European Baptist Women's Union


Echoes of the EBF Council meeting in Lebanon

Lebanon is 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.

Ewa Gutkowska,
EBWU president


Yet 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!

He 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 planted. (Ps.104:16)

It 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



For 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


Our 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.

Let 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.

In 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.

The 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.

One 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.

The 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.

During 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


The 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.

I 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.

Ewa Gutkowska
EBWU President


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