Geneva as a missionary centre

  Genevaasamissionarycentre1200x400.001You can read the full article online here, below is an excerpt used in Sunday's Bible talk on May 29th.

"Geneva was not a large city. During Calvin‘s lifetime it reached a peak of slightly more than 21,000 by 1560, of whom a goodly number were religious refugees. Nevertheless, it became the missionary center of Europe in this period of the Reformation. Calvin sought to harness the energies and gifts of many of the religious refugees so as to make Geneva central to the expansion of Reformation thought and piety throughout Europe. This meant training and preparing many of these refugees to go back to their native lands as evangelists and reformers.

Understandably Calvin was vitally concerned about the evangelization of his native land, France, and his countrymen, the French. It has been estimated that by 1562 some 2,150 congregations had been established in France with around 2 million members, many of them converted through the witness of men trained in Geneva. That 2 million comprised 50% of the upper and middle classes, and a full 10% of the entire population. The growth is enormous when one reckons that at the time of Calvin‘s conversion, there were probably no more than 3,000 or 4,000 Evangelicals in France.

But Calvin was concerned for not only France, but also for the reformation of the church in places like Scotland and England, Spain as well as Poland, Hungary and the Netherlands. He even encouraged a mission to Brazil in 1555, which turned out, though, to be a failure.

A colonizing expedition to Brazil was being led by a Frenchman, a certain Nicholas de Villegagnon. The Genevan church was asked to provide French-speaking ministers and some colonists to join the expedition. The missionary possibilities were clear to the leaders of the Genevan church. Contemporary chronicler (and participant in the expedition) Jean de Léry recorded that ?Upon ...hearing this news, the church of Geneva at once gave thanks to God for the extension of the reign of Jesus Christ in a country so distant and likewise so foreign and among a nation entirely without the knowledge of the true God."

Michael A.G. Haykin