Pastor Samuel Jonsson pastors a local church in the south of Sweden. On today’s episode of the Evangelism Podcast we talk about what God is doing in Sweden, the spiritual atmosphere in Sweden, and how the Pentecostal church of Sweden is reaching out to their communities with the love of Christ.
Learn more about Pastor Samuel Jonsson: www.hovslattpingst.se
In this podcast episode, Evangelism Coach Daniel King interviews Pastor Samuel Jonsson from Sweden. Pastor Jonsson discusses the challenges of spreading the gospel in Sweden, a secular and individualistic country. However, he remains hopeful, noting that God is raising up young leaders and churches are starting to reach out and grow. Pastor Jonsson shares his church’s efforts to reach a specific area with a high concentration of broken homes and single parents. They have started a Sunday school and a children’s choir, which has attracted children from non-Christian homes. He also emphasizes the importance of pastors going on mission trips to expand their worldview and gain new perspectives. The episode concludes with a testimony of an 80-year-old man from Pastor Jonsson’s church who returned to a country he had previously worked in and witnessed the growth of the church.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:00):
Welcome to the Evangelism Podcast. I’m Daniel King and I’m excited about telling people about Jesus. Today I have a very special guest with me, pastor Samuel Jonsson from the nation of Sweden. Thank you for joining me today.
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (00:14):
Thank you so much for joining this podcast. It’s wonderful.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:17):
And so you are pastoring in the nation of Sweden. You have a Pentecostal church. Tell me what is God doing in Sweden right now?
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (00:32):
I think God is doing a lot of things in Sweden. It’s quite, Sweden is quite a tough country in some ways, very individualistic, very secular in some ways. So it’s a quite hard time getting through everything else with the gospel, the message. But I think God is racing up young leaders and I think God is racing up leaders who wants to search the gifts of the Holy Spirit, get more into what God is doing, what God is saying, what God wants to do for the nation of Sweden. So I have hope for the nation of Sweden. I think God will do great things, but maybe we have to go through some tough things also during the way, but we can see some churches starting to reach out more, growing a little bit more. And then some churches of course struggling, especially in the north of Sweden, maybe small churches struggling a lot. And also in the south of Sweden, church is struggling because they’re quite small, some of them. But still I think God is moving in many ways. I can see small, I don’t know how to say it, but small signals of great things to come. I don’t know how to explain it better than that, but a longing for the things of God and a longing for the spirit of God to start to move and talk and speak and direct and heal and so on.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (02:05):
Now in what part of Sweden is your church located?
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (02:09):
We are located in the south of Sweden, not the furthest down, I dunno how to say
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (02:15):
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (02:16):
But in the south of Sweden. Yes.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (02:18):
And I’ve heard that that area is maybe known as the Bible belt of Sweden. You have many believers in that area, but of
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (02:26):
Course there’s, compared to the rest of Sweden, there’s
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (02:28):
Still many people that need Jesus.
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (02:31):
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (02:31):
Definitely. In the context of your area, what are you doing to reach out to the lost and bring people to Jesus?
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (02:42):
Yeah, if I go to my church, the church where I’m a pastor, we are trying to specifically actually reach out to a specific area where we live. Of course we tried to reach out to all people where we live, but God gave us a heart for a specific, is like a small, I don’t know how to say it in English, but apartment, house area, something like that. Many families live there who have a quite tough situation, single parents and broken homes and so on. And we just received the heart for that area to try to reach out. So the woman who is a child and family pastor in our church, she got the vision together with a couple of other guys to start to have a Sunday school in this area. So on a regular basis they go up there on Sundays first we meet together, all of us in church and we pray together, together with this team and together with the rest of the church, we’ll celebrate.
We have worship in church and then they go up and they have a Sunday school for kids. But the focus is also to reach out to the whole family. So primarily through the kids, but then through the kids to the parents as well. And in this area we also had small, you say small events, gone there, done fun things for the kids, just blessing them, talk to people, get to know people. So we are trying in different ways to reach out to this specific area because we realized that almost none of the churches where we have people coming from this area to their churches. So it’s almost like a small subculture almost in the outskirts of the area. So we are trying to get in there and trying to reach people with the gospel. But then we also actually, I want to tell you about a kid’s choir. That’s also,
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (04:58):
I think this idea is a very unique outreach idea. You were telling me about your children’s pastor and she has started this choir for the children and what is that?
