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EMF is 65!

22/3/2024

EMF is 65! The Scottish evangelist James Stewart must have been amazed and humbled when the Lord abundantly blessed his evangelistic efforts in many European countries last century. Could he have foreseen that the UK branch of his mission organisation would still be operating today, with over 100 workers in 20 countries? We asked a small selection of older ‘EMF-ers’ to share a few of their memories of these six and a half decades… How good is the God we adore!

Avril and Paul Bassett

Avril Bassett, as the daughter of Omri Jenkins, EMF’s first director, was brought up in the mission home, once located in Watford, England.

Living in the EMF mission home was a privilege that has always been with me. James Stewart and family were constantly visiting the home, and we cared for their children numerous times. Meeting missionaries from the USA and UK en route to Europe was a truly blessed experience for a teenager!

The mission's headquarters in Watford until 1981
Students, teachers and staff (circa 1973) at the Watford headquarters of EMF

Avril’s husband, Paul Bassett (in the above picture, back row, second from right), who was a lecturer at the EMF school, and a member of the EMF Committee (now known as Board of Trustees), adds:

After training for the ministry, one of the great joys I had was to be involved in the EMF theological training college. What a privilege it was to train pastors for the work in Europe. I spent many happy years lecturing at Welwyn. It’s so encouraging to see how the Lord is using the mission today in reaching the millions in Europe.  

Josefa de Rodríguez

Josefa de Rodriguez (Spain) and her late husband Pepe joined EMF way back in the 1960s. Having been introduced to the mission by Herbie Mateer, the then N. Ireland EMF Representative, Pepe and Josefa had financial help from EMF when evangelical churches could not support a pastor, enabling them to work hard for the gospel during the spiritually barren and hostile years of the Franco dictatorship.  Josefa still attends prayer meetings and EMF retiree meetings with great joy, and confesses with gratitude:

EMF has been our emotional support, a reference point.

Luis Cano and his wife Pilar Herrera

Luis Cano, along with his wife Pilar Herrera, have been with the mission for around 40 years. Now pastoring a church in the couple’s home town (Ciudad Real, Spain), Luis expresses his thankfulness:

Ever since my conversion and then the beginning of my ministry, the mission has been a blessing, and a much-needed resource for small churches like mine, as well as for my calling to take part in the spread of the gospel.

Pilar joins other EMF colleagues in pointing to EMF’s being a ‘family’:


For me, the mission has been, and still is, like belonging to one big family where you find not only financial help, but also spiritual support. It’s having a host of people behind you, praying, holding you up, being concerned for you as people, and also as labourers in the Lord’s work.

Michael and Ariëtte Robinson


In similar vein, Michael Robinson (De Panne, Belgium), knows what it is to feel very ‘alone’ in a land where gospel churches are few and far between, so this is a heartfelt comment from him and his wife Ariëtte:


We love our EMF family - a fellowship of caring, dedicated, and supportive followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Violet Nussbaumer

Our most senior living missionary, at 92 years old, is Violet Nussbaumer (Mulhouse, France), who became an EMF member when she was still single, as Violet Ridley. She agrees with Pilar and Michael in seeing EMF as a family:

Having joined ‘The Mission’ * in Oct 1957, sent first of all to Scotland, then in July 1958 to eastern France and still, in 2024, in contact with ‘my mission,’ as I refer to it in conversation, I can say: we were members of one big family – and had leaders who guided and directed us, who visited us in our situations and to whom we could turn (and did) for advice, encouragement and help. They came alongside us. In my heart I’m still an ‘EMF-er'.

Zbigniew and Elżbieta Modnicki


In Poland’s second-largest city, Łodz, Zbigniew and Elżbieta Modnicki are still active in gospel work, though they retired 14 years ago! In her expressions of gratitude to EMF staff and supporters, Elżbieta, who has translated many great Christian books into Polish, tells us she loved the godly people they used to meet on deputation all over the UK, and enthuses:

We would say that EMF made our life!  We joined EMF in 1984, but even before that we were in touch with Omri Jenkins, who preached in our congregation. He encouraged my husband to become a full-time missionary. Our children stopped complaining that their father is either at work or in church. It may seem a minor aspect of this decision, but it wasn't. For all these years EMF has been providing us with various sorts of support, such as financial, emotional (during the most difficult situations)and spiritual.


