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The Pentecostal Movement in Sweden | Josef Maxson

Josef Maxson, a representative of the Pentecostal movement in Sweden, discusses the history and growth of the movement in the country. He explains that the Pentecostal movement began in Sweden in 1907 and spread through Baptist churches. The movement grew rapidly under the leadership of Lewi Pethrus, with over 55,000 members after 20 years. Currently, there are around 440 Pentecostal churches in Sweden with 18,700 members. Maxson also highlights the missionary legacy of the Pentecostal movement, with Sweden having sent out more missionaries per capita than any other country. He mentions the impact of Swedish missionaries in countries like Liberia and Bangladesh. Maxson emphasizes that missions are still a key focus for the Pentecostal movement in Sweden, especially among young people. He shares his personal experiences of witnessing the power of the Holy Spirit in missions and the inspiration it brings to his work. The interview concludes with a prayer in Swedish for a new move of the Holy Spirit in the Pentecostal churches of Sweden.

Learn more about the Pentecostal Movement in Sweden: https://www.pingst.se/english/


Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:00):
Welcome to the Evangelism Podcast. I’m Daniel King. I’m excited about telling people about Jesus today. I have a very special guest with me, Josef Maxson from Sweden. Thank you for joining me today.

Josef Maxson (00:12):
Thank you. So nice to be in your podcast.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:15):
Well, we are here in Guinea, and we have been having a wonderful gospel campaign, and you came with one of the evangelists who’s here, and it’s been absolutely wonderful to get to know you. And you are actually working right now with the Pentecostal movement of Sweden. And so over the years, God has done really amazing things through the Pentecostal movement in Sweden. Let’s just start at the beginning. How did Pentecost come to Sweden?

Josef Maxson (00:54):
Yes, so I mean, the Pentecostal movement have been in Sweden since around 1907. So I mean, it started on Ausa Street and some years later it went first to Norway with a man called Barat. And in Norway it was a man called Ros. And he went there for a Bible school and to hear this Norwegian preacher preach about what’s happening over on Asa Street, and I mean the movement started to spread in the Scandinavian and mostly in the Baptist churches. So Lewi Pethrus, I mean, he gets to this teaching and he starts to preach it, and more and more people are listening to him and he starts ministering in a church in Stockholm, I think around this time also in the Baptist Church. And in this new Pentecostal movement, you don’t, meaning at that time you needed to be a member in the church. You took the holy communion.

And this was, I mean, they didn’t like this fault anymore. They wanted to, I mean, everybody could take the holy communion if you are a believer. So then this congregation that Levi Pets was pastoring, they decided to break up from the Baptist movement in Sweden, and they started their own church, so to say. And in that time, you can say the Pentecostal movement started in Sweden when they broke laws and they choose to be on their own. And then it continue in many different Baptist churches, but also people started new churches. So I think the first 10 years, it was around 50 churches that started that connected to the Pentecostal movements, so to say. And the founder in Sweden is Lewi Pethrus. So he was pastoring this church for nearly 50 years, and he was, the Pentecostal movement in Sweden shouldn’t exist without him. He was a real apostle and entrepreneur.

And his church grown a lot the coming year during the twenties and the thirties. And I mean, he was a road model for a lot of pastors. And what he said, they listened to him, so to say. And I think after 20 years there was over 55,000 members. And then they decided around between the wars like 1,930 to build a new church. And they built a church for, I think it was four, 4,000 attendance. And this was the biggest, not stadium, but city hall or church building, church building, or the biggest building to gather people in at that time in the northern part of Europe. So it was really big

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (04:49):
Building. They had big faith

Josef Maxson (04:53):
And I think it was the biggest for nearly 30 years or something.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (04:58):
So the Pentecostal movement has continued to grow and is now very mature. And you serve on the staff with the Pentecostal movement. What’s your position?

Josef Maxson (05:09):
So my position is head of communication. So I work with the marketing with the social media, our webpage, but also a lot connected to our events, leader events, pastors network, summer conference and youth conference, and different kind of campaigns during the year. We do a lot of advertisement around Christmas and during the Easter in the secular media to tell about Jesus and so on. So it’s a lot of different parts. We have a magazine coming out fourth time every year.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (05:54):
And so approximately how many churches and how many members would be considered Pentecostal now

Josef Maxson (06:03):
In the Pentecostal movement in Sweden, it’s around 440 churches right now, and the member is 18,700.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (06:14):
Wow. And so for a country the size of Sweden, that’s quite good.

Josef Maxson (06:20):
Yeah, it’s the biggest. In Sweden, we have had a church for over a thousand years, the state church, but the other churches called Free Church Free Churches. So this is the biggest dominations among the free churches, of course. I mean when it was as big as it was over 100,000 members, but it’s still the biggest dominations.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (06:47):
And so what is the spiritual atmosphere like in Sweden? As you mentioned, Christianity goes back a thousand years, but in that type of atmosphere, sometimes people’s love for Christ grow cold. And so what are the opportunities that the Pentecostal church sees and what are some of the challenges that you feel you’re facing right now?

Josef Maxson (07:12):
I mean, the Pentecostal movement was growing on until 1980s or something, and then this slowly started to getting down in numbers. But the last 10 years we have seen that the Baptist number have been going up, and we’ve seen a lot of new churches planting, I mean, to Sweden. We have a lot of refugee have been coming in the last 50 years, but especially the last 20 years. And they start new Pentecostal churches only in Stockholm, the capital. It had been started over a hundred new Pentecostal churches the last 10 years.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (07:57):
Wow. And do they come under the umbrella of the Pentecostal movement?

Josef Maxson (08:00):

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (08:01):
Of them or some of them stay independent.

