Jag blev ombedd att skriva en kort årskrönika till SOS Church och Mission SOS, inför årets sista söndag. Igår åkte jag iväg för att sitta på ett café och skriva i lugn och ro – få bättre ställen att författa på finns – men caféets öppettider satte stopp för min plan. Till slut landade jag på McDonald’s i Arlandastad. Där, intryckt i ett hörn, satt jag och frös tillsammans med en kopp kaffe och mitt tangentbord, och skrev den text som jag nu bjuder på här. Mycket nöje!
I used to think it was impossible to summarize a whole year in a short text. So much has happened. So many geographical, economical and personal tragedies lie behind us, and so many miracles have taken place. Well, let me give it a try.
First thing first: 2012 has been a great year. People have been saved. People who entered 2012 with blind eyes will enter the next year in full sight. People who limped in January are running in December. People have been baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit. It has been an awesome year.
In June, a huge team from Sweden, Norway and the US we went to Tanzania to preach the Gospel. Dar es Salaam Signs & Wonders Festival was one of the greatest festivals in the history of Mission SOS. More than 1000 churches collaborated with only one goal in sight: to show Jesus to the people of Tanzania. More than 1000 people got saved during our outreaches, man to man, on the streets of Dar, and by the end of the week, over 25000 people had responded to the altar calls, asking Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.
A few weeks later, the Olympic Games played out in London. I think no one would disagree if I said that the summer Olympics is without doubt the largest event in the world. It is huge. The opening ceremony, which took place in the Olympic Stadium just outside London, gathered 60 000 people. I kind of like that number. 60 000 people, at the greatest event in the world.
I like that number, because on the final night of Dar es Salaam Signs and Wonders Festival we gathered 65 000 people. The Olympics might be more extravagant, it might have more smoke bombs and special effects, but when 65 000 people gathered on a large field in Africa, blind eyes and deaf ears were opened. Lives were restored. Thousands of people met Jesus for the very first time.
What else happened during 2012? Well, Håkan Juholt was replaced by Löfven, after just a few months as leader of Sweden’s biggest political party. Can’t blame a man for trying, he thought. The Arabic Spring skipped summer and jumped straight to its fall, some would say, and video footage of iron pipes shook the political party Sverigedemokraterna to its core. Also, Barack Obama was re-elected President of the United States, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic humiliated England and their keeper Joe Hart by scoring four goals of which one will go to history.
A few things happened to our conceptions of certain words as well. The word Greece no longer makes us think about vacation and summer heat, but of bankruptcy and financial insecurity. Also, in the spring of 2012 every Swede became well aware of the English word “Euphoria”. The word “Mafia” went from being negative and scary to something that would cause complete hysteria in the new Friends Arena in Solna. Apparently, the Sicilian Mafia – bad. The Swedish House Mafia – good.
But, let’s cut to the real news from 2012. In March we planted our very first daughter church down in Switzerland: SOS Church Bienne. In Stockholm, we went from one to two services each Sunday, at noon and at 4 PM. We sent a team down to Beirut, Lebanon, to scout and pray for a week, taking this first step toward a new missions base in the Middle East. In January 2012, our Pastors Johannes and Walter preached at a festival in the Dominican Republic, leading 1500 people to salvation. All our baseleaders – in Bulgaria, Ethiopia, India and Thailand – came to visit us here in Stockholm, some of them for the very first time. A big water leak in our basement at Kungsholmen forced us to find bigger, better and more central facilities, making our church even more accessible for people who don’t usually go to church.
But, we all know this to be true: If people are not being saved all these successful events are in vain. People are our only currency. Every single person has his unique story. So rather than rambling on about all events, about Super Sundays, All Nations Cafes or Christmas Shows I would want to tell the story of each person who got saved and healed during 2012. They are the real stories. They are the only reason we can honestly say that 2012 has been a great year. Friends, we have more than 25 000 reasons. It has, indeed, been a great, great year.
I used to think that it was impossible to summarize a whole year in a short text. I still do. But Håkan Juholt was right about this – you can’t blame a man for trying.
In two days the new year begins and we will all start writing the text of 2013. Let us write it with our most passionate pen.