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (05:10):
Yeah, she got the vision for that. Also, I think our kids pastor has some kind of an evangelistic heart and she just got a vision to start kids choir in the area. So first we just had kids from our church maybe in the beginning starting to come and they wanted to sing and learn to sing and so on. But then the kids started to take their friends from school into this choir. So a lot of friends came who came from non-Christian homes into this choir. So I think now they can gather on Tuesday evenings and on Tuesday evenings there can be 70 kids, sometimes 60 to 70 kids and maybe half of it are from non-Christian homes. So then we have added special services Sunday services on a regular basis during the semesters where we try to, we invite everyone, all of these families to come because the kids’ choir will sing and we try to give different kids and the choir specific roles.
So the families really will come because they want to see their kids and then they come and listen to their kids singing. And we just try to incorporate dramas into those services and incorporate a simple gospel message just to present the gospel in Jesus Christ to these families. And we have not yet seen the fruit we are praying for, but we are just trying to continue in that direction because just recently actually we had this kind of a service for, I think it was two weeks ago or three weeks ago. And then a grandma who had followed the family to the church, she told one of our leaders afterwards, I don’t think she was a Christian or had any Christian heritage in that way, but she said that these services means so much to me. It was like something touched her heart, but maybe she could not spell it out what it was. I believe it was the spirit of God of course, but maybe she could not spell it out. So we are trying to reach out also through this choir. And then the church where I’m a pastor is really, I told you in the car, I think it’s a really entrepreneurial church, many entrepreneurial people. So there are more ideas than we can almost do so many ideas, so many visions. But it’s really fun.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (07:57):
I think that’s really wonderful. I think in the years to come, some of those entrepreneurial ideas will result in grapefruit for the kingdom of
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (08:05):
God. Yeah, I hope. I
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (08:07):
Sure hope. Let’s talk about your history. How did you become a believer? How did you know that you were called to be a pastor?
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (08:16):
Yeah, I grew up in a Christian home. So I grew up in a Pentecostal church and both of my parents were a part of the church. My father was an elder in the church, but when I was quite young, I think I was nine years old, I remember quite vividly that my sister came home. I don’t know where she had been or maybe she had been to a camp or something. But she came home one day and we sat and we ate dinner. And I remember my sister started to talking about God and saying things about God that touched me in a special way. I had never experienced that because I remember looking into my sister, I was only nine years old, but remember it still, I was looking at my sister and I realized she has something that I don’t have. I had some kind of faith in God.
I remember, I mean we prayed together as a family. We prayed in the evening and so on. We could read the Bible together. And I had a children’s kind of faith maybe, but I saw something in her eyes and I realized she has something. And later on I realized that she had in some way accepted Jesus entire life. And that made me think at an early age think like what is this? And I started to pray. I remember in my own room like Jesus, I also want what she has. But then the specific moment came when I was at a big conference and I remember I had decided in my heart that tonight I want to really spell out a prayer that Jesus, I want you here in my heart. So I said to my mother, we were sitting in the front row seat that the conference, and I remember still that I turned to my mother at the end of the service and I said to her, I want to become a Christian. And then she followed me to what you call it when the
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (10:20):
Altar, the altar,
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (10:21):
Exactly to the altar. They had an altar called people were coming in front of the preacher or what? It
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (10:32):
Was for the altar time. Yeah,
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (10:35):
For the altar time, exactly. So I was just following my mother, and then an old man came up to us and he asked, what do you want? And I said, I want to become a Christian. And I remember praying that prayer, not feeling very much. I did not have a specific feeling in my body or anything, but from that moment, I have never looked back. It’s like Jesus has been the biggest part of my life since that moment. And then I got baptized a couple of years later when I was 11 or 12 or something, 11 years old. I think I had to wait a little bit. And then I got baptized. And then when I was in seventh grade, I experienced the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues for the first time at the church service, like a prayer service or something like that in my home church. I was sitting alone and just feeling the spirit, starting to draw me to him and then giving me words, speaking of tongue.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (11:35):
And then how did you know that you were called to be a pastor? To be in the ministry?
