News and Views
Editors: Margaret Brown
and Wies Dikstra

Biannual newsletter of the European Baptist Women's Union
Winter Edition 2010-2011
Table of Contents



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Aloha from Hawai’i
Report of the Baptist World Alliance Women's Department Leadership Conference

Aloha!

Welcome to the land of eternal summer and of rainbows. It is always warm and somewhere on the islands there is rain every day, even if it is just a few drops.


Margaret Brown
The beaches are just as in the pictures with coconut palms, and the sea is vibrantly coloured in blues and greens. Pineapple, sugar cane and macadamia nuts are all grown and harvested in Hawaii.  The Waimea valley is a beautiful, quiet place much revered by the native people as it is reputed to be the place where the first Polynesians settled and began to grow crops. The vegetation there was magnificent. Bougainvillea, hibiscus and plumeria are grown widely, everywhere, plumeria being the flower of choice for the women to wear in their hair. The people are lovely, very friendly and welcoming, and very proud and protective of their homeland.



 

Summer suns are glowing over land and sea;
Happy light is flowing, bountiful and free;
Everything rejoices in the mellow rays;
All earth's thousand voices swell the psalm of praise.

God's free mercy streameth over all the world,
And His banner gleameth, by His church unfurled;
Broad and deep and glorious, as the heavens above,
Shines in might victorious His eternal love.

For me this hymn of William W. How (1823-1897) perfectly sums up the Women‘s Leadership Conference (and the Baptist World Alliance Congress). The Women‘s Leadership Conference was held 23rd-27th July 2010, in the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, Honolulu, Hawaii. It was a wonderful time of women of varying ages from all over the world coming together, sharing with one another, worshipping God together, enjoying being together in His presence learning from Him and each other of how to be "In Step with the Spirit" which was the theme of the Conference.



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The executive committees of the seven continental unions arrived the day previous to the conference and met in the Honolulu University Baptist Church. We had a short time of worship before each group met individually going over their respective parts in the programme and spending time in prayer. The ladies of the church laid on a wonderful lunch for us – the pineapple never tasted so good, it was like nectar.

On registering each participant received a specially made "Freeset" bag containing the programme, pen, shell lei and information about Hawaii. The Hawaiian hostess-es were dressed in beautiful coral coloured traditional dresses and were extremely patient and helpful.


  Dorothy Selebano



The Conference opened with a sumptuous Aloha Dinner. What a colourful sight it was – the tables beautifully decorated and many women wearing their national dress. Garlands of shells draped over the chairs were placed round our necks by our table hostess and each place setting had a little woven basket containing chocolate macadamia nuts which were very tasty. The food was local and prepared Hawaiian style – it truely was a banquet. Once the meal was over we were entertained by the Wai‘alae Church Hula Group who danced worshipfully for the gathering and were very graceful and expressive in their movements. This group also enhanced our worship on a few occasions throughout the conference. Both Neville Callam (BWA General Secretary) and David Coffey (BWA out-going President brought greetings and words of encouragement to the gathering. The outgoing women‘s President, Dorothy Selebano, then gave her address taking as her theme "Redeeming the Time‘ affirming that this world is a hurting one and that there is no remedy apart from Jesus Christ. Time is short, we must redeem it, by bringing Christ to this sin-sick world, and as we do so we walk in step with the Spirit.


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Each day began with prayer at 7.00am and continued through the day finishing around 9.00 p.m. The days were full of praise and worship, Bible study, various presentations with power point, creative art (mime, drama, humour), reports, and prayer. Of course there was always time for chatting and sharing on a personal level over mealtimes and coffee breaks. Our praise was led by Debbie Kelsey, along with her daughter Blyth, and four others. Debbie composed our theme song "In Step with the Spirit". The diversity among us was rich and colourful as we enjoyed different forms of worship and heard from the seven continental unions of the ongoing work of the Kingdom of God around the world, focussing mainly on poverty and abuse, with various speakers drawing our attention to these issues and how they are being addressed. There was much to praise God for and also much to bring to God in prayer. Poverty and abuse might seem strange titles to focus on at a conference, but these are real issues affecting the lives of many, many people, the majority of whom are women and children, and these issues also affect the church in a number of areas in the world so it was only right that these issues be addressed so the conference participants could be informed, could pray, and hopefully could be motivated to action to help relieve some of the poverty and abuse.



