EBF Mission Conference 2018
EBF Mission Conference 2018
The Christians of 21st century can learn a great deal from the Christ’s disciples of 1st century
The annual EBF Mission Conference took place this year in Sofia, Bulgaria. The motto of this event was "Bold Acts". The representatives of 14 nations were warmly welcomed by Dimitrina and Teodor Oprenov, the co-pastors of Sofia Baptist Church.
The mission workers from Baptist unions in the following countries were present: Austria, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine, USA.
The worship team was provided by the Baptist Union of Austria.
Ian Bunce, the chair of EBF Mission Commission preached during the opening service on the first night of the conference and emphasized: “We, the Christians of 21st century can learn a great deal from the believers of 1st century … the so called Great Commission should be rather named Great Permission, as it inspires the Christians to use opportunities of sharing the gospel. Often God requires from us some supernatural acts which we could not do in our own strength unless being empowered by the Holy Spirit”. He also quoted one of his mentors: “If a vision doesn’t frighten you it may well not be from God….”
The conference elaborated the issues of: bold prophesy, bold prayer, bold preaching and bold acts. Also many bold stories from different corners of today’s Europe were shared by the participants and all activities were encompassed by prayer.
The key note addresses were delivered by Dimitrina Oprenov who explored several aspects of the Acts Story. The fulfilment of Old Testament prophesy had empowered the disciples to such an extent that they were able to face even hardships and persecution. Dimitrina pointed out that we today live in the exactly same historical period and encouraged the Baptist mission workers to be as bold as the predecessors. When the disciples of Christ had been intimidated and frightened at times but the courage filled them during times of corporate prayer. “Their prayer included praise, psalmody and petition, and was concentrated on God who filled them with great courage”, Dimitrina highlighted her talk.
Teodor Oprenov from Bulgaria said in the final session that the book of Acts has not really been finished and we are writing its multiple pages of Acts 29 until today. He also asked the participants for special prayer as the country’s parliament is preparing a new religious law and its draft seemed to be limiting the now existing freedom of Evangelical Christians.
Theo Angelov from Bulgaria, former president and general secretary of the EBF praised the boldness of Christians who lived when the Communist regime ruled the country. He also reminded the fact that this system was at an open war with God and imprisoned Christian leaders (including his own father) as well as the Bible was a forbidden book. “The Communist authorities probably thought that by jailing the leaders they could cause the death of church but didn’t realize that the Head of the Church was still free and resided in Heaven, and spiritually still present with the Church”, said Theo.
Jenni Entrican, the EBF president emphasized the broad activity of EBF which includes the mission work, theological reflection, social ministry and religious freedom. She expressed gratefulness for these effective ministries and pointed out that Christer Dealander from Sweden has been nominated for the 2018 Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award for his effective and longstanding work. EBF is also supporting the refugees who are not only in Europe but also in camps in Turkey. Jenny with particular joy talked about the EBF Transform - productive ministry of training the younger leaders.
Numerous regional stories showed how much and how important work is being done across EBF. The Mission Partnerships supports about 50 church planting projects annually in different nations of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. One of them is in Grodno, Belarus and the church planter Vasily called it a supernatural activity. Tomislav Dubotovic from Bosnia shared that 11 new congregations have been opened in this country during the last 20 years.
The antitrafficking work has a high priority. The Ladies-in-Waiting being based in Strasburg, France concentrate on helping the trafficked women from Easter Europe. The Project Resgate based in Zurich tries to reach the prostitutes from Brazil and has established a network in 12 European countries. The participant from Ukraine shared about the war which divides the nation and asked to pray that it would end before long.
Will Cumbia, an intern at a Baptist Church in Vienna Austria said: “I’m glad to have taken part in this beautiful conference. It was an incredible time to connect with others and to hear how God is moving across the continent. Bravo especially for elevating both women's voices as well as the stories of our brothers and sisters from Eastern Europe.”
The conference participants enjoyed sincere fellowship and warm hospitality of Bulgarian Baptists, and an added value was very tasty coffee from the Christian Coffee Shop run by the First BCh of Sofia. The recipients of scholarships have been very grateful as they would not be able to travel otherwise. The participants from Belarus and Ukraine were deeply appreciative for the translation which was provided into Russian.
What is the conclusion from this conference? It may be summarized in just one sentence: “Christians always need to be bold in persevering, sometimes bold to discontinue and often bold in taking a new step of faith.”
This was the last conference organised by the present EBF Mission Core Group being led by its chair Ian Bunce. A new chair for the next quinquennium will be appointed by EBF in September 2018. And next mission conference on “Arts and Mission” is planned for June 5-8, 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden.