 2.2 %

Protestant: 4.7 %

Other Christian groups (including e.g. Jehovah�s Witnesses and free congregations): 0.9 %

other non-Christian groups (including Buddhists): 0.3 %

Islam: 4.2 %

Undenominational: 14 %1

There are believers inside the Catholic and Protestant church, but even together with believers in free congregations we are small in number.

Traditionally, the Catholic Church has a lot of influence. Until 1781 people were not allowed to have any other religion or practice protestant rituals. For many centuries it was very important to show loyalty towards the Catholic Church. However, when it was officially announced that other churches would be tolerated as well, in some areas several thousand people registered as Protestants. This shows that there had been an underground Protestant Church which leads to assume that many of the members were believers, because they had taken the risk of belonging to an �illegal church�.

Nowadays many people have a religion on their official documents, but if you ask them about their convictions, most people are not sure what they believe in or else they think that there are many ways which all lead to the same God if he exists. Some would say that they believe in God or some supernatural power and pray sometimes.

What many people don�t know today is that Austria had a large percentage of Protestants in the 16th century, shortly after Martin Luther started a revolution with his 90 theses. Although being Protestant does not mean to be a believer, we can assume that many of the Austrian Protestants in the 16th century were believers because being Protestant often meant persecution. The following Catholic counter reformation was supported by the Austrian Kaiser and nobility and so people had to choose between becoming Catholic or leaving the country. To conclude, this means that Austria threw out most of the believers it ever had.2

This seems to be quite a sad heritage, but God has not finished yet. Some 50 or 60 years ago, the so called free churches began to develop. They consisted of people who were mostly Catholic and came to understand that God has to judge sin, but shows mercy towards the sinner if he repents, and that forgiveness is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. They wanted to continue with this new life and live according to the principles of the Bible only, but quickly found that they got stuck in the system of the Catholic Church. Therefore, some of them decided to leave the church and meet in small groups out of which small congregations developed. Some stayed in the Catholic Church but attend meetings of like-minded people.

A few missionaries were also sent from other countries, but up until today there are few mission works or Bible colleges in Austria.

Twenty years ago there were only a few small congregations and the prayer of believers was that God would increase the number of congregations and people who believed in Jesus Christ. Today, with the second- or even third generation of believers, congregations are growing in number and members.

There is a generation of young people who grew up in the congregation and were educated in faith, but now have to decide on their own if they are willing to live their life to the glory of God and surrender all to Him or not. Sometimes it is a real struggle to stay focused on what it is all about: knowing on which side we stand and making it clear with everything that we do that we are not from the world, but servants of the living God.

Today our challenge in a changing society is to be set apart for God and continue with the pioneer work that our parents started.

The cry of my heart is that many will realize God�s fire and passion for them and for a lost world and that people will understand that we are living in the most crucial time ever and that we are to stand up for our God, because of His love for us!

1 (source: Statistik Austria)

2 (source: http://www.wabweb.net/history/frames/protooefr.htm from April 1, 2009)

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This page was last updated 10/19/15