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Icelanders Sensing Revival in Reykjavik

It normally takes a lot to move Skúli Barker to tears. But what he witnessed simply doesn’t happen in Iceland. “My wife was sobbing next to me,” Skúli says. “And I started to cry. It’s just amazing.”

It started off as a few souls responding at the end of Franklin Graham’s gospel message during the Festival of Hope (September 28–29, 2013). Before Skúli knew it, throngs were flooding the stage, elbow-to-elbow, hundreds of people packed in, aisles backed up. People wanting to meet Jesus. And willing to say that out loud. Pray that out loud.

Skúli doesn’t want to be overly dramatic, but he’s a native Icelander in his 40s, and he’s seen the state of Icelandic people when it comes to talking about God or anything spiritual.

“There’s a joke here that we are the ‘Frozen Chosen,’” Skúli says. “But it’s really true. In Iceland, people don’t show their feelings. So for Icelanders to come forward to receive Jesus. . . .” With these words Skúli’s voice trails off. His eyes are red. “It’s just been a real fight here for Christians,” he says. “And this gives us hope.”

In one sentence, Skúli summed up five years’ worth of prayers from a core group of pastors and business leaders. He managed to put into words what this meant to the Iceland Festival of Hope executive committee members who put in nine months of hard work.

“It was like a child has been born, in many ways,” says Ragnar Gunnarsson, Festival of Hope director. “A tremendous experience. This is what we have been praying for.”

Nobody wanted to say it beforehand, but Sigurros, an usher at the Festival of Hope, finally puts into words what everyone has been thinking. “I’m hoping,” she says, “this will be the first step for revival.”

Sigurros, a believer for two decades, works for the government’s environmental department. She signed up to be a Festival usher, but on Sunday night, after a counselor shortage on Saturday night, she was called into emergency duty at Laugardalshöll Arena for the Festival.

On Sunday, Sigurros counseled Soffia, a mother in her 50s, and her teenage daughter Sara. Both attended church “once in a while,” quite common in Iceland. “They had both been exposed to the gospel, but they needed a push to make the decision,” Sigurros says.

“Both [Soffia and Sara] said they wanted to receive Christ into their hearts,” says Sigurros, overwhelmed at how God used her. “It was just tears of joy; I was so happy.”

Revival Signs for a Nation? Is this the start of revival? Perhaps Michael W. Smith said it most succinctly on Saturday night, just before his final song (referring to God): “He’ll change a nation.”

The signs are already encouraging. Prayer for revival has multiplied in the Iceland evangelical churches. Many of the 41 involved churches at the Festival are now closely working together—with pastors praying together weekly.

“It means a lot for Iceland,” says Festival of Hope committee chairman Ómar Kristjánsson. “This will be a new beginning. Something very big.”

Kristjánsson—a businessman who five years ago simply followed a call from God to gather pastors and leaders and start praying for Iceland—sums up the weekend in one word: “Magnificent.” 

Reported by Trevor Freeze. Reprinted and adapted with permission from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

From Prayer Connect magazine.


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