The Norwegian Miracle

Until a few months ago, Kjell Bondevick was a Lutheran pastor who spent his spare time playing soccer with friends. But on October 21 the husband and father of three stepped onto the world stage: He became the prime minister of Norway. It's an incredible story of how a born-again Christian became the leader of one of the most secular nations in the world. I visited Norway a few years ago, and I've rarely seen a place so spiritually barren. When I spoke about sin nobody knew what I was talking about. Most Norwegians don't have a clue about central Christian doctrines. But last week at the National Prayer Breakfast, I met Lars Rise, a Norwegian Member of Parliament who told me the remarkable story of Bondevick's election and what God is doing in his country. Bondevick is a member of the Christian Democratic Party, which was founded in 1933 and has always been a tiny minority. Early in the campaign, polls showed that just 7.5 percent of the electorate supported Bondevick's candidacy. As Rise recalls, "When we presented [Bondevick] as a candidate, many were laughing, and the newspapers gave him no chance." Undeterred, Bondevick began traveling the country, talking about the need to bring Norway back to its Christian roots. "He spoke about moral values," Rise said, "about such things as honesty, and about how each individual and each family should take responsibility for doing the right thing in society." Bondevick's campaign posters said: "Pray for our nation. Pray for our election." Thousands of Norwegian Christians fasted and took part in 24-hour prayer vigils, asking God to intervene on behalf of their country. On September 15, election day, Bondevick become prime minister. And more than half of the new government's 19 ministers are professing Christians. In his inaugural address, Bondevick declared that "God is my strength," and he urged his countrymen to stanch the "erosion of morals and foundational values." To accomplish this, he set up a values commission to deal with problems such as violence, sexual abuse, greed, tax evasion, and the breakdown of family life. And how are the Norwegian people reacting to all of this very public expression of Christianity? They're loving it. Just a few days ago, a national poll revealed that Bondevick's approval rating had shot up to an incredible 92 percent—the highest rating for any prime minister in Norwegian history. Rise believes Norwegians "were very much ready for this change" because they've seen the consequences of decades of secularism: high rates of drug and alcohol abuse, abortion, suicide, and family breakdown. We need to pray for this charismatic Lutheran pastor and for our Norwegian brothers and sisters in Christ, that they will succeed in steering Norway back to its Christian roots. What's happening in Norway provides an inspiration for American Christians, many of whom are despairing over the moral decline. As Paul wrote in Romans 1, men engage in evil deeds, and the people approve of those who practice them. But giving in to despair is exactly what we must not do. God is still in the miracle business. Just look at Norway, a nation where Christian influence had been almost extinguished. If it can happen in Norway, it can happen here. And that's exactly what you and I should pray for.


Chuck Colson


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