Mission Director Steven Bowers began the day by quoting from Omri Jenkins in his history of EMF,‘Five Minutes to Midnight’, reminding those attending of the objectives of EMF and its mission to Europe, and how that original vision was still being pursued. There were two main addresses. Andrew Birch an EMF missionary in Palma (Spain) for 36 years spoke on the theme of the conference. Using four questions he surveyed the scene helpfully, ‘What’s changed’, ‘What about Religion?’, ‘What hasn’t Changed?’ and ‘What’s Needed?’. ‘There is a real danger of losing our nerve! We need to do what is right, biblical and leave the outcome in the Lord’s sovereign hands. We are up against an almost total ignorance of real Christianity, of Jesus himself. Our great encouragement is the immutability of our triune God. He can turn dead bones into living worshippers of the Living God!’
There was a plenary panel session chaired by Steven Bowers,with Matt Hill (Spain), Xavi Patiño (Spain), Sándor Kelemen (Romania) and, by video link, Leonidas Kollaros (Greece) and Vitalii Mariash (Ukraine). The discussion focused on the challenges in evangelism in today’s Europe, confronting Catholicism, Orthodoxy and, of course, secular humanism and general indifference. There are many parallels with our situation here in the United Kingdom.
There were also smaller panel sessions with three groups of missionaries all working in different parts of Europe. These provided a real opportunity for those attending to engage in close discussion with the missionaries. Despite the many challenges there are great opportunities on this needy continent (our continent!) of Europe.
At the close Pastor Robert Strivens of Bradford-on-Avon preached on Hebrews 13:7-8. The Hebrews lived in a time of unsettling time of change. The greatest need is perseverance in Christ who does not change. There are three important aspects: persevere in submission to Christ’s unchanging teaching; we must continue in Christ’s unchanging commands in a godly life, and we are to continue in submitting to the unchanging person of Jesus Christ.
Along with a useful bookstall and an enjoyable lunch provided by our hosts Welwyn Evangelical Church, a great day was had by all.
Most of the conference is available now on Youtube – European Missionary Fellowship.