In the last week of September I was once again in Brussels, taking part in this year’s student forum organised by the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA) and the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES). My own role this year was (i) to give the opening evening’s Bible exposition, (ii) to lead a session on business integrity, and (iii) to support my project group of seven students who had chosen to develop a national anti-corruption strategy as the imagined government of a fictitious country.
Who are the students at these events? There are typically twenty-five to thirty, mostly in their early to mid-twenties, from around a dozen countries from east to west and north to south of the continent. Their academic subjects may included law, politics, international affairs, economics and more. What they share is that they are committed Christians interested in exploring some form of career in public life and wanting to think “Christianly” about it all.
This year we had morning Bible studies in the life of Daniel from Niek Tramper, the Dutch general secretary of the EEA. These were followed by talks from a wide range of people including European Commission and Parliament officials as well as specialists in such areas as human rights, journalism and economics. We had two visits to the European Parliament, one to be shown around (when the photo above was taken) and the other a 7:30 a.m. Prayer Breakfast hosted by a Christian MEP from Finland. This was followed by an excellent Q&A session with a Belgian diplomat and a US Lieutenant Colonel from NATO facing the questions.
These student forum weeks are regularly among the highlights of my year, and this year was no different. It is stimulating to be surrounded by very bright and very committed young people. As in past years I came back home exhausted and exhilarated in about equal proportions; no, more of the latter.
Please pray for these young people. Many of them come from countries cursed with corruption to an extent difficult to comprehend in our own. They will need immense moral and spiritual strength to stand firm against the many temptations that will be put in their way as they progress in their chosen careers.
Do they have any long-term effect? Well, since then, in late October I’ve been in Romania for a conference on leadership integrity organised by two past attendees, one from 2008 and the other from 2011. More about that later.