EEA Newsletter September 2013

Thomas BucherHow representing works

Every now and then we are asked how the EEA represents its members? How is it possible with the little resources at hand to make an impact? Should we not just get on with our work in each church, in each denomination and in each organisation and where in place in the Evangelical Alliance on a national level? By the way, for some there is even a question how effective a national Alliance can be. The following report was submitted and discussed at the European Religious Liberty Forum (ERLF), organised and co-chaired by EEA: ERLF 2012 Italy Report“, by Stefano Bogliolo, Italian Evangelical Alliance, 12/3/12.

The closing of places of worship

In one region only (Lombardia: Pavia, Bergamo, Palazzolo, Carnate) we have received news of the closing of 16 places of worship of various Evangelical groups, most of which are migrant churches (Brazilians, various Africans, Romanians). The first happened in August 2011 and the last one happened last week. City council police goes to these places because of:
  • Noise (acoustic pollution)
  • Complaining of nearby people
  • Road traffic issues (problems with parking)
Then they check the status of the building and discover that it is not registered as a place for worship but as shops, warehouse, garage, etc. So they come back with an ordinance of the city council that closes them. Generally, these city councils are ruled by the Lega Party, which tends to be against the presence of foreigners. So they are generally hostile to their presence. They apply a regional law (law n. 12/2005) which was motivated by the resistance towards the presence of Muslim places for prayer.” You can find the whole report by following this link.

New EU Guidelines on Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief

“The European Evangelical Alliance welcomes the adoption of the EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief on Monday 24 June.” That’s how the news release started which was sent out by the EEA following this important event. You can read up on it here and you can find out what a significant role our EEA representative in Brussels, Christel Ngnambi, played in this. Most recently, these EU guidelines were the foundation of discussions at an important conference at the European Parliament, organised by the European Christian Political Foundation,on EU foreign affairs policy and the rights of converts. The EU guidelines make a clear statement on the right of conversion, and it is now important to ensure that the EU works to defend this right.

How to tie it together?

When pressure is put on groups which are disliked for some reason or another it is first expressed through applying certain communal laws. This is done quite randomly because you will find similar cases which are not on the radar of the public authorities which get away with the same offence. The only way to change such a situation is to make it public and make it a case on both a national and on a European level. It also helps to see where patterns are appearing and reflect on why. E.g. when the Italian report was being discussed at ERLF, we heard of similar problems from the French and Spanish Evangelical Alliances.  Alerting the Christian religious liberty community at ERLF and joint reflecting on a wise response, or influence taking place at European political institutions or courts  or in the parliament of another European country will tend to get corrective action going on a national and ultimately on a local level. The national EAs and the EEA do have connections to make this happen. However, they need to know cases to do so (the quicker the better) so let’s keep communicating! Having these very clear EU guidelines on freedom of religion in place which were shaped significantly by the EEA as well will make a difference across the world. They were signed by all ministers of foreign affairs of the EU member states. We now need to ensure that the guidelines are applied. Being close to the ground is a mark and strength of the Christian church in Europe. However, it is equally important to be represented on regional, national and European level and make use of the unique opportunity on each level. We CAN make a difference as you can clearly notice through these lines. Therefore let us make sure that we do strengthen each other on each level in order to maximise the outcome for God’s kingdom. Freedom of religion is of vital interest to us as we want to make sure we follow the words of Jesus: As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work (John 9,4). Praying and working for God’s kingdom to grow in Europe and beyond Yours thomas signature Thomas Bucher Interim General Secretary PS By the way: The EEA General Assembly will taking place in early October. I hope to see many of you there.The theme is Europe – Work in Progress or Doomsday. Click here to learn more about the practical details. It would be great if you could be registering quickly for this conference as this would help us in the final planning. You can do so by clicking on this link right way: http://www.ea.nl/registration-ga.  

