Belgium

20 10 2012

Two facts I knew about Belgium:

(1) They like horse meat. Living at Peterborough, South Australia, we were aware of the local abattoir being the destination for horses that had no future ‘use’ (remember that you slow ‘Melbourne Cup nags’). I asked where the horse meat was being exported to… ‘Belgium’ came the answer. They eat it.

(2) “Belgians in the Congo”. Billy Joel sang it in ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’! In 2002 the Belgium Government apologised for their 1961 assassination of the Congo’s first Prime Minister, and made way for repairing the abuse of colonial power with— reconciliation.

Now for some other insights. 62.7% of the Belgian population are listed as Christian. 32% non-religious, 4% Muslim and some others. There are only 10.5 million people here at ‘The Crossroads of Western Europe’.  Feature: politics is at a bit of a deadlock, but, with ‘Liberal social policies consistently pursued to a degree only matched by the Netherlands’. Interpret this as, ‘kind-of-on the downward slide’ in lots of ways.

There are genuine enthusiastic believers among the populace, many of whom are recent immigrants. Catholicism is in rapid decline.

It is a deeply divided nation, with (1) Latin/Romance and (2) Germanic worlds, with further (3) immigrant cultural world-views.  Walloons-Flemish rivalry and resentments colour the use of language, the economy, politics, religious life and viewpoints of the world about them.

We pray that the church may become a profound example of unity to the wider society. 

  • “The Bible has been reintroduced to Belgian society after many years of being discouraged, even banned by the Catholic Church before 1960.”
  • “Spiritually, Belgium isone of the most needy countries in Europe, with great spiritual apathy and faith largely banished from the public sphere”.
  • “Brussels is a strategic city” (The Capital). 32% Foreigners. 8% Evangelical. 13% Muslim. Over 45 nationalities of 1,000 or more.
  • Pray for the student work among 250,000 students over 17 different Universities.
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