News and Views
Editors: Margaret Brown
and Wies Dikstra

Biannual newsletter of the European Baptist Women's Union
Winter Edition 2010-2011
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Budapest Conference
Report on Women's Leadership Conference, Budapest 2010

For a few days in November (18-21) 2010, 53 women (and 2 men), from 28 countries gathered under the auspices of EBWU in Hotel Hunor in Budapest, Hungary for the above Conference. They came from Wales in the west to Jordan in the east; from Norway in the north to Israel in the south; a good range of ages were represented. It was an oasis for some, time out for others, but for all it was a wonderful time of blessing and encouragement as we sought to be "In Step with the Spirit".


Margaret Brown
It was a time of getting to know each other, loving, caring, learning, sharing, praying and worshipping – a special time of just being together as a community of God‘s people, and being so blessed because we were in His presence. There was a real sense of family and unity over the weekend and it would be right to say that God was at work in the lives of everyone who attended.

Steffi Georgieva and
Amy Oprenova

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The main speakers were Rev. Dr. Karen Smith, Wales; Didi Oprenova, Bulgaria; Anna Nemeshegyi-Horvath, Hungary; Jaap Dijkstra, the Netherlands. Each brought their own personalities into the various topics they dealt with, yet all worked well together and blended into the theme. Our times of praise in music were led by Amy Oprenova and Steffi Georgieva, both of Bulgaria.


Anna Nemeshegyi-Horvath

 




Anna Nemeshegyi-Horvath spoke about the Holy Spirit, the various words and symbols used to describe Him, His role in the Old and New Testaments, and His role today in the Church, His gifts and fruit.


Didi Oprenova



Didi firstly encouraged us to think about "Identity". Who am I? Created by a loving, mighty God in His image, redeemed by a merciful, able God, gifted with the presence of a faithful, caring God. Why am I? Contentment is the result of us finding our identity – the virtue and value of contentment, the key to contentment is God, Himself; the daring of contentment in trusting God‘s providential care. Secondly Didi spoke on Servanthood-Leadership from the life of Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus – God‘s calling; Mary‘s response; God gives guidance in His Word, the Holy Spirit and circumstances; Mary follows in sacrifice, obedience and confidence.


Karen Smith



Karen shared about Fellowship & Worship – we are called into a relationship with God, to worship and fellowship; we respond. As the Church, we share life together with Christ. We have communion with God and with one another – all different with many gifts, but one in the Spirit, abiding in the Vine, the Lord Jesus. Worship is the whole of life with Christ at the centre of our worship, the Spirit calling us, drawing us, called to give and receive, called not as consumers but as a whole life offering, single-minded, companions on the way, willing only one thing – God in everything.



Jaap Dijkstra



Jaap reminded us that we are called to Mission which involves our mind and our heart – basic strategies for Christian Mission, love being the factor which drives us forward. He covered four topics in our lives which relate to us being involved in mission; science, God has the whole world in His hands so we do not need to fear; social life, in a busy world where people are often only looking out for themselves it can be difficult to interact with and give time to others; religion, where many believe that all roads lead to heaven – not so, only in Christ can people have redemption from death, from judgement, from sin, from slavery; the future, many are afraid, without hope. Christians have a message of hope! Love is the over-riding force which drives us forward.



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We were delighted to hear reports from most of the countries of how the women are motivated in encouraging and training the younger women, and of reaching out to children and teenagers, to trafficked people, to Roma communities, to the poor, the elderly and the unwell, seeking to share the love of Jesus and the good news of the gospel in the hope that many will come to know Him as Lord and Saviour. The Committee also shared memories of the Leadership Conference held in Hawaii earlier in the year while Jaap showed the pictures taken there.

On Saturday afternoon we had the opportunity to see a little of Budapest when we were taken into the town centre to visit two markets and to see some of the sights. Even though time was short we were given a flavour of this beautiful old city with its rich culture and history. In the evening back at the hotel we experienced a wonderful Hungarian evening of fashion, song, music and dance. It was very colourful, entertaining, and enjoyable.



 
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On Sunday morning Karen led us in our very moving and meaningful Communion Service. Each woman was invited to take a scrap of cloth from the table and place it on the floor making the shape of the cross (after the service we were permitted to take "our‘ piece of cloth as a memento), reminding us that Christ died for all. Some pieces of cloth were plain, others patterned and intricate; some were ragged, others were straight and neat; some were pastel coloured, others bright; some were flimsy, others were strong: the Church is made up of all sorts of different people but all have a place in God‘s plan and are of value to Him. Karen‘s meditation came from Zechariah 4:6, "not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord Almighty."

God‘s Spirit is creative and is at work comforting, guiding, healing, pleading. Risks need to be taken to walk in step with Him. We know we do not have the might, nor the power, nor the ability, to change things, to forgive, to love etc. We cannot, but God can! God gives us His Spirit and He gives us new ways of being. God is at work in us. We are renewed by the Spirit as we give ourselves to Him. We celebrated the Lord‘s Supper by serving one another, and again there was real sense that the Lord was in our midst.

Following the Communion Service, the women stood under a large open umbrella. Blessings from God‘s Word were read out and each woman was invited to take a drop of blessing which hung on ribbons from the spokes of the open umbrella. Again this was a precious, meaningful moment.

Afterwards a short time was given for participants to respond to the Conference if they wished. This was an emotional time for some as they gave testimony of the Spirit‘s work in their lives over the few days we had been together.

There is so much more which could be included in this report, but space forbids it. Over the four days of the Conference we renewed friendships and made new ones in the loving atmosphere of being in God‘s presence, sitting at the Lord‘s feet, learning from Him. None of us went home the same as we had come; all, I‘m sure were changed in some way having met with the Lord. As we left we left "in Step with the Spirit". Praise His wonderful name!

Margaret Brown




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