Anna Sander was featured in the first article about TEAM’s new work in Sweden. Her humorous yet powerful testimony about coming to Christ as an exchange student in the United States and her alienation as a Christian upon her return to Sweden were some of the most memorable stories from that article.
Anna is still a very active member of New Life Stockholm with her husband, Samuel, and new baby, Molly. In one of the video sequences from that original video, Anna’s interview is followed by a shot of Samuel walking into the New Life sanctuary. I like to think we had some intuition about the future couple. Samuel is an artist and very involved in the Synergy ministry. He is also one of the long-standing members of the church, coming as a youth nearly 12 years ago. Anna continues serving women who are victims of sexual abuse, many of whom are working on the streets of Stockholm. The ministry has grown over the past six years to include a safe apartment to provide a space for building relationships and once a- week counseling.
Anna explains that the ministry was frustrated in the beginning because women would accept temporary help getting off the streets but often returned. She discovered that many of the women had been abused as children. She went back to school for counselor training to be able to address the psychological and spiritual needs of the women. One big surprise for Anna is how readily the women accept the truths of the Bible especially in comparison to the often skeptical Swedish public. The women tell her, “when you’ve been living in hell you believe in God when you hear about him,” she said. “They have really seen the devil and now it is easy to believe in God.”
When I ask the young couple what New Life means to them, they give an example from their lives that day. They were busy moving and needed help. “We just made a phone call and soon a group of people from New Life showed up. New Life is like a family that speaks many languages, practices many different customs, experiences God in different modes of worship, and comes from a diverse background and social status,” Anna said. Hasse remembers a time when this vision was severely tested. “It is difficult, because there is a tendency in all of us to go back to our own little group,” he said. Yet, the group remains strong and unified in their faith. New Life Church is a testimony to the missionary vision of the church, and that is why it is a special place.
-Written by Ray Scott
-Photography by Robert Johnson
[Originally published in TEAMHorizons, March 2011]Download This Issue of TEAMHorizons