Joan and Jack Milner


EMF is nothing without its faithful supporters. Some of these, like Joan and Jack Milner (Shepshed, England), have been around ‘from the beginning’, as Jack explains.

 I first met Mr Jenkins around 1959 when he came to our church in Stockton-on-Tees to do a missionary meeting at the midweek with Violet Ridley, and to preach on the Lord’s Day. I was very impressed with the Calvinistic emphasis, and Joan and I have been supporters ever since. Mr Jenkins became a good friend and always kept in touch. For example, when we lived in Scotland, he arranged to meet us in Glasgow Station between trains for an hour or so together! He was very kind to us and we found him very helpful.

Rosemary and Michael Grant


Omri Jenkins was indeed a major driving force under God for the good of the gospel in Europe. Rosemary Grant experienced this at first hand alongside her husband Michael (who went Home just over a year ago), in Waterford, Ireland, where they served for decades.

Omri Jenkins, first director of EMF, and author of 'Five Minutes to Midnight'

Memories... Mr Jenkins (never ‘Omri’!) saying to Mike as we left for Waterford... 'there has never been blessing in Waterford, for years. Don’t expect any, just because you are going there', and Mrs Jenkins (never ‘Dorothy’!): ‘Rosemary, your children are your greatest mission field. Never forget that.’  Wise council from a couple who were like parents in EMF, constantly supporting us, encouraging us, praying for us, holding the reins of EMF so to speak, steering us in the right direction of good Biblical doctrines, exhorting us to constantly 'see what the Scriptures say.'
Irene and Leonidas Kollaros

Leonidas and Irene Kollaros have told us how much they owe EMF, and they have a very special reason to be grateful, as explained by Leonidas:

Our association with the EMF began over 40 years ago, with my theological training in England and Irene's attendance at EMF house parties in Bournemouth and the Isle of Bute, where we met. So it was EMF that brought us together, and it has been a constant source of encouragement, blessing and support over the years; consequently, we never felt alone in the work in Greece, and consider the EMF part of our family. 

THEN AND NOW PHOTOGRAPHS!

João Nunes and his wife Celeste when they studied in Watford
João and Celeste last year (Celeste can no longer go out, as she is bed-ridden)

João Nunes and his wife Celeste trained in the mission headquarters in Watford; they celebrated 60 years of marriage some months ago. João describes their experience with EMF:

Well, just 50 years ago, for me and for Celeste, EMF was a means of encouragement, teaching, and counselling; that has continued over these 50 years, in the good and in the bad moments (we have had some of the latter) of our ministry. We thank God for the people He has used to help and sustain us throughout all these years.

65 years of precious memories. 65 years of God’s mercies, enabling hundreds of workers to reach thousands of European people with the gospel.  


EMFers have long loved to sing this song at our get-togethers. It is our testimony. It is our delight.

How good is the God we adore,
our faithful, unchangeable friend;
whose love is as great as his power,
and neither knows measure nor end.
 
’Tis Jesus, the first and the last,
whose Spirit shall guide us safe home;
we’ll praise Him for all that is past,
and trust him for all that’s to come.



You can read more about the history of European Mission Fellowship in the book
'Five Minutes to Midnight'

* (then as part of the European Evangelistic Crusade)

There are recordings of the late James Stewart
here

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Prayer Points

Praise God for

  • his faithfulness over 65 years
  • ongoing provision for the needs of the mission
  • the workers who have given the best of their lives in the service of the gospel

Pray

  • that the Lord will raise up many more missionaries for the harvest fields of Europe
  • that there will be abundant provision for gospel work
  • that the gospel may spread its roots deeper and deeper into the Balkans and the Nordics