First European Lay Mission Congress

First European Lay Mission Congress

SDA-Church President Wilson during his sermon in Bobbio Pellice.

Bobbio Pellice, September 5, 2012. [CD-EUDNews]. The first European Lay Mission Congress started on Thursday 30 August 2012 in the beautiful Valdensian Valley. More than 350 participants (on Sabbath almost 450) came from different European countries t

September 10, 2012

Bobbio Pellice, September 5, 2012. [CD-EUDNews]. The first European Lay Mission Congress started on Thursday 30 August 2012 in the beautiful Valdensian Valley. More than 350 participants (on Sabbath almost 450) came from different European countries to attend the congress and share their passion for evangelism. “The main goal of this event is to share testimonies on evangelism experienced by lay people in their local country,” said Paolo Benini, Personal Ministries’ director at the Euro-Africa Division and organizer of the event.

Most of the time, lay people are invited to attend training courses or follow workshops to learn methods and receive instructions on how to be missionaries. But this event was to be different. In place of teachers and speakers, “professional” lay people shared their passion for God. It was simply awesome. Right at the beginning, Pastor Ted Wilson, head of the Seventh-day Adventist church worldwide, opened the congress and invited the participants to consider anew their privilege to bring the Bible to the world.

Each country was introduced by a report which presented their major programs and projects supported by the church members.

Once again we could see the creativity in our church, ready to “invent” new outreach means to face the postmodern demands.

It was a real challenge for the organizers to share their presentations and express their enthusiasm each within the limit of 3 minutes. “This presentation was long, but inspiring,” said a participant “I will go home with a lot of ideas and with the help of God I will be able to put some of them to use.” This was the main goal of the Congress: give an opportunity to acquire inspiration and ideas from other brethren that are using different outreach methods.

Here are some of the comments:

Gabriele Taddei, a youth participant said: “The lay people’s testimonies have been uplifting and inspiring; it’s encouraging to see how God is working through His people all around Europe. Sharing our experiences gave us the opportunity not only to know what is happening in other countries but also to get new ideas for evangelism. I saw people reaching others through “free” hugs and prayers in the streets, or through a simple ruler with the writing “God is our measure”. I heard a pastor who gives hugs to all the visitors and members in his churches, and a church that prays together every single day at 7:00 am and 7:00 pm; I heard that thousands of people are being moved by the Spirit through the message of creation.”

The only “professional” presenter to the Congress was Gary Krause, Adventist Mission Director. He presented a Church Planting report and a Global Mission overview. In one of his presentations “he showed a clip about a couple from Atlanta with three children who moved to a dangerous neighbourhood of the city. They used Jesus’ method of reaching the people, mingling with them and ministering to their needs; the missionary’s words really moved me” said Gabriele Taddei. “How powerful is the example of an unselfish life!”

Debate between Church leaders

For two days, a series of workshops was presented with a new setting. Led by a moderator, all the participants had the possibility to share their experiences in a specific area. Workshop themes were diverse, to cover all the needs and help to improve specific outreach methods. Many topics inspired the participants, like Discipling, New outreach Ideas, Adult and Children Health Care, Worship, Volunteers, KID University, Prayer ministry, Small Action Sabbath School, Home Groups, Creation, and many others.

Christian Altin, another youth participant, attended the workshop Creation and Evangelism. He said: “Can we believe in evolution without our faith being effected? Do people have an interest in Creationism? Is there something going on to present these issues to the public in a captivating way? This Workshop caught the attention of those attending because the speakers shared exciting experiences of how each one of them is bringing Creationism to the public. We heard of events where a video on Creation was shown followed by a Creation Expo with real fossils, informative panels and much more. Creationism was also brought to the media, on a TV and radio program, and reaching abroad.

After attending this Workshop I have an increasing desire for such events to happen and for churches to become more interested in these topics. It would be a blessing for our churches to hold Creation Expos translating and sending these panels around from town to town just as it is happening with the Health Expos.”

Waldensian Temple in Bobbio Pellice

Pastor Ted Wilson presented the Sabbath message to the Congress. Zoran Velesky commented:"The congress in Bobbio Pellice had a positive influence on the lay members concerning mission. It was definitely great the vision that pastor Wilson shared with us concerning Revival and Reformation, through the 3 angels' messages. Also the great need we have to live and preach these messages. It made people reflect deeply on the purpose, mission and vision of our movement.

A great need was emphasized for a personal lifestyle that reflects the life of our Saviour Jesus Christ - to make a better impact in the lives of people we come in contact with." Great emphasis was given on the "Great Controversy" project that may also be developed in Europe.

The health message presentations were very positive in the towns of Torre Pellice and Bobbio Pellice. It was great when the Romanian Union presented an interesting "health bus" made just for the purpose for health expos. That reminded us that indeed the right hand of the Adventist gospel is the health message.

"I knew the program, I knew the guests but when I set my eyes over the beautiful mountains and the little stony roads of Bobbio Pellice, it made me think back to the days where these rocks protected the religious freedom here in Italy,” said Salvatore Cutrona. “I've found it very appropriate to have these meetings right here in the Waldensian valleys, especially after the message that pastor Wilson shared with us: revival and reformation.”

These kind of meetings are very important for the church because they give the opportunity of communication between the church and the lay members who are involved in personal ministries. As pastor Wilson said: “the church leaders cannot do it all by themselves”. With these words, the church recognizes the essential role of the members as the ones who are going to “finish the work” (as Wilson loves to say) by living a life that reflects the life of Jesus.

“For the future,” continued Salvatore Cutrona “because not many young people were present, I hope we could encourage them to attend in future meetings and also be blessed by the great commission God gave us in sharing with the world the three angels’ message."

The main session was held in one of the oldest Waldensian Temples. All the participants were lodged in different hotels or camping. It was a real challenge to comfortably place everyone.

When Moses called the people of Israel to collaborate during the construction of the shrine (Exodus 35), each member responded with enthusiasm to the call and gave his strength, his art and his experience in the service and glory of the Lord. In the same spirit the many volunteers have given their valuable contribution to the international conference "Be my Disciple" which was held from August 30 to September 2 in the green valley of Bobbio Pellice. Four days of intense work in which the volunteers gave generously and with a smile only working for the Lord can give. The difficulties were not lacking. It was a conference with more than three hundred guests from all over the world, but despite the rain and the cold temperatures, the joy of being together warmed the hearts and everything planned was accomplished. Just as the people of Israel built the sanctuary, made it nice and cozy, so we have built up our minds, working for these days of prayer and participation. A big thank you to all the volunteers who looked after the needs of the participants. Thank you also to those who organized the audio-video filming, those who translated the meetings into various languages, those who accompanied guests to the various places, those who set up the stand and mostly thanks to the Lord who enabled everything.

“The Lord has been good to us in Bobbio Pellice, sending more than 400 witnesses from different European countries to this special Waldensian valley, scene of so many memories of the faithfulness to carry on the truths from the Bible,” said Bruno Vertallier, Euro-Africa Region President. “We were honoured with the presence of Ted Wilson and Gary Krause from the General Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist church. I would like to thank every participant for their commitment to serve the Lord in harmony with His church. Many thanks to all the people who organized this special gathering”.


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