Josef Maxson (08:02):
Some of them stay independent, and some of them come into the umbrella. And we are working quite hard to get them in. I mean, some of them don’t know for many years that it exists a Pentecostal movement or domination to be part of. So we work to them to get them in, and we see a lot of growth during that process.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (08:28):
Let’s talk about the missionary legacy of the Pentecostal movement, because I’ve been all over the world and I have seen the impact that missionaries from Sweden have had in different parts of the world. And so this last week I was in Foya, Liberia, right across the border from where we are. And there is a hospital, a school, a beautiful church building and a radio station and some other buildings that were built by Swedish Pentecostal missionaries that came back in the late 1940s, early 1950s and stayed there all the way up until the war. The big war happened in Liberia. And it is just amazing. The Pentecostal legacy continues today we’re working with my friend Billy Bimba, and his father was led to Jesus by one of the Swedish Pentecostal missionaries and pastored there for many years. And now his children and his grandchildren continued to minister in Liberia. And I’ve seen that in different places. I was just not too long ago in Bangladesh. And there’s a church there that has been supported by the Pentecostal movement, and it’s growing by leaps and bounds in a very unreached area. What are some of the other stories of impact that the Pentecostal Church of Sweden has had through the missionaries you’ve sent out?

Josef Maxson (10:01):
I mean before or when many of the churches started in the early 19 hundreds, before you built a church building, you send out missionaries or before you had your own pastor, you send out missionaries. So it’s really in the Pentecostal congregation in Sweden’s DNA to send out missionaries. And I mean, the impact is enormous. It’s hundreds of millions of Christians who have been coming through Swedish missionaries. And I

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (10:39):
Heard that at one time per capita, Sweden sent out more missionaries than any other country on earth.

Josef Maxson (10:45):
Yeah, that’s true. So I mean, I think we had started churches, the Pentecostal movement in Sweden has started churches in over a hundred countries all over the world. And I mean, most of them we have good relationships with today. And even if the work has been changed a bit, we still do a lot of work through our humanitarian organization. And we have a mission organization works with the media like radio and tv, and also a lot of congregation, they have their own relationships with different congregations and dominations and countries. And so to say, so I mean, a lot is in the history, but we still works a lot around the globe

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (11:37):
Today. And would you say that missions is still part of something that the churches want to support and want to be a part of?

Josef Maxson (11:44):
Yeah, I should say that’s one of the keytones in the Pentecostal movement. It have been, and it’s in the future also, but of course I should say it have been the last 30 years. They have been going down a little bit. But the last 10 years, it’s growing quite a lot. And especially among the young people, they got new burning heart for missions in all different ways and to build relationships, and you want to reach out with the gospel. I mean,

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (12:17):
Let’s talk about your burning heart for missions because you’re from the Pentecostal movement of Sweden, but this week you are here in Giga, do Guinea. And this morning, of course, we were at the fire conference with all the leaders from the city, and we were preaching on the Holy Spirit, laid hands on them. Many of them spoke in tongues for the first time. Many of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. Several even had demon manifestations that demons came out and the bad spirits came out, and then the Holy Spirit came in. And so it is really beautiful to see, but what is it that drives you as a young Swedish Pentecostal to go out on the mission field?

Josef Maxson (13:01):
I mean, the experience for myself is one important part of it to learn, to get a sense of the history of mission send out from Sweden, but also to see, I mean, unreached people getting to know Christ today. I mean, I’m growing up in a old church where you tell a lot of stories how it was back as many years ago. Sure, yeah. But it’s so interesting to go out now

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (13:37):
You have a fresh story just from this morning a few hours ago.

Josef Maxson (13:40):
Exactly. Exactly.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (13:42):
And even last night, we saw miracles. You were taking pictures of the people that were healed. There was one deaf woman and her ear was opened. One woman who was blind in one eye, her eye was open and you were taking pictures of them. And so now you have fresh stories that Jesus is still working today.

Josef Maxson (13:58):
And my normal work is a lot about how do we do missions in Sweden and to sometimes every year go out and to learn and to see how other do and what’s happened around the world. It’s getting me very inspiring. And to see that unreached people get to know Christ, even today, it gives a lot of hope when you work with Swedish teenager. And also to see how we can learn from different cultures and so on. And also to go out to meet people who have been infected about them. The earlier missionaries from Sweden, I mean, I went to Bible school in China, and we was out on the countryside, and then a man come in front of us, me and my friend who was there, and he thanked us, and he was crying like, thank you that you bring the gospel to me and my family over a hundred years ago.

And I mean the missionary who sent to China, I mean, this was in the late 18 hundreds. This was one way ticket to go to China from Sweden. You packed everything. You leave everything behind because you had some burning heart to tell the gospel. And I mean, to hear that and to understand that and to see that with my eyes, it’s getting me a lot of inspiring to continue my work. And then how can I both be helping in the mission doing around the world, but also how can we do a better work in Sweden? And I mean, it’s the next generation growing up. They have a hunger for something. In many years, it was hard to preach the gospel in Sweden because a lot of the youth said, I don’t want to hear. I don’t believe in God. I’m an ageist. But today you belong or belong for something and you want to hear and you want to experience spiritually chi and so on. That’s quite interesting to see what’s happening in the coming years. Yeah.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (16:13):
Amen. Well, I believe that every Pentecostal church is always praying for revival. And so let’s finish the interview today by praying together that God would pour out his spirit upon the Pentecostal churches of Sweden. That new fire would come, that new growth would come, and a new heart and passion for missions would come. And so can you finish? But instead of praying in English, can you pray in Swedish, pray for the Swedish Pentecostal Church to experience a new move of the Holy Spirit in this modern time?

Josef Maxson (16:47):
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yes…

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (17:24):
Amen. Well, thank you Joseph for being on the Evangelism Podcast.

Josef Maxson (17:29):
Thank you. Thanks Having me.

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