On t’a fait connaître, ô homme, ce qui est bien;
Et ce que l’Éternel demande de toi,
C’est que tu pratiques la justice, Que tu aimes la miséricorde,
Et que tu marches humblement avec ton Dieu.
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Probably my favorite part of my three weeks in Springfield was all the time spent with the other Europe people. We had three days of classes/sessions together during Training and two days during Renewal as well as a couple of picnics and other such get-togethers. I got to meet people I will know in the future, not necessarily people I will be directly working with in Belgium, but other new missionaries who will be in Spain and Greece and Wales, and I’ll get to see them at future Europe gatherings. I made some good friends.
The European leadership is making a concerted effort to create a family-like atmosphere of support for all the missionaries. Gone are the days of someone striking out by himself and living alone in a little hut somewhere, to live or die entirely on his own work. New missionaries are given mentors and help in acclimating to their new culture, and there are yearly get-togethers in areas. We don’t have to struggle through our problems alone and are not shamed for facing problems. I love this emphasis on the family of missionaries in Europe.
The world is divided up into regions, each with its own director. Europe is a region (but does not include Eastern Europe, which is part of Eurasia), and its directors are Paul and Angela Trementozzi, who are two of the dearest people I have ever met. Then each region is divided up into areas. Belgium is in the Northwest Europe area. I guess I can’t get away from the Northwest, which is fine with me. My area directors are Tim and Marketa Southerland, whom I didn’t meet until my last week there. There are other people in other areas of leadership while also doing their own ministries in Europe, like a missionary who is working in Romania and is in charge of the outreach to the marginalized of Europe. We got to hear from all of them, learn from them, talk to them, pray with and be prayed for by them, watch soccer/football with them. (I tell you, those Europe missionaries are crazy about their soccer/football.)
I found it splendid to learn about the overall missions strategies for Europe. I tend to like to see the big picture before getting into details, and they provided us the big picture, the DNA of missions in Europe that unifies all the individual ministries that all the individual missionaries are doing. No matter what you’re doing in Europe, it’s hard to not somehow be involved in one (if not all) of these three things: reaching the secularized, touching the marginalized, and revitalizing the European church.
Revitalizing the Church
How will my particular little task, teaching theology in a Bible college, fit into these goals? Well, I will probably be indirectly involved in all of them through my students and the ministries that they go on to do. But the biggest one for me is church revitalization. I will be teaching some of Europe’s future church leaders, helping to create a culture of passionately spiritual theology in their lives. The European church as a whole is so dead and dry, but Continental Theological Seminary is turning out Spirit-filled leaders who won’t let it stay that way. It has always been a deep interest of mine to help people within the church become spiritually, psychologically, and interpersonally whole and strong, to help bring them to theological and emotional maturity. Those people will then go out and plant strong, mature, living churches. Those churches will reach Europe’s marginalized and secularized. I get to play a part in all of them.