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.
Don’t forget this. It will be very special.
Gordon Eggleston from Backbarrow will be showing and talking about a film that he has been involved in producing on a Christian initiative to reach out to people caught up in the drug culture of Manchester.
6:30 pm, Friday, October 26th.
Sunday, 7th October, is the day when we especially focus on thanking God for His provision in so many ways – the agricultural harvest, yes, but also a thousand and one ways in which He blesses us.
In a mechanistic age it is very easy to forget that, whatever the visible source of good things, ultimately God is the giver of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:16-18).
Our Sunday morning speaker at the Family Time will be Mr. David Metcalf, of Keswick; and in the evening our own Mr. John Heron.
All are welcome on both occasions.
As a church we have many past blessings for which to thank God. In recent months people have told us of their turning to faith in Christ for salvation, and we’ve also enjoyed encouraging times such as last weekend’s emphasis on the Bible and the work of the Gideons. However, we must not stand still and at a recent meeting of the church oversight team a variety of plans for the future were discussed.
Please do note the following.
Sunday Evening Bible Teaching
The programme for the remainder of 2012 (God willing) is almost complete. There are some changes from the previous list. See the updated list here.
Thursday Evening Meetings
There are several points to mention here:
- We are continuing with our studies in Luke’s Gospel. The passages and the people responsible for introducing the studies are listed for most weeks to the year end.
- We are concerned at the relative lack of attention that we as a church have recently been giving to collective prayer. If it is to thrive a church must be characterised by prayerfulness. To commence addressing this we have decided to change the emphasis of the meeting on the first Thursday evening of each month.
- Some time ago we said that we would periodically have communion (Breaking of Bread) on Thursday evenings in addition to Sunday mornings, especially to help those who find it difficult to be with us at 10:15 am on Sunday.
- Combining these two points we now plan for the first Thursday evening of each month to be given over to prayer, followed by Communion.
Following on several supper evenings earlier in the year we hope to pick up the programme as the days shorten and the nights draw in. Tentatively we are looking at three Fridays: September 28th, October 26th and November 23rd. Watch out for confirmation (or changes) and details.
In closing, it just occurred to me that much of the above fits with verses we were considering this past Sunday morning in looking at the example given us by the very first Christians following Peter’s preaching as recorded in Acts 2:
“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
Acts 2:41-42 (NIV)
In recent weeks some of our members have been working hard on a project of transformation. Many thanks to everyone involved.
The first photo shows what we used to see when we came to services, or were simply walking past on the way to Frank’s Bridge over the River Eden for an afternoon walk.
The second photo was taken yesterday. I’m sure you’ll think it quite an improvement … and the work continues on other parts of the building.
Of course a church’s building, although it is important to keep it in good order insofar as we are able, is not the principal thing.
The Bible says that God “does not live in temples made with hands.” As Christians we should remember that collectively we are the “living stones” of God’s spiritual building. Also, the apostle Paul reminds Christians individually: “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. … You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honour God with your body.” [1 Corinthians 6:19,20; NIV] That is a big challenge in our contemporary world.