Preparing the next generation

by Julia Doxat-Purser As ever, IFES gathered an amazing group of young graduates at their Bible & Culture summer school this year.  This 4 week course prepares participants for being Christ’s ambassadors in the world, equipped with solid Bible teaching and the ability to apply the Bible to life.  As the website puts it, “We have a real responsibility to live out and teach the good news that humans can be reconciled to God, and we have a responsibility to practice being God’s righteousness on earth. Christians should – by God’s grace alone – be a force for good within God’s planet, because this is part of our Gospel witness.” I had the privilege of providing the teaching on political engagement to IFES staff, a physiotherapist, doctor, architect, businessman and diplomat.  A highlight of the week was when we went to the Bundestag.  Frank Heinrich MP (formerly with the Salvation Army and German Evangelical Alliance) amazed us with his testimony.  He had never imagined becoming a politician, but the doors opened and he now has amazing opportunities to speak up on issues like human trafficking and development aid.  One of the most striking things he said was “Don’t call politics a lions’ den.  Politicians are not lions.  The vast majority of them want to do good.  Pray for them.” The politics week ended with the course participants designing their own sept TV B&C 2013 34campaigns.  One group chose to engage Arts students in creating a huge mobile phone to be displayed in the centre of Berlin (at least in theory!) with key words on it pointing out the exploitation that is hidden within it because of minerals coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Do encourage young people to attend Bible & Culture next year.  www.bibleandculture.org

In the heart of Rome

to touch the heart of Egypt…

..a prayer rally in front of the Embassy of Egypt in Rome. After the recent outbreak of violence against the Christians in Egypt, the Italian Evangelical Alliance organized a prayer rally in front of the Embassy of Egypt in Rome. On August 24th, dozens of people representing several Evangelical Churches of the city gathered to pray for peace in the country and for protection for the Christian minority. Recent reports from Egypt were read together with biblical passages assuring that God is in control and cares for His people.

sept handshakeA letter to the Ambassador was signed by the participants expressing concern for the dangerous situation which the Christians find themselves in and the hope that action will be taken to secure protection and religious freedom for all. On August 26th, the Italian EA’s vice-president, Leonardo De Chirico, personally handed the letter to the Consul in Rome, Mr Osman Magdy, saying that the Evangelical people of Italy stand in prayer for Egypt and is particularly near to the Egyptian Christians. The Consul thanked for the interest shown and assured that the Egyptian government will work hard to protect all its citizens no matter their religion.

August 26th, 2013 www.alleanzaevangelica.org

Five months to go for 3rd

Mission-Net-Congress

in Offenburg, Germany

We are very excited about congress developments but even more about country developments. As part of a movement we dream of God bringing leaders together and on national levels to encourage missional lifestyle and discipleship. We are utterly grateful that France has postponed their bi-annual youth conference “Mad in France”, so we are no longer in a time collision. As a result of 2 Turkish brothers and an accompanying missionary attending the last congress, they developed their dream and will have their first nationwide youth leaders´ camp in Turkey  in October. General Assembly & Board – end of June We are very thankful for a motivated group of people supporting and monitoring Mission-Net either as Board Members or Members of the Association. Ivo Konstantinov within his work contract with the Government of Bulgaria was assigned to the USA and had to resign from the Board and the Association. We were very happy to accept Erion Prendi, a gifted and motivated person from Albania as a member and to vote him in as a Board Member. We were very much encouraged listening to – and discussing certain issues of – the reports by Evi Rodemann and other key people. Martin Vogler (Finances), Jens Zurmühl (Operations), James Price (Movement) are growing together as the Executive Team under the leadership of Evi. It is a big jump forward in our structural development. On the other side, we repeatedly experience the challenge of working mainly with volunteers. Deeply convicted of this philosophy we also need to accept its limits – and even the fact some had to resign because it was just too much to bear in addition to their job and/or studies. Nevertheless, Mission-Net is gaining momentum and more and more organisations / movements are eagerly interested, to be or become part of our movement. Also the programme for our next congress “Work in progress” is already well on track. So far between 60 and 70 exhibitors have registered. This is great – but we hope for at least 100. Some organisations have put their efforts together for synergy-reasons. That’s great, of course. Others, especially smaller national agencies find it difficult to cope with the European-wide audience. Or they look sceptically at the “return on investment” in terms of recruitment. The GA was discussing this also on the basis of a survey done at Mission-Net 2011/12 in Erfurt. We decided to publish  some of those findings to you with a short introduction which reflects what the GA was sharing. Conclusions . Leaders – pay special attention to the “Theological Leaders Track”! AfeM – an association of missiological leaders in Germany under the leadership of Thomas Schirrmacher – will integrate their annual conference into Mission-Net! Working Title: “Missional Concepts for European ContextsA reminder for you: You are ALL welcome to join the Council of Reference. During the next congress we will give an opportunity to meet, get to know each other, share and receiveinformation from “behind the scenes”.  A description is included in the Mission-Net-Manifesto”-  here you will find the basic Mission-Net-philosophy and a reflection on how we define and like to promote “missional lifestyle”.  This is available in 4 languages! Subscribe to Council of References application Support through work hours or / and finances There is still an opportunity to get involved (Job Opportunities ). And it is also still possible to support some of the workers who depend on a part-time financial support in order to work for Mission-Net. So far ONE organisation who intended to release somebody part time for Mission-Net and it did not work out, decided to spend the equivalent amount in fundingin order to help us to invest in another person who now does this work. GREAT encouragement!! You may donate with the remark “work hours” – or you can get more detailed information about our needs through Evi ([email protected] mission-net.org) We feel privileged to share in the “fight of faith” – together with you. Thanks to the love of Christ in us – flowing through us into this world; into my family, working place, country, Europe and to the remotest areas of our world. God bless you! Martin Voegelin and Evi Rodemann Click on the below link for more resources:  

