EBWU Report of Five Year Conference, Riga, Latvia 05-08 October 2023
„All surpassing peace“
report by Ruth Madarova
Every five years EBWU gathers women from all over Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia for the General Committee Meeting. Considering all the obstacles that have been coming up in these last years, organizing a conference for all the women of our region is a great grace of the Lord Jesus.
This year, Thursday – Sunday, 05-08 October 2023 women from 30 countries came together in the Elefant Hotel, Riga, Latvia to celebrate 75 years of EBWU.
The theme for the conference was „All surpassing Peace“ taken from Philippians 4:7.
„And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.“
The conference was opened by the President of the EBWU, Fabienne Seguin. We were then welcomed by Kaspars Stern, a Bishop of the Union of Baptist Churches in Latvia and Karina Liepina, the President of Baptist Women‘s Union in Latvia.
Kasper Stern greeted us with the story of Nehemiah. This man enjoyed a good position and a good life in Babylon. But something extraordinary happened to him. It was something that changed his life and his direction. The LORD himself put the divine burden on his life. Nehemiah met God´s sorrow in his heart. It called him to stand up and respond. What breaks our hearts? What is our divine sorrow? Are we ready to stand up and respond? There are so many problems around us. We can not just sit on our sofas saying that this is not our problem. Do not become immunised by what is happening around you! Do not get used to these situations, do not ignore them, but respond!
Karina Liepina followed Kasper´s greeting with the thought that the value system of this world is upside down in these days. The conditions and challenges will not change, but the question is, what we are doing for this world. Are we light and salt to this world?
On Friday we were immersed into a Bible study, led by our special guest Karen Wilson from Australia, the 2020-2025 President of Baptist World Alliance Women. Karen is a gifted communicator and author. She speaks in a relational and often humorous way, that connects with many different audiences. Her passion is seeing people grow and live life boldly. She spent many years working across many nations and has a strong understanding of cross-cultural ministry. Her teaching at our conference was divided into two parts. The first part had a title „An Extraordinary Life“ based on Galatians 5, where it is written that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, has set us free so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom. We were called to freedom. His power enables us to live beyond, to forgive and to rest in His peace. The second part had a title „Hope“ based on Romans 15,13: „Now may God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace as you believe, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.“ When God touches our lives through the Holy Spirit, we will never stay the same.
Three workshops were on offer for the afternoon, and participants could choose one to attend. The workshops were:
1. Discovering-Living free: Going back to our Original Creation – Grace Beylerian
2. Invest in God, in Yourself and in Others: an Empowerment course for Women in Europe – Jenni Entrican
3. Pandemic of Anxiety: Journey with Christ in Uncertain Times – Cristina Pokidko
There was time to worship, share testimonies and pray together, as well as to find out about some of the work God is doing among the nations.
Saturday began with worship and following Lina Sawan brought a devotional message from Philippians 4:2-3: To have the same attitude in the Lord, working in one mind without selfish ambitions. We are not independent in our churches, or in our ministry. We need to be connected in the unity of Christ.
The EBWU Business Meeting was then convened, and voting cards were distributed to the delegates. Fabienne presided over the Meeting. After coffee break, the Nomination Committee convened the Meeting for the Election of new office bearers. The election took place and the new members are as follows:
Siham Daoud, Lebanon – President
Cristina Pokidko, Moldova – Vice President
Ruth Madarova, Slovakia – Secretary
Ligita Bodniece, Latvia – Treasurer
Nadia Morokhovets, Ukraine – Member
Lucia Vicens Rico, Spain – Member
Klaudia Wiazowska, Poland – Member
A new Nomination Committee was also elected.
Saturday afternoon was taken up with sightseeing in the Old Town of Riga with tour guides. Women could admire beautiful historical buildings and listen to interesting facts about the city. On Saturday evening, the Latvian Women´s Union prepared for us a special Latvian evening that started with a typical Latvian dinner. The Latvian ladies were dressed in national costume, they sang a Latvian song and taught us a Latvian dance. There was a lot of laughter and fun.
The Sunday morning service was held in Baptist Church, Riga. Pastor Edgars Mazis welcomed ladies and led the Sunday service. The Word was brought by Merritt Johnston from the USA, the BWA Women‘s Executive Director. She brought the message from Mark 3. She focused on two questions: „What do you want from Jesus?“ and „What does Jesus want from you?“When life is difficult, we often think about leaving the ministry. But the Lord never puts on us more than we are able to bear. We can not serve Him in our own strength, it is necessary that we first be with Him, seek His face, and hear from Him. Jesus himself longs for a living and deep relationship with us. He wants us to come when He calls. Our answer should be: „Here am I, send me!“ Are you responding to Christ´s calling in your life or do you have selective hearing? If we do not give ourselves completely to the Lord, we will never experience His fullness in our lives.
During the service, the new committee members came to the front of the church and were dedicated to their ministry by prayer, led by Merritt Johnston and Rev. Edgars Mazis. At the end of the service, the Lord´s Supper was celebrated.
During the conference, we heard several serious challenges to seek the Lord eagerly, to follow Him with all our hearts and to trust Him. We received a lot of encouragement and blessing. It really was a great conference for which we praise the Lord and give Him thanks.
„Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good and His gracious love is eternal.“ (Psalm 118:29)
Day 3 of the conference