27 July 2012
Move over Olympians, the Vikings are coming
Hundreds of young Norwegians, complete with Viking longship, have joined Geordie Christians in their Olympic outreach as a thank you to churches in the north east for sending missionaries to Norway around 1,000 years ago.
Three hundred young evangelists from YWAM Norway, alongside 50 young people from 10 other nations, the crew of the Viking ship Gaia and the extreme team TX-Viking – are taking part in missions alongside locals in the Olympic football city of Newcastle and across the north east.
On Sunday afternoon, the Gaia will sail up the Tyne to deliver a letter of thanks from the Bishop of Oslo for the north eastern missionaries who brought the gospel of Jesus to Norway. The Bishop of Newcastle will receive the letter and respond on behalf of the church, at a ceremony attended by local dignitaries and the Norwegian consul.
The YWAM team have joined St Luke's fresh expressions Anglican church in Newcastle to hold a week-long 24/7 Olympic prayer house, modelled on the IHOP Kansas pattern. Rev Dr Robert Ward, vicar of St Luke's, and a member of the Evangelical Alliance council, said: "It's absolutely amazing. You go in and you just feel the sweet presence of God. There's wonderful prayer and worship undergirding the outreach."
He added: "Fifty people made commitments to Jesus last night through the street ministry of the TX-Vikings in Hebburn on Tyne. It's breathtaking stuff."
The TX-Viking team are wowing people with their extreme shows in shopping centres, parks and churches – tearing up phone books, smashing breeze-blocks and blowing up hot water bottles, as powerful modern-day parables of the releasing power of the gospel.
Ellen Weydahl, from YWAM Norway, said she felt very moved when several young people came to faith at one of the TX events in Newcastle."Touched, and excited about what God is doing here in Newcastle," she said. "It is truly a privilege to be a part of it."
The Norwegians were invited by Together in Christ Tyneside, a group of pastors from across Newcastle who have been meeting together for 25 years, and the visit was organised by the regional events charity NE1.
Their Olympic response is part of More Than Gold, which has brought together over 60 denominations and organisations to provide united faith-based outreach, hospitality and service during the Games. The Evangelical Alliance is one of the global sponsors of More than Gold.