To be read on Sabbath, March 31, 2012
The Special Sabbath School Offering will be gathered on April 7, 2012
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14.
The geography of Norway is characterized by mountain ranges and naked plateau (den Fjells). Twenty-six mountains reach up to a height of 2,300 meters (7,500 feet). The highest mountain top in the continental part of the country is Galdhøpiggen, which is 2,469 meters high (8,100 feet). It belongs to the Jotunheimen range. The Atlantic coast, which is almost 25,000 kilometers (15,000 miles) long (to which is added the coasts of the islands–an additional 80,000 kilometers), is formed by innumerable deep, narrow bays that carry the water of the sea inland. Without those fjords and bays, the Atlantic coast would be only 2,650 kilometers (1,646 miles) long. Norway’s border is 1,619 kilometers (1,006 miles) long, with 727 kilometers (452 miles) separating it from Finland and 196 kilometers (122 miles) dividing it from Russia. Approximately 150,000 islands belong to this country. The best-known archipelagos are Lofoten and Vesterålen. In the interior of the country, there are waterfalls and rivers with an abundance of fish. Lake Mjøsa, with an area of 365 square kilometers (141 square miles), is the largest interior lake. The longest river is the Glomma, which is 601 kilometers (373 miles) long. In the city of Fredrikstad, this river flows into the Oslo fjord. Statistics show that the most populated island is Hinnøya, with an area of 2,204 square kilometers (851 square miles), in the north of Norway.
Seventy-five percent of the country’s population lives in big cities; and the remaining 25 percent, in rural regions. The population density presents a significant contrast between the relatively well-populated southern and western coasts and the north. Besides the difference between the north and the south, there is a more evident difference between the well-populated coastal regions and the sparsely inhabited mountainous interior with densely populated valleys. In addition to the city of Oslo (with 550,000 inhabitants), Norway has three other cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants–Bergen, Trondheim, and Stavanger. The fifth largest city is Fredrikstad with 72,000 inhabitants. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the population has doubled; there were 2.21 million in 1900 and 4.83 million in 2009. The population is now increasing at a rate of 62,000 people per year, by 2009 records. This increase is due not only to the fact that the country has one of the highest birthrates in Europe, but also to the migration of foreign workers and their families and the many wealthy foreign retired people who come to settle in the country. Eighty-nine percent of the population are Norwegians who have at least one parent who was born in Norway. Besides this, there are minority groups–about 40,000 Samen and 10,000 Finns (Kvenen).
On January 1, 2009, there were 508,199 immigrants living in Norway. They came from the following countries: Poland (44,482 people, 0.9 percent of the total population), Pakistan (30,161, 0.6 percent), Sweden (28,730, 0.6 percent), Iraq (24,505, 0.5 percent), Somalia (23,633, 0.5 percent), Germany (20,916, 0.4 percent), Vietnam (19,726, 0.4 percent), Denmark (19,284, 0.4 percent), Bosnia and Herzegovina (15,683, 0.3 percent), Iran (15,666, 0.3 percent), Turkey (15,436, 0.3 percent).
The state religion is Evangelical-Lutheran. The highest authority in the state church is the king. Since 1851, all the inhabitants of Norway have enjoyed the right to practice their religion freely. About 10 percent take part in religious services and other activities regularly. Division according to religion is as follows: 82 percent are members of the Lutheran state religion; 3.7 percent are other Protestants; 1.6 percent, Muslims; 1.1 percent, Catholics; and 0.2 percent, Buddhists, according to January 1, 2008, records. In 2007, there were about 2,000 Jews living in Norway.
The prevailing languages in the Norwegian community are Bokmål, Nynorsk, and Neutral. Norwegian is a North-germanic language influenced by northern German. Besides Norwegian, particularly in the north, the languages of the national minorities are spoken–Samish and Finnish. In the communities where the Samist population predominates, their language has been compulsory for the students to learn in school since 1992. Norwegians have the option of learning German or French at school, while English is compulsory.
There are souls looking for the truth in every country, and our mission is to preach the message also in this country. Jesus promised that He would be with His servants “even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20. Some years ago, we held public meetings in Oslo. The first steps have been taken, and now we need to continue the work by faith, trusting the Lord. At present, we have two members and some interested souls in this country; but to be able to carry out more intensive missionary work we need to rent a meeting place. Literature also needs to be prepared and printed, and funds are needed to hire a Bible worker.
Dear brothers and sisters and friends of the truth, the living standard in Norway is quite high, and to develop the work we need good financial support. Our Saviour said: “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:20, 21.
Let us support God’s work with our offerings and prayers, thus providing for ourselves imperishable treasure in heaven. May the Lord help us and bless us with precious new souls in Norway. Do not forget that your donation may bear much fruit for eternal life.
“The message of the soon coming of the Saviour must be given in all parts of the world, and a solemn dignity should characterize it in every branch. A large vineyard is to be worked, and the wise husbandman will work it so that every part will produce fruit. If in the medical missionary work the living principles of truth are kept pure, uncontaminated by anything that would dim their luster, the Lord will preside over the work. If those who bear the heavy burdens will stand true and steadfast to the principles of truth, the Lord will uphold and sustain them.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 289.
May our Saviour bless the believers and friends of the truth all over the world.
General Conference Regional Representative