50 Years of GLO in Europe

by Stephen McQuoid
Stephen is the General Director of GLO Europe.

 

Trying to summarise 50 years of mission endeavour in just a few pages is a near-impossible task. How can we express fully the sacrifice, courage and commitment to the gospel that has driven a work like this? However, at the risk of both oversimplification and omission of important events, I want to chart something of the progress of the ministry of GLO Europe over the past 50 years – a ministry in which I have been serving full time since 1990.

The story of GLO Europe began with a young man by the name of Colin Tilsley, whose parents were missionaries in India. Colin was sent home to England to finish high school and university where two events would change the course of his life. First, he met Cynthia, an Australian nurse who was on an extended trip to the UK and they decided their future would be together. Second, he attended the 1954 Billy Graham Harringay Crusade and became convinced about the importance of mass evangelism.

Colin went to Australia to start married life but, driven by a desire for mission, he began the work of GLO so that he could mobilise people for evangelism. The very first GLO team consisted of ten people who went from Australia to Madras, India, for two years where they sold half a million gospel packets. Meanwhile, Colin continued to recruit others and established a training centre in Australia so that prospective missionaries could be prepared for service.

Having begun the work of GLO in Australia, Colin and Cynthia, along with their growing family, moved to New Zealand to establish the work there. Then, in 1971, they came to the UK for the same purpose. They stayed for only three years before going home to Australia where, tragically, Colin developed motor neurone disease and died at the age of 46.

In 1974, the work of GLO Europe was formally established in Motherwell with the acquisition of a disused Church of Scotland building as a base. A committee was set up to oversee the work and the original team consisted of Robert and Eileen Kilpatrick, John and Cathie Speirs, and Fred and Ruth Kelling in Motherwell, and David and Joy Prosser in South Wales. Robert established a book ministry, which is today the GLO Bookshop, and Cathie Speirs began the GLO Coffee Shop. As the work developed, John Speirs became the first European co-ordinator for GLO. In

1975 Fred Kelling began the GLO Training Centre, which is now called Tilsley College. One of the first ministries to be established was mission teams being sent across Europe as well as the UK. To date, GLO short-term mission teams as well as resident GLO missionaries have worked in more than 800 locations across Europe.

Ray and Eunice Cawston joined the work and developed the training programme, renaming it the ‘Training for Service’ course. Later, church-based training also began, spearheaded by David Clarkson. Initially most GLO missionaries came from the UK but in time, national workers began to join and so the work grew. In that sense GLO is increasingly a truly European work. One of the first cities to benefit from a GLO resident team was Marseille, in the south of France, where churches were planted and the work continues to this day.

 

Mobilising & Equipping
Resourcing the church in Scotland and beyond also became a priority. The GLO Bookshop, which started in Hamilton, moved to the GLO Centre. When Geoff and Janet Ruston joined, they both ran the bookshop at different times with Geoff also running a book depot for a number of years on behalf of book distributor Send the Light (STL).1 The depot not only raised important finance but it also connected GLO with around 120 other Christian bookshops across Scotland and the north of England. Today, the bookshop continues to serve the UK market, but also provides help to missionaries and church leaders in many countries through online sales and advice on the latest resources.

Despite diversification, GLO Europe continued to maintain its core purposes which were:

• mobilising Christians for mission

• training and equipping them

• sending them to key locations and supporting them on the field.

 

The year 2008 was also significant as the GLO Committee established an executive team of four directors, which included Sam Gibson (mission), Mark Davies (training), Ian Smith (finance) and myself as General Director. We were tasked with developing
a strategic plan to take the work forward.

At its heart, GLO Europe is about the proclamation of the gospel and the planting of churches. From the moment someone joins a short-term mission team or begins a course of study at Tilsley College, this mission imperative is emphasised. Our whole ethos is to reach lost people, to share the good news of God’s love with them and encourage them to join us as followers of Jesus.

In 1974, the work of GLO Europe was formally established in Motherwell with the acquisition of a disused Church of Scotland building as a base.

 

Proclaiming the Gospel
The work of GLO Europe has continued to grow and is now a multicultural mission family of around 80 people serving all over the UK as well as countries such as Albania, France, Hungary, the Republic of Ireland, Italy and Romania. We all have a heart to bring the gospel to people across Europe and that vision has remained a vital part of GLO’s DNA.

As the work has developed there has also been a sense that we have been moving eastwards. Prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain, Fred Kelling used to make trips to Eastern Europe. As Europe opened up and GLO became established in countries such as Romania, Albania and Hungary, the huge need for upskilling church leaders and evangelists opened doors for us to become more heavily involved in church-based training. This was to complement the church-based training that was already firmly established within the UK. Today we are involved in a number of countries where we have no resident missionaries but where we train and mentor leaders and help churches with their growth and discipleship strategies.

Europe is not only one of the most challenging mission fields in the world, it also has some of the greatest spiritual needs. Moreover, today it is even more needy than the Europe of 1974. The population is larger, more diverse, more secular, has a much bigger and growing population of Muslims and people from other world faiths, and continues to be the continent where the church is doing less well. To put things in perspective, Africa has 182 million evangelical Christians, Latin America has 91 million while Europe has only 18 million.

Gospel work in Europe is not impossible – the churches that GLO workers are planting and the conversions that are taking place are evidence of this. However, it is a very hard place and, in order to reach our fellow Europeans for Christ, we will need to have courage, tenacity and a deep conviction that the gospel changes lives. Thankfully those traits have manifested themselves abundantly over the past 50 years.

 

Give Thanks
We give God thanks for His blessing over the past half-century. Please pray for us over the next 50 years. Our desire is to continue running short-term mission teams as well as sending out career missionaries. We will also continue to offer training so that we can see a new generation of gospel-focused leaders and evangelists raised up to impact this continent for Christ. Given our limited resources, we need to be strategic in all that we do so that we can maximise our impact. Thankfully we serve a God of unlimited resources and we are emboldened by the knowledge that He goes before us into the deep darkness that is the Europe of today.

News & Stories

Find out how God is moving across the globe.