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (11:41):
It’s a quite long process actually. But when I was in seventh, eight, nine grade somewhere, I started to think a lot about what am I going to do with my life? And remember quite early that sometimes when I thought about that, I started to think maybe I should be a preacher or maybe I should do missionary work or maybe I should. I started to have those thoughts in my mind, but I was pushing it away because I thought that pastor is always not for me. It’s like old men in strange clothing and I don’t want to be that. So I pushed it away. But then when I came to, I think in the states, you call it senior high school. In Sweden we call it gymnasium. So when I came to gymnasium when I was like 16, 17, 18 years old, then I started to become really passionate about serving God.
So we started a group in school, me and some friends, we had a group in the school, we were going to a Christian group and we did outreach and gave away books and gave away Bibles and did different events. And the passion to serve God just grew in me during that season. I could not say that I have a calling to become a pastor, but I just knew I want to serve Jesus. Jesus is the best thing I want to serve him. So that grew in my heart really during that period. And then when I came out of high school, I was still quite confused, what am I going to do with my life? But then I had some different events happening that pointed me in this direction. First it was actually, I worked at an industry where my father worked just for a short period of time.
And one day when I was standing there and working, I actually heard a voice. I think this was almost the first time where I can say I heard almost a clear voice. I almost jumped because I heard a voice saying that when you come home from work, your pastor are going to call you and he will offer you a yoga church to be a youth youth leader. And I was like, what is this? I remember going to the toilet and being like, God, was that you? It was so whoop. But then when I came home, I went up to the tv, put on the tv, and then 30 minutes later the phone rang and I just immediately knew my pastor is calling now, my mom picked up the phone and she called me Samuel Michael, our pastor is calling you. And I was like, yep.
Speaker 3 (14:31):
It’s like God calling Samuel in the Bible, Samuel.
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (14:34):
Yeah, it was so specific, I just knew it. Okay, yes, I will take this. I took the phone, hello, Hey, we have been thinking do you want to work as a youth leader here in the church? And I was like, yeah, I’m going to think about it. You had a word from God, you knew he was calling. Let me pray about it a little bit. Yes, let me just pray. But I knew the answer of course. So then I worked at my home church for a short period of time. And then one year later or half year later, I went to Peru actually with a friend. We were on a short mission trip together, me and my friend. And in Peru, I once again heard that clear voice. And that was also very specific. I remember one night when I was laying in my bed, I just suddenly heard a voice say, when you come home, you are going to go to Bible college.
And he also told me what bible college it was. You will know when you get home why you are going to that specific Bible college. And in that bible college you will get what you call it. You will get direction for where and how you will serve me. So then I came to the Bible college. I met my then soon to be wife early on in the Bible college. And we started to date and see that we experienced, we felt that we should be together. And then at that bible college, in the beginning of it, I once again a third time heard the voice talk. And I remember the voice said that in the spring you will get an offer to start to work at the church and I want you to say yes, and then you will continue in that direction. So when the spring came, once again, that situation occurred.
So we got an offer, me and my then soon to be wife. We had an offer from a church in the north part of Sweden, far up north to come and work together with them quite broadly. We worked as some kind of youth workers, youth and kids workers, maybe you could call it, but also very evangelistic and also quite pioneering, but also preaching, teaching and everything. We had to do everything. So it was a great school actually to be there. So we was there for three years and then I felt, okay, this is what God has laid on my heart to work, to be in church, to be in ministry, continue as a pastor in different capacities. So then I went to study theology. So then we went to Stockholm in Sweden, the capital, I studied theology and leadership, and my wife studied to be an OB optician.
I think you can say. She had had that on her heart for a very long time to become that. So we was in Stockholm studying. And then I actually once again heard that voice. I’ve been hearing, of course God speaks all the time, but sometimes you can hear it more specifically, I believe. So I heard the voice when I was studying, say that the church where you are practicing now, they will ask you to become their senior pastor. And also once again, I want you to say yes. And I was like, I can’t be a senior pastor. Of course I can be on staff, I can be in a team, but can I lead the church? I had, it felt too big almost for me. I was only like 27 years old at that time or something. So I was like, oh no, that’s too big.
