The compilers of the “official” report have done an excellent job of summarising the events of the EEA’s 2017 General Assembly. My intention here is not to replicate that piece, but to provide a more “personal” reflection of some the key themes and highlights of the gathering.
- Unity in Diversity
What an honour to journey with 90+ leaders, from 28 nations, 60 different ministries and organisations and many different tongues. Facing many differing local and strategic challenges, these men and women came together to listen, to learn, to share, and lean into God’s heart for Europe. Together, we committed to:
- sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in evangelism to people in all sectors of society across Europe;
- showing the love of Jesus Christ in practical ways to people in need across Europe, not only dealing with symptoms but also addressing the root causes of those problems; and
- serious study of the needs of our neighbours and to leave our comfort zones for the benefit of our neighbours.
- Worshipping Together
In many tongues but with one voice we worshipped the Lamb together. Sung worship was led sensitively and skilfully in each session by Scott and Caitlin Andrews, missionaries serving locally with TEAM in Prague, and helped us focus our thoughts and affections on Jesus in the midst of a busy schedule.
- Rooted in the Word
Rosalee Velloso Ewell led us in 3 eye-opening, soul-stirring expositions of several texts critical to our understanding of our interaction with the world: Genesis’ accounts of Babel and the life of Abram/Abraham and Acts 2 (Pentecost) invited us to consider our sense of identity, security and view of the future; reading the story of the calling of the first disciples in Luke 5 challenged us to reflect on our own welcome of the stranger and the “other” in light of the disciples’ own diversity; and Jonah’s call had us examining our own response to God’s call to go, love and serve our enemies.
In spite of many seeming reasons to the contrary, the assembly maintained a spirit of hope, which was exemplified especially in the guests who shared with us their work in the evenings. Dave Patty from www.josiahventure.com enthused us with testimonies and a practical model for reaching the young people of our nations with the Good News, showing us how the Gospel speaks to their culture; Krish Kandiah from www.homeforgood.org.uk revealed how an understanding of God’s heart for “the widows and orphans” in fostering and adoption, to “set the lonely in families”, helps address some of society’s greatest pressures, and how the church is uniquely placed to step into this space.
As ever, some of the most precious moments were shared outside of the programme, in personal interaction over plates of wonderful food or sipping from glasses of water in the bar after hours. Whilst we represent many organisations from many countries with many different visions & missions, and whilst many of us will be partners in ministry together, fundamentally we are brothers and sisters and these moments allowed us to discover and deepen these bonds. In this the world will know that we are Jesus’ followers. Let us be known for our love.
Written by: Oli Proctor (European Partnerships Manager of Biblica)
*Please find the GA 2017 presentations here.