Population: 3.3 million (2012)
Official language: Lithuanian
Major religion: Catholicism
IFES movement: Lietuvos krikščionių studentų bendrija (LKSB)
Lithuania is a post-Soviet country in northern Europe and the largest of three Baltic states. 77% of people claim to be Catholic, yet an overwhelming majority of them are nominal. There is a tiny minority of evangelical Christians (1.1%). The younger generation of Lithuanians think Christianity is mostly irrelevant and interest in other forms of spirituality is growing. To be an evangelical Christian is seen as too radical, intolerant and sectarian.
- 23 private and state universities with some 114,000 students, 3 LKSB groups
- 3 full-time staff
- embryonic graduate ministry
- largest group is in Kaunas (average 20 students)
LKSB is a small movement without many resources and facing many challenges. In recent years, they have seen a general decrease of student involvement. This is partly because staff members invested more in big local events, thus are unable to supervise student groups in other cities. On the other hand, they have seen a great openness in the universities and are glad for the opportunities to reach out to larger audience of students.
LKSB is planning to renew work in one more city, which will make three cities in total. As in most of European countries, post-Christian societies, students are very suspicious of Christianity and build their opinions on their assumptions about Christianity, which are often very misleading. However, it would be wrong to think that they are not interested in religion or spirituality. More and more they are open to different spiritual experiences. An additional problem is that Evangelical churches in Lithuania are small, divided and often inward-looking, presumably due to a lack of understanding of the culture they live in.
View from the inside
Stepas Ribokas has been General Secretary of LKSB since 2008. Although he does not see big results in his ministry, he is excited when he sees students growing in confidence in the gospel and becoming more committed Christians, growing in love for Christ.
Several Bible passages have inspired Stepas over the years: ‘When I was a second-year student about 12 years ago, I read Nehemiah 4:17 where the builders of the Jerusalem wall were constructing with one hand and holding a weapon in the other. This is what my life and ministry looks like – that impression has never really left me. The second passage is from Haggai. The people longed for much, but got little or nothing because they were not concerned about God and his glory, and then in Haggai 2:19 God challenges to see what will happen once He is glorified. Haggai challenged me to decide on my priorities in life.’
- for new groups to be formed through student contacts in various places;
- for a daily renewal of God’s spirit of perseverance and hope for leaders;
- for students to grow in love for Christ, and to become more committed to ministry;
- for the university students to become more open to the gospel.