Doubt and Amazement: ProChrist2006 in Europe

Millions were impacted throughout Europe during
ProChrist 2006.

On 26 March 2006, the European-wide evangelistic campaign ProChrist concluded after eight days. From 19-26 March 2006 approximately 1.5 million visitors at the central site in Munich, Germany and at local sites in many European countries were reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ, broadcast via satellite. The central event was held in the Olympia Hall in Munich and transmitted to over 1,250 sites in more than twenty European countries, with translation into eighteen languages. More than ten thousand persons also watched the event online, via livestream broadcasting over the Internet.

Reverend Ulrich Parzany, evangelist and main speaker at the ProChrist event, said he was pleased with the results. Throughout the eight evenings, it appeared that many were reached who had never had a chance to hear about Jesus Christ. More than forty-two thousand people followed the invitation to the “meeting point at the cross,” which Parzany included every evening at the end of his message. The theme of ProChrist2006 was “Doubt and Amazement.” The first ProChrist event was held in 1993 in Essen, Germany with Dr. Billy Graham as the main speaker. ProChrist2006 is the fifth event.

ProChrist Takes a Stand for Christian Convert in Afghanistan
During the ProChrist event, Parzany referred to the recent political situation in Afghanistan. He called for Christians to take a stand for Abdul Rahman, imprisoned for his conversion to Christianity. Parzany stated that “the opportunity to change your religion indicates the legitimacy of religious freedom.” He was referring to the 40-year-old Rahman, who was threatened with the death sentence for converting to Christianity. Many of the participating ProChrist sites in Germany became active on his behalf and contacted their parliamentarian. By God’s grace, Rahman was released by Afghan authorities and later was given asylum by Italy. Parzany also issued a call for Christians in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzogovina to take the lead with their example of reconciliation. 

The Message: Changing Your Life
Every ProChrist evening included an entertaining and diverse programme with music, drama, interviews and an evangelistic message preached by Parzany. Football player Zé Roberto, member of the Brazilian national team and under contract to Bayern Munich, was an interview guest one evening and spoke of his faith in Christ. “Although everything comes to an end, my faith is in an eternal God,” he said.

The theme song for ProChrist2006, “Da kann man nur staunen” (“You can only be amazed”) opened the satellite broadcast every evening. One verse of the song sings, “You are not alone; God wants to be with his people.”

A Life-changing Week
ProChrist offers a special follow-up course called “Living with Jesus Christ.” Seventy churches were part of the local coalition for the central event in Munich. At all the sites the emphasis was on inviting both those interested in faith in general and those making a decision for Christ to a follow-up course where they would explore the basics of faith.

Pastor Siegfried Winkler, chairman of the Munich ProChrist coalition, emphasized, “The vision of ProChrist is to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ, to give people an opportunity to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But that’s not all. Churches in Munich offer different possibilities in terms of follow-up after ProChrist to help people gain understanding about the Bible. ProChrist2006 is more than just an event, it’s an invitation for anyone who has made a decision for Christ. We want to come alongside them and offer help for their first steps in faith, and help them to become part of the Christian community.”

Special Programme for Children
Before the official ProChrist evening programmes started, there was a special “ProChrist for Kids” evangelistic broadcast, targeting children and their families.

ProChrist for Kids shared the message of Jesus Christ 
with youngsters.

In the special pre-programme in Munich, over four hundred children between the ages of six and ten performed “Nebuchadnezzar,” a special children’s musical, on stage at the Olympia Hall. Then came the satellite broadcast programme under the theme “Da staunst du“ (“You’ll be amazed“). The young audience clapped, sang along and enthusiastically enjoyed the programme. After much laughter, it became quiet in the auditorium and the “absent-minded” Professor Dr. Theo Logie and his fantastic computer told the Bible story about Bartimaeus. Together with a crew of six eager children, the professor learned that miracles still happen.

At the end of the programme, one girl noted, “I am amazed at how my body is put together.” Another boy added, “And miracles still happen!”

Two Million Kilometres for Faith
A special initiative for ProChrist2006 was ProChristmobil, with the “smallest church in the world.” Since May 2005 a fleet of seventy two-seater “smart cars” was on a ten-month tour involving cooperation in evangelistic outreach with the local churches in each city or town visited. Nearly 3,300 drivers volunteered for a week, a month or the entire tour. Over two million kilometres were driven, covering the length and breadth of Germany and Austria, as well as several shorter outreaches in Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. During that time, the drivers held an estimated sixty thousand conversations about faith.

Never before in the history of the Church in Germany has something like this happened. On 18 May 2005 the initiative was launched in Berlin. Together with the ProChrist board and leaders, Dr. Wolfgang Huber (chairman of the German Lutheran Council) sent the seventy orange-black coloured “smart cars” on their way to reach the world for Christ. The mobile church visited Wildschoenau (Austria), one thousand meters above sea level, as well as the mines of Auguste Victoria, one thousand meters below sea level.

Showing Flexibility and Reaching Out
ProChristmobil had an important function in preparation for the ProChrist2006 event. According to Parzany, “Many people have never experienced church like this. Dialogue on the street, in marketplaces and shopping centres has been welcomed. A lot of people have questions about God and the Church, but have never had a chance to discuss their questions. The ‘smallest church in the world’ has offered space to discuss, laugh, pray and even make a confession of faith. People have reacted very positively to the initiative.”

Hundreds of Christians were members of
the “smallest church in the world.”

The commitment of the many volunteer drivers and helpers throughout the tour were remarked upon very positively by Dr. Raimund Utsch, chairman of the ProChrist board. According to Utsch, “Finding more than 2,200 volunteers locally in the different regions visited by the tour has not always been easy, but the commitment of various churches has shown that such a project is possible.” The initiative as a whole left a positive impression in many places and shows that faith in God is still possible in our present times.

The “smallest church in the world” helped to make the Christian faith a topic in the public square. In every region, town and city visited, people looked, came and found what they had been missing when it came to religion. They found an open ear and a possibility for conversation, for prayer and for encouragement.

Last Stop: Munich
The last stop for the “smallest church in the world” was Munich, to be part of the largest Christian gathering in Europe. The ProChristmobil project ends after the ProChrist2006 event. The smart cars, which had been leased for the duration of the tour, will be returned. Some local churches and individuals, however, have declared their intention to buy one of the “mobile churches.”

Jan-Peter Graap is responsible for public relations with ProChrist Germany. He is also a pastor and evangelist in the German Federation of Free Evangelical churches.