But then it came later on, a year later from that time because their pastor sadly became quite sick. The one I worked together with him in a small, I had a small percentage. I was paid a small percentage. So I worked at the church together with him, and then it became sick. And then they asked me, and then we just felt, yeah, God has prepared this, so let’s stay. So when I had studied, I continued in that church outside of Stockholm, a suburb of Stockholm. That’s like a long trajectory, but small steps where God has led. It
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (18:53):
Is beautiful to see how God has spoken to you at several key moments in your life and given you direction. Now, right now you and I are together in Asia, and I don’t want to mention exactly the particular country that we’re in, but we are here telling people about Jesus. Now I have a question for you. Do you think that pastors should regularly go on mission trips to different parts of the world? And what benefit would that be to a pastor?
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (19:31):
First, I just want to say definitely I think you should go if you have the possibility. And the church may have the economy to send you away sometimes once in a while, I think you should do it definitely. Because especially when you come from the West, and maybe if you come from Europe who is quite once again quite individualistic, quite secular, it’s a quite tough place sometimes to be spiritually, I think. But then to also come to other places and see other kinds of soils almost,
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (20:08):
They have a different set of problems. Yeah,
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (20:10):
Yeah. Every part of the world have their problems, but sometimes it can be good to change the
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (20:16):
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (20:17):
To see something else and see how other kinds of churches are thinking to see how they are working, to see how they are reaching out to the neighborhood. And when you come to places like this, we are now in Asia or I have traveled to Africa several times and you see, you can see, especially maybe when I was in Africa, you can see their hunger for God and their hunger to pray, their hunger to seek things of the kingdom, their hunger to lay hands on the Sikh and pray for them and believe that something actually can happen that stirs something in your heart that you have to take home. I mean, you can’t leave it there. You have to take it home
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (21:04):
At the very least. It gives you some good stories to tell next time.
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (21:08):
Yeah, exactly. Definitely good stories to tell in your service. But I think, yeah, I always recommend, I had actually, when I was in Stockholm, I was the pastor of a satellite church and I had senior pastor working, leading me of course, and leading all the satellite church pastors. And he once said that you have to travel as a pastor from your country to other countries because you have to expand your world, otherwise you will become very narrow-minded and just thinking that you have all the answers and you know everything. So you have to, on a regular basis, expand your world. And I have carried that thought with me. If I have the chance to go away for a week or some days and you see something else and experience another culture, another church. And then I take it. And then I also love to travel, so it’s nice to travel, but I like that idea to expand the mind and expand the world and not become too narrow.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (22:20):
Now, there is a really wonderful testimony that has happened this week in this part of Asia. The Swedish Pentecostal church has actually been working for many years, and you brought with you one older gentleman from your church. He’s 80 years old, and he actually was here in this country working back in 1985.
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (22:46):
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (22:47):
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (22:48):
84, 85 until I think 87 or something like that.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (22:52):
Yeah. And so at that time, the church in this nation was very small, and now it is growing. They have gone from only a handful of locations to now over 450 different congregations with over 50,000 believers just in this one network of churches. And it was so beautiful to see this 80 year old, great man of God, come back and see some of the fruit of what the seeds that were planted so many years ago.
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (23:32):
It was so beautiful. And he both were a part of the leadership seminar we had. And I mean, his English is not so well right now, but still sitting there and listening to him teach. And you think about how he planted that seed for like 35 years ago or something like that, more than 35 years ago, and he now gets to sit in front of young leaders in the north part of this country and teach them the word of God. I think it was so, it touched my heart, but then also to see him lead in the prayer of salvation yesterday at the campaign, it also touched me so much because you can see the faithfulness of God and you can see how he has walked with Jesus all his life, and he still has a passion for the kingdom of God. I mean, he’s seen a lot. He both have seen the good things and the ugly things in church and in the Christian life, and he’s seen everything of that. But still, he has a passion, a soft heart. A soft heart for God, and a soft heart for
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (24:43):
People. Now tell me his name. How do you pronounce it?
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (24:49):
Sorry, not the common name in the States.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (24:52):
Yeah. Well, it was so beautiful to see, and it really encourages me because it means that the seeds that we plant today, imagine what God will do 30, 40 years from now. Can you imagine being 80 years old and coming back to some of the places where you have sowing seed
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (25:11):
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (25:11):
Seeing a great harvest?
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (25:12):
Yeah. That’s a dream. That would be a dream.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (25:16):
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (25:17):
Could be in that place.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (25:18):
Amen. Well, brother Samuel, thank you so much for being on the Evangelism Podcast. I appreciate it.
Pastor Samuel Jonsson (25:23):
Thank you. Thank you, Daniel. Good to meet you.