Something to take back home from the IBCM Network Europe Conference, by Aida Bitri, IBCM Netowork Youth Ambassador

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; your glory be over all the earth.

(Psalm 57:11)

How beautiful it is when brothers and sisters come together to give glory to God. How beautiful is to see humble servants working for the Kingdom. A glimpse of what heaven will be with people worshiping and adoring the Father and the Lord Jesus was captured during the IBCM Network Europe Conference.

Albania for the first time hosted the IBCM Network Europe Conference. This was a significative event for a country that where only 30 years ago it was illegal to believe and worship God. This was a unique experience for Christians in Albania to meet and engage with other Christians in Europe. God reminded us that we are not alone.

To meet with brothers and sisters from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds and to feel that we are one in the mission is something that only the Spirit of God can do. Sometimes being too engaged in everyday activities, might easily make us lose focus. But during this week, the Lord showed us the wonderful reality we live in and the wonderful privilege we have to serve Him. His good work continues despite what our eyes might see. His plans are still there, continuously being implemented, and the His followers are contributing to building His Church and as a good perfume, their deeds are spread everywhere. 

More than 170 people participated from 31 countries and 30 workshops were held. Evening sections were stored for encouragement as the Western Balkan countries gave an encouraging update on the work of the Lord in their countries. In small countries such as Bosnia-Hercegovina and Montenegro, the work is growing and in Kosovo faithful believers are labouring in the difficult territory to share the Gospel. In Croatia, Serbia, and Albania the good work continues. Two things to be encouraged from Poland, sharing the Gospel in the middle of the war in Ukraine, and loving the Ukrainians by helping and serving them in this challenging situation; working with the younger generation, and involving young people in the ministry.  In Italy, brothers and sisters are helping immigrants and that is a new mission field.

The conference topic was “Passion for the Kingdom, Inspiring and Envisioning for Renewed Motivation for the Kingdom”. Many discussions were made about works of and working for the Kingdom. The main sessions were focused on understanding the needs, the importance of the mission, and the role of Christians. Among other things I would like to highlight the following:

The wonderful mission of the Church

The primary mission of the Church is to make the Lord Jesus known to the world so that we all can come to know and serve Him. But is mission still necessary in our times? According to Joshua Project, Europe has 2.8% of its population believers, Africa 16%, South America 18.6%, and Asia including India 3.2%.

Even though it was our rebellion that led to the rejection from God’s presence, still, in His mercy, our Lord continues to call us. In grace, He works for the new world where the ones that follow the Lord will live, enjoy His presence, and worship Him. In his salvation plan, God commands us to continue and do his work. Jesus says ‘So, I tell you to go and make disciples of all nations…’ Mathew 28:19.

God has sent the Lord Jesus to save the world and Jesus has sent us to share the good news. Through our obedience, we honour God in His wonderful salvation plan. Our work will bless others, peoples from of all the nations.

At the heart of the mission is the proclamation of the gospel. Jesus is the good news, and the mission means to share the good news. We should be careful to obey the command Jesus calls us.  The mission’s goal is God’s universal worship, and He will continue His plan despite His reluctant servants. But for the faithful let’s not forget that; …And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mathew 28:19).

The Zeitgeists[1] of this world and the indestructible Kingdom.

In a world where Jesus is not acknowledged as King, chaos will be the order of the day. Continuous pressure is done on the Church to leave behind, forget and transform its mission and vision from worshiping God to working for this world.  As in Daniel’s vision (Daniel 7), Zeitgeists of this world will come out of the sea to create chaos in this fallen world and trouble believers.

Today’s secularism tries to deny and silence any voice that shares God’s view of this world. Wars, financial crises, and other “beasts” shift the focus from the Kingdom of God and the King’s promises to any other form of comfort and prosperity. When confusion, disbelief, and fear enter, and trouble comes the followers of Christ should not forget that our Jesus calms the storm.

Our Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever (Psalm 29:10). We are called to be the light in a fallen world. We are disciples of the King; we are his ambassadors, and citizens of the Kingdom. Our Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. We should take heart. God calls us to enjoy heaven in a fallen world because Jesus reigns over an indestructible Kingdom and the Kingdom is already established in this world.

How to love the people of this fallen world? Praying for them and trying to connect with them.

The mission is to put love where love is not. Just as God so loved the world that He gave His only Son… (John 3:16) we are sent into this world to be a loving sign of this relational restoration that we call it gospel. We are called to be love on the move for God. 

As it is written in James 1:27, the true religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble…  God calls us to love in deeds. The church should be ready to understand the needs of the community and love them by serving them. The traditional view of sending someone far from the church poses a great opportunity for the church to reach the unreachable but at the same time comes with extreme costs in terms of time, sacrifice, and finance. Today’s immigration crisis has opened a new window for local churches. It is a wonderful service and mission field to love in action and to share the love in action, the gospel.  By loving and serving the ones in need we can show the love of God.

As Nehemia, our hearts should be broken with God’s things (Nehemia 1:1-2). Paul encourages us in Acts 20:35 to work hard and help the weak because as Jesus himself has said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

The young are brave and the old are wise.

Involving young people in their local churches was one of the hot topics on and off paper during the conference. In today’s world, where the youth and the next generation are lost in the superficial world that social networks present, it is of high importance a strategic approach towards them. Inside the church the struggle is real. Involving and engaging the next generation in the church’s mission is the challenge many church leaders face. The lack of proper communication between the old and the new can be misleading. In the Bible we find: The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their grey hair (Proverbs 20:29). Youth strength joined with the wisdom of elder people can be the key to a successful mission strategy.

The church should have a clear strategy on how to engage the youth and how to find the proper communication language between generations. Discovering global and local youth needs can give a new perspective on how to reach the young generation and how to use the same generation.

From organizers point of view, many people participated and were hearten in this conference. The IBCM Network will continue to support and encourage similar activities that boost unity among Brethren churches.  Till next time, may we serve the Lord by loving others and sharing Jesus with them

[1] Zeitgeists (from German) means the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.