of the EBF Council meeting in Lebanon
a small country, barely visible on the map of the world.
But it is known to the public opinion because of the civil
war that was going on there about 20 years ago. The war
took thousands of human lives. But the dark days are fortunately
over now, though their shadows still remain in the capital
city of Beirut.
this small Middle East country is remarkable for another reason.
As one of a few, it appears a lot of times in the Old Testament.
The famous Lebanon cedars alone are mentioned 170 times. Lebanon's
ancient past with numerous historical monuments is really interesting.
Along with incredible beauty of the Mediterranean landscapes with
their animals and plants, this is what draws a lot of tourists
to this country.
But for me as a Christian, Lebanon is special as a place loved
by God. What love and care we can see in the following verses
from the Book of Psalms!
makes the mountains of Lebanon jump like calves and makes Mount
Hermon like a young bull. (Ps.29:6); May the hills be covered
with crops, as fruitful as those of Lebanon.(Ps.72:16); The righteous
will... grow like the cedars of Lebanon. (Ps.92:12); The cedars
of Lebanon get plenty of rain - the Lord's own trees, which he
is in this interesting country, in the city of Beirut, that the
European Baptist Federation (EBF) Council meeting was held on
September 22-26. The motto of the meeting was Christ in His Church.
Participants from 35 countries were present. The EBWU was represented
by its president, Ewa Gutkowska, and Elisabeth Vekas, the treasurer.
Livija Lame, sent by the committee, was unable to come because
of her family situation.
||Elisabeth Vekas and
Ewa Gutkowska in Biblos
all the participants, the meeting was a good opportunity to learn
more about the Middle East countries, especially Lebanon itself.
There were representatives from Syria, Jordan and Iraq. Lebanon
is a region dominated by Islam. There are also Christians, mainly
Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Maronite. The Baptists are in minority
- about 2000 believers in 18 churches. Through the EBF Indigenous
Missionary Project (IMP), we have newly established churches.
In the Lebanese Baptist family there are more women than men.
The women's work is well organised. They are actively involved
in their churches' ministry, supporting the men. They also help
children in orphanages and the homeless. They distribute Bibles,
which can be dangerous in a Muslim com-munity. Some of the women
share the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ with female prisoners.
The LBWU committee co-ordinates this work. It organises different
training conferences for female leaders and pastors' wives. The
Day of Prayer meeting in November is for them a special inspiration
for prayer, something they often emphasised. Both Elisabeth and
I had an opportunity to meet the Lebanese committee, to talk to
them and spend some time in prayer with them.
||EBWU delegates with some of the
Arabian Baptist women leaders
fellow believers in Lebanon are very excited about the plans for
organising a short conference for women from Middle East countries.
This was the previous EBWU committee's dream. We pray and hope
that the meeting will take place in Cyprus or Egypt. We are looking
for the cheapest place. During the Council meeting Elisabeth and
I talked to women from Syria and Jordan. They are also excited
about this leadership conference. Please pray that God will help
us to bring together Christian women from Egypt, Israel, Jordan,
Lebanon, Turkey and Syria.
me add that in Syria, a lot of people from different villages
have heard God's Word and are responding to the Gospel. So the
small Baptist church is growing.
Turkey, there is one Baptist church in Izmir (previously Smyrna).
It is not easy to be a Christian in a predominantly Muslim country.
Sometimes there is a high price to pay: loss of work or even life.
most touching testimony I heard was from Iraq. In spite of the
situation there, last January the First Baptist Church in Baghdad
was planted. A young leader from Iraq said the church continues
Sunday meetings and they have also women's and youth ministries.
While there is some fear, it does not stop church activities.
Therefore, the church in Baghdad is growing and the second church
is being planned. Believers are meeting in a home group there.
of the events of the Council meeting was a visit of the European
Baptist leaders together with Denton Lotz, the general secretary
of the Baptist World Alliance, and the president of the country,
Emile Lahoud. The meeting with the president ended with a prayer.
group of Baptist leaders also met the nation's Prime Minister,
Rafic Hariri. He was quoted to have said: "We need to
believe that this country is for Christians and Muslims."
We hope that the meetings will contribute to the freedom of religion
and special tolerance in this region.
the Lebanon meeting, we said good-bye to Theo Angelov from Bulgaria,
who was the General Secretary for EFB for the past five years.
His faithful and fruitful ministry resulted in a greater integration
of the European Baptist family and a contribution to religious
freedom and human rights. Brother Theo was also the originator
of the EBF Indigenous Missionary Project (IMP), a ministry in
which 20 indigenous missionaries in 9 countries are involved.
Sunday morning service
Left to right:
Nabil Costa, Lebanese Society for Educational
and Social Development
Tony Peck, EBF General Secretary
Billy Taranger, EBF president
Baptists in Europe have a new leader. He is Tony Peck from England,
a former General Secretary of the Yorkshire Baptist Association
and a tutor at the Bristol Baptist College. He is married and
has three children. With the change of leadership, the office
of the EBF moved to the International Baptist Theological Seminary
(IBTS) to Prague.
am grateful to God for the opportunity to be in Lebanon and meet
a lot of European brothers and sisters in Christ. I am grateful
for the Lebanese Christian women and their ministry in this country.
God works in Europe and He works in the Middle East countries.
He needs us and He wants our involvement in His ministry. Let's
pray for His guidance for the new General Secretary, Tony Peck,
and his family. Let's pray for the Middle East countries and for
planning the Leadership Conference for women.
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