World Mission Should Matter for Every Congregation
R o m e – Every Christian congregation in Europe should be active in world mission, both spiritually and financially. That was the appeal made at the European Baptist Mission (EBM) Council meeting from 16 to 19 April in Rome. World mission should not be regarded as the pet topic of a few specialists. The Brazilian Carlos Waldow (Elstal near Berlin), EBM’s new Consultant for the Promotion of Latin America, stated that in a globalised world the local congregation should also learn to deal responsibly and have ‘a broad horizon’ for mission. One of the issues in particular is the struggle against child poverty. According to Waldow, one-half of Latin America’s children live below the poverty line. Congregations are called to help offer these children options for successful development.
The EBM’s representative for Southern Africa, Fletcher Kaiya (Blantyre/Malawi), noted that God also presents congregations in Africa and Latin America with gifts and abilities enabling them to accept responsibility for mission. Such congregations should not regard themselves as being only the recipients of international support. World mission, when it is discussed and reflected on in the context of the community of the local church, and individual believers also consider themselves responsible for it, strengthens the church worldwide. Kaiya stressed the necessity of supporting existing service and evangelistic ministries with greater commitment, in the hope of making them more capable of existing on their own. The sessions, which counted 69 delegates among a total of 130 participants, took its guiding verse from the New Testament: ‘He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion’ (Philippians 1:6). Representatives from 26 Baptist Unions in Latin America, Africa and Europe ceremonially declared themselves members of EBM. This declaration affirmed that the representatives accepted responsibility to participate actively in EBM’s common task through the delegating of workers and finances.
The European Baptist Federation’s (EBF) General-Secretary, Dr. Tony Peck (Prague), applauded these intentions, stating that he knew of no mission organisation worldwide that worked so constructively between missionaries and indigenous partners, leaders and organisations, than EBM. He attributed this to the efforts of his close friend Hans Guderian (Elstal), the out-going General-Secretary of EBM. Guderian was bade farewell at these sessions. He will end his term as General-Secretary in January 2009, a position in which he has served since 1996.
Pastor Christoph Haus (Elstal), until now head of the German Federation of Evangelical Free-Churches Gemeindejugendwerk (GJW) Youth Programme, was unanimously voted in as Guderian’s successor. Trained as both a banker and theologian, Haus has served as Youth Pastor for the North-West German Baptist Youth Division. He later served in the Centre Technique in Maroua/Cameroun and as a church pastor in Northeim/Germany. He has led the German GJW since 1998.
The conference also involved other staff transitions; farewell was said to a number of long-time activists. Arild Harvik (Oslo), the Norwegian Baptist Union’s administrative head, was elected new EBM-President. Dr. John Sussenbach (Ve Haouten), a council member of the Dutch union, became Vice-President. Also newly-elected to the EBM’s Executive board was: David Boydell, the head of a Christian language school in Massy/France; Janos Papp (Budapest), Mission Secretary for the Hungarian Baptist Union; and Linda Koroma (Freetown), President of the Women’s department of the Baptist Union in Sierra Leone. Dr. Helmut Rabenau (Vienna), who had served as EBM-President for 14 years, has left his position as well as Micael Razzano (Bordeaux/France) and Helene Ramirez-Kaeser (Rome/Italy). Dietrich Weiand, the Consultant for Mission Activities in Latin America (MASA), said farewell after 21 years of service. Guderian, Weiand and Rabenau were awarded “William”, a “Missions Oscar”, as an expression of appreciation for their work. The prize is named after the British missionary William Carey (1761-1834), the founder of modern mission.