Dear Sabbath School Leader,

This quarter we feature the Inter-European (formerly Euro-Africa) Division, which includes the countries of Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Holy See, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Spain, and Switzerland. 

More than 338 million people live in the Inter-European Division, but only about 177,750 are Seventh-day Adventists, a ratio of about one Adventist for every 1,900 people. 

The Challenges

Portugal is a modern and largely secular country. Its location near Africa makes it a portal to immigrants from that continent. Many immigrants who settle in Portugal are finding it difficult to support their families on the meager wages they can earn. They lack warm clothes and household goods necessary to make a new life in Europe. 

The Adventist Church in Portugal is working to reach the newcomers by providing surplus food, clothing, and household goods as well as providing classes to help them learn skills that will enable them to adapt to their new homeland.

Bulgaria has struggled economically since it emerged from years under Communist rule. It has experienced economic growth, but remains one of the lowest economic nations in the European Union.

The church in Bulgaria remained strong during Communist times and continues to grow, though at a slow rate. However, among the close-knit Romani—the Gypsy—people, the church has found fertile ground and is growing rapidly. They often worship in rented apartments or small halls. A simple church will allow them to invite more Romani and their families and friends to worship God. 

The Czech Republic is a modern, secular post modern culture. The nation is one of Europe’s most atheistic countries. Fewer than 10 percent of the people regularly attend any worship service. Young people who did grow up in a religious environment are especially vulnerable to the call of the world during their university years.  

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