What is Austria like?
The Republic of Austria lies in central Europe, with the Alps occupying about two-thirds of the country's territory. The valley of the Danube River and the gentle plains of the southeast contain major population centres such as Graz and the capital, Vienna. Austria has a colourful past and present: the Habsburg Empire, Alpine skiing, Olympic champions, yodellers, lederhosen, Strauss waltzes, Lippizaner stallions, Vienna Boys Choir, Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Hitler, the Iron Curtain, refugees... a neutral country bordered by eight nations at the heart of Europe.
Austria is a very comfortable and safe culture and country, but also relationally very cold and lonely. Though society is permeated with religion, only about 0.5% are evangelical believers - hence Austria is spiritually dark and in desperate need of the light of the gospel.
What does the Team do?
Though there is flexibility for co-workers' areas of interest and sense of calling, the twin task of most co-workers is to work both in outreach to international students and alongside national students in the Österreichische Studentenmission - ÖSM - the Austrian Student Mission, encouraging and supporting their work.
What are the main areas of ministry?
There are four main areas of ministry:
- encouraging young national believers,
- learning from them and helping them grow in Christ;
- and helping the development of pioneering student groups.
Evangelism is carried on by every possible means, but especially through personal friendships, work in student dormitories, and evangelistic Bible studies.
What is the present state of the work?
The work has been strongly led by Austrian students for 25 years in some university cities, whereas in others the one or two known believing students are not strong enough to lead the work alone. Because the number of believers is small and the majority are first generation Christians who were converted in high school or university, virtually all Austrian members share an active commitment to evangelism. Passive attendance is rare.
What special requirements are there for joining an Austrian InterAction Team?
Visa: A visa is required for citizens of countries outside the European Union. This must be applied for before arriving in Austria.
Language: German language ability is necessary - the equivalent of A level or one year of university-level study. Some have chosen to come and study for one or two semesters before joining the team.
Alternatively, those without the German language may be accepted if they are prepared to start a language course over the summer and enrol on a language course once in Vienna.
What about accommodation, living costs, courses for InterAction Team Members?
A small proportion of team members do formal study, with fees ranging from €0 - 300 per semester, depending on whether they are from a developed or developing, EU or non-EU country. Many others attend university or language courses (language courses can cost up to €500 for two months!). Workers raise financial support from groups and friends back home. Team members are helped to find accommodation with families, team mates or students in houses, flats or halls of residence. Average living and ministry costs are €8000 per year, plus transportation to and from Austria.
approx. 8 million
c.192,000 total (32,000 international students)
78% of the population is Roman Catholic, 5% Protestant, and 4.5% has another religion.