Q&A with Larry Henderson
Larry Henderson, the newly appointed AG World Missions Europe regional director, responds to questions about himself and the field he serves.WorldView, the AGWM magazine, got the opportunity to sit down with the newly appointed AGWM Europe regional director, Larry Henderson, to discuss his heart for the region. Europe, a continent marked by secularism, is primed for a new move of God, and Henderson is excited to help bring that about in any way he can.
How did you become a Christian?
I had the great privilege of growing up as a third-generation Pentecostal believer. In fact, I attended the same small AG church from the time I was born until I moved away to attend college. When I was younger, I shared the faith of my family and made a profession of faith, but in my early teenage years, I settled into my personal faith and commitment to live my life for Jesus.
When did you feel called into missions? What was that like?
When I was 16, I went on a district Ambassadors in Mission (AIM) trip to Aruba. We shared Jesus through a tent crusade in a local community, and many people had encounters with God. One night at the altar, I couldn’t stop weeping as I was praying for people. That night, the Lord called me to live the rest of my life as a missionary. I went to my room that night and asked the Lord to confirm, through his word, what he was saying to me. As I read from 2 Corinthians 4:3-7, I felt that clear confirmation of God’s call to go.
“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
What is the vision the Lord’s placed on the hearts of you and your team for the European church?
Our vision is to establish missional, compassionate, healthy churches among the least-reached and least-engaged of Europe. Planting the Church in Europe is not just what we do; it defines who we are.
How is the spiritual landscape in Europe different today than it was, say, five years ago?
Europe continues to become more secularized all the time. The challenges we face in this context continue to intensify, yet God is using our missionaries to see more people come to Jesus than we’ve seen in previous seasons.
Due to challenges in countries such as France or Sweden, where the state church no longer feels relevant to the average European, we are planting “communities of faith” in comparison to conventional models that equate the word “church” with tradition or religion that says, “I don’t need God. I really don’t need the Church.”
As missionaries to Europe, we are committed to being reflective practitioners that demonstrate an apostolic ministry that is continually assessing where we are and what the Spirit is leading us to do. We’re committed to think broader and farther than just a weekend experience. We want to see our investments in church planting among the most secular of Europe make a major spiritual impact and empower our national partnerships.
How have our spiritual mothers and fathers laid the foundation for this new move of God?
We stand on the shoulders of incredible missionaries who walked the road of long obedience in the same direction. They paid a great price over the years as they faced persecution, fluid politics, limited resources, health crises, and family needs, all while working diligently to contextualize the gospel for Europeans. They are our heroes, and we honor them for the foundation they laid that strategically positions us today.
How is the truth of Jesus best communicated in Europe?
The gospel is best communicated in Europe through missionaries who live out their faith in Jesus as they embed themselves in the cultural context of the place of their calling. There is no substitute for missionary boots on the ground, and there’s no substitute for a personal gospel witness. A few years ago, missionary Deb Galyen was sharing her faith with a university student who proclaimed to be an atheist. As their conversation progressed, the young lady said, “I don’t believe in God, but I need him.”
Europeans don’t feel the traditional state church is relevant or that the God it speaks of will make a difference in their lives. This young lady reflects the cry of their heart: “If there really is a God like that, I need him.”
What do you think are European missionaries’ greatest prayer needs?
We ask that your readership would pray that our missionaries live in the empowerment and anointing of the Holy Spirit! We recognize we are co-laborers with Christ and that the Holy Spirit is already working in the hearts of people who don’t fully know him. We also recognize our complete dependence on Him. Our team seeks to live fully in His presence as we walk out our faith in humility and obedience to God’s Missio Dei (mission of God).
What’s something you think the American church would be surprised to know about what God’s doing in Europe?
Our greatest joy is seeing God orchestrate divine appointments between our missionaries and the people that He loves so much. We experience encounters regularly that parallel the story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10. God is miraculously providing us with platforms to reflect his love.
At this time, there are unprecedented opportunities in Europe to establish the Church. There’s never been a greater moment in our historical mission efforts than right now. The COVID-19 pandemic, waves of refugees from Ukraine, and cooperation from our national church partners have given our missionaries chances to share the love of Christ with individuals far outside their typical sphere of influence. We believe God is calling new missionaries to all kinds of ventures, such as planting university ministries in the secularized Nordic countries or helping to build the Church in the ever-changing Balkan region. We are confident that He is calling many to lose themselves for Jesus across every country in Europe.
We want the American church to know the greatest awakening for Europe is still in front of us.
This article originally appeared in Worldview magazine. Used with permission.