Causing Harm?

A resolution will be debated by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) at the end of September on “Children’s right to physical integrity”. The basic point the text makes is that society must protect the best interest of the child by working to stop physical procedures on a child’s body, even well intentioned ones.  What’s wrong with that?  Nothing when we are talking about outlawing female genital mutilation.  But there is a huge problem if PACE votes to ask governments to consider dissuading and even preventing Jewish or Muslim families from circumcising their boys. The rapporteur, Ms Marlene Rupprecht, is a well-known children’s advocate in Germany, and had been involved in the controversial male circumcision debates in Germany in 2012.  She is open in her total opposition to male circumcision, stating in the resolution’s explanatory memorandum that a family’s freedom of religion or right to private life are outweighed by the human rights of the child.  The resolution says that a balance must be found between the rights and best interest of the child and the rights of the parents but the text is clearly pushing nations towards questioning whether male circumcision should be allowed at all since it is a violation of a child’s physical integrity. Male circumcision is a non-negotiable part of faith for many.  As long as it is performed under hygienic and safe conditions, then surely freedom of conscience should prevail.  Non-believers may not be able to understand quite how precious male circumcision is to most Jews and Muslims. The fact that society may not understand does not give it the right to interfere. Freedom of conscience for all must be respected. Ms Rupprecht categorises procedures like male circumcision as harm caused for “entirely positive intentions.” It seems to me that her desire to protect children’s physical integrity through this resolution would end up causing great harm, albeit for entirely positive intentions. (AFP/File, Menahem Kahana)

The Draft Resolution can be found here

(This article first appeared on EEA’s socio-political team’s blog.Do choose to “follow” the blog &/or to look out for new entries mentioned on the “Friends of EEA” Facebook page).

Europe:

Work in Progress or Doomsday?

The theme for the EEA General Assembly 2013… We see things happening in Europe and together we wonder what we can do, how we can help, seize opportunity or just wait. The GA program is designed to learn from the Bible and each other around the above theme. Key speakers are: Jim Memory (leader in Mission studies and church planting), Jeff Fountain (director of Schuman Centre for European Studies), Jan Wessels (Gen Sec of Dutch Evangelical Alliance). Find out more about the program here.
As we consider the many crises Europe faces, we will not be doing so in a negative way, for the Lord can use crises as Gospel opportunities if we are willing to work with Him.  We will have opportunities to pray and consider what the role of EEA members can be in the face of the challenges around us and to share good practice examples.  Come both ready to share and ready to hear what God is preparing for each of us to do. We look forward to many inspiring and encouraging moments at the GA. GA Preparation Team  