Susie Mefford



A variety of very able speakers addressed the Conference on poverty and abuse and how it is being tackled by Christians around the world, our own EBWU committee member Susie Mefford, who is part of the EBF anti-trafficking work group, was one of the speakers. Each had a story to tell which touched our hearts in such a way that there had to be a response, and quiet time at the end of the sessions was given for that. We heard of work amongst, women and children in homes, orphanages, refuges, prisons etc. and of how through women sharing the love of God in very practical ways, lives are being rescued, redeemed, healed and restored. Didi Oprenova and Raquel Contreras both led Bible studies on Sunday and Monday mornings respectively.



  Didi Oprenova




On the Sunday afternoon each continental union had its own room, and opportunity was given for the conference participants to visit a few of these rooms to hear and see several aspects of the work being done in each particular continent by Baptist women. The EBWU had Helle Lith from IBTS spoke on some of the work in Eu-rope as a whole, Lauran Bethell spoke on anti-trafficking and Margun Warem spoke on the change in the Norwegian law as a result of campaigning against prostitution. Our EBWU presentation involved a power-point presentation of the various aspects of work being done throughout Europe while the committee told the story of The Old Shoemaster, adapted from a short story by Leo Tolstoy (The Old Shoemaker).



  Lauren Bethell




After each Union completed their presentation their prayer partners came forward and prayed for their particular Union. The prayers were conducted in many different and innovative ways. Once the South West Pacific Union had finished their presen-tation, Europe blessed that Union with blessings and prayers from the Bible while "drops" of blessing were "raining" down on all the SWP women who stood under a large umbrella from which the "blessings" hung (see pictures) while being blessed. Each woman took a "blessing" from the ribbons on the spokes of the umbrella; this was her particular blessing from the women of Europe.
Europe‘s prayer partner for the next five years is Latin America.




 
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Raquel Contreras of Chile was elected to serve for the next five years as President of the Women‘s Department and she will serve together with Donna Groover, Secretary/Treasurer and Patsy Davis, Executive Director. We commend them to your prayers. Raquel addressed the gathering as the conference came to a close. She stands, not alone, with her stands all those who have influenced her life, for our lives are impacted by others. With her stands Jesus to enable her to serve. As women of God we are called to serve others; we have to respond every day to the needs presented to us. We respond with love; remember to pray for others; remember to enjoy life; rejoice with a sincere transparent heart. We don‘t know where the Lord will take us but it will be fine. Work so our world will be a better place, work so that the Kingdom of God will come, and the glory will be to Him.



Raquel Contreras




The 20th BWA Congress followed the Leadership Conference from 28th July-1st August and was held in the Hawaii Convention Centre, Honolulu, the theme being "Hear the Spirit‘. This also was a very colourful event as 105 nations came together, bringing with them their language, culture, costume, music, forms of worship, prayer requests, yet all blending together in a symphony of praise to the Lord. Lots of people took part in Scripture readings and prayer (often in their own language). There were small group Bible studies every morning and a variety of topics to choose from for the focus groups. During the Congress "Mission in Action" distributed 20,000 meals for the hungry; prepared hygiene kits for churches and ministries to distribute as they saw fit; sewed lightweight sleeping bags for the homeless; prepared and served dinners at two shelters engaging with those they served; sorted donated clothes; painted a few rooms in the Institute for Human Services; worked with a local church to clean up the neighbour-hood and engaged in prayer on the streets, offering prayer cards and individual prayers for those who wished prayed for. All practical ways of reaching out with the love of God. John Upton of USA was elected as the new President of BWA.



 
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Many accomplished men and women addressed the Congress morning and evening, each sharing powerful messages from the Word of God. Lots of little stories were shared of people coming to faith and of how faith is worked out in people‘s lives. God is at work in His Church and in the world.

Being in Hawaii we enjoyed the warm climate and beautiful scenery; also the friendliness of the people who made us very welcome indeed. There was not much free time, but some did manage to get into the sea, either to just paddle, or swim. As we made our separate ways home, we had wonderful memories to take back home with us as well as lessons learned. Hopefully we were glowing not only from the heat of the sunshine, but also from our time spent in the presence of the Lord. I‘d like to think that everyone left having heard the Spirit and more determined to live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, and be in step with Him, for the glory of God our Saviour.
Mahalo Nui! (thank-you very much).

Margaret Brown



John Upton






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