Doing missions and evangelism in Europe requires creativity and new ways of thinking in order to reach a very secular world. On Pentecost weekend in May 2013 our church was part of a unique outreach in our city called ‘Nacht des Glaubens’ or the ‘Night of Faith.’ The Night of Faith brought together the arts and Christian faith.
Basel is only major city in Switzerland that isn’t located near the Alps. We can’t see them on the horizon. So the city has sought to define itself as a city for arts and culture. It boasts more museums per person than any other European city. It has a vibrant music scene with venues for classical music and opera as well as jazz and rock. We have several theatres around the city for dance and stage productions. The organizers of the Night of Faith decided to marry this love for culture with Christian inspiration.
There were 35 venues with over 70 events and more than 300 artists. All the performances were of great quality by renowned artists and performers. There was also great diversity with people coming from different countries. In front of the main cathedral you could hear English, Japanese, Spanish or any number of languages.
Fortunately, the language of art is international. Chamber music, pop concerts or art exhibitions conveyed the idea that faith can influence the arts. The themes of redemption, hope, eternity and love flowed through the evening.
Our church was involved in helping to present a concert called “Prayers” which featured prayers from various operas or musicals. The event was staged in the main music hall of the city and turned out to be a great success. A local choir was supported by a visiting national orchestra of 50 people from Bulgaria. Our church hosted the visiting orchestra members in homes and acted as greeters and ushers on the night of the concert. But my kids preferred the Jars of Clay concert across town.
Over 15,000 people came out for the events that evening. For us it was encouraging on many levels. The churches in the city worked together and it created a good opportunity for unity. The city leaders were so impressed they helped with funding the whole event. Newspapers and television reports were positive and gave the evening a fair deal of coverage.
As believers in the city we were encouraged to know that there is a way to share the Christian message of hope and redemption in a secular context in a way that people will listen to. Our prayer is that we can build on the success of the event and have more opportunity to share in the community. The work of re-evangelizing the nations has begun.