Training courses

to reach Muslims in your country

Wouldn’t it be great when each Muslim in your country will have an opportunity to hear and see the Good News of Jesus Christ from a Christian friend? I would like to bring two training courses to your attention that is designed to do just that: a) Sharing Lives; b) Approaches to Islam   Both courses can be offered in your country to Churches and Christians. The course Sharing Lives is developed for ordinary Christians in local churches. The course Approaches to Islam is developed more for missionary candidates preparing for ministry among Muslims and can be offered during candidate schools  at Bible colleges and theological seminaries. Sharing Lives is developed to help Christians look at their view of Muslims and encourage them to begin to share their lives (and in this context also the Gospel) with the Muslims that cross their paths. The course intends to encourage Christians to share their lives with Muslims in five lessons: 1. Our view of Islam; 2. Developing an attitude of grace towards Muslims; 3. Understanding Muslims; 4. Meeting with Muslims; 5. Building relationships that last.  In these five lessons, which includes a visit to a local mosque, participants will look at their own hearts, reflect on their attitude towards Muslims in the light of the Bible, learn about basic elements of the Islamic faith, and how to befriend Muslims. The course is designed for ordinary local Christians and will be given by localChristians that have attended the Sharing Lives’ Trainers conference. If there are not enough trained course leaders in the area/country a new trainer’s conference can be organized. The course is available in French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, German, English, Romanian, Finnish, Russian and Dutch and other languages are being pursued. For more information, see the website: www.sharinglives.eu The course Approaches to Islam explores the dynamic and complex interaction between the Christians and Muslims since the 7th century. It highlights the various responses of Christians towards Islam and Muslims. Different approaches and forms of ministry will be examined  to enable the student to adopt an approach to Islam and to Muslims in Europe that is consistent both to the spirit and truth of God found in the Bible. The course is taught in English. The course requires 30 hours of class and at least 60 hours for reading course materials and  carrying out assignments. People that would benefit most from the course would be missionary candidates who are preparing for ministry among Muslims in Europe and beyond. The course assumes a basic knowledge of Islam and some prior contact with Muslims. For more information, you can get in touch with me. Dr. Bert de Ruiter – EEA Associate Staff Christian-Muslim Relations in Europe  

 Youth Ministries

Surely there has never been such a passion among European youth workers to pray, think and work in strategic partnership. Practically every week for the next few months something somewhere is going on.
  • Senior Dutch and Belgian leaders are meeting for reviews of their national youth ministry and exploring national and continental partnerships.
  • One Hope is gathering national leaders from across the Balkans.
  • European Youth Discipleship and mentoring specialists meet in the UK, Romania and the Netherlands.
  • Italian leaders meet for training with input from Austria and the UK.
Add to that the ongoing preparations for youth and children’s ministry training at Mission-net, meetings at the GA, working groups on asset mapping youth ministry in places as diverse as Northern Ireland and the Faroes, representation at a youth ministry consultation for the Middle East and North Africa and participating in a thorough review of global youth ministry for the WEA General Assembly, and you get the gist!! We don’t want anyone to miss out though! So if you are at the GA and want to chat about your nation or area of interest, please do let Colin Piper know. The challenges facing reaching and discipling this generation for Christ are great but our Father is greater! Colin Piper World Evangelical Alliance Youth Comm Chair European – EA Youth adviser – International Christian Youthworks Director – colindpiper @pipercolin  

EFN Partners Meeting

Are you concerned about people who are vulnerable and exploited for sexual services and labour in your country?   The EEA is helping national Alliances to respond, through the European Freedom Network (EFN)!

EFN partners will be meeting in Cyprus from November 18-22 to strengthen their skills in building national networks, doing advocacy, finding funding, identifying and implementing good practice in ministry, and more.   The conference is open to current partners AND to interested people representing a national Evangelical Alliance.  If you would like to send a representative, let us know!  Registration details (and further information) are available at  www.europeanfreedomnetwork.org

The European Freedom Network continues to grow in size and impact.  Over 120 partner agencies, NGOs, ministries, and individuals are now connected across 29 countries in Europe to build a bridge to freedom for those who are exploited.

For more information contact Jennifer Roemhildt Tunehag or Julia Doxat-Purser

 Calenderagenda

  • EEA General Assembly 7-11 October 2013, Stadskanaal, The Netherlands. Want to know more? Click here!
  • 4/14 Global Summit, 15-18 October 2013, Bangkok, Thailand
  • EFN partners meeting, 15-18 November 2013, Cyprus, see atricle in newsletter
  • Mission-Net congress 28 December 2013 – 2 January 2014, Offenburg Germany

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