"HOPE.21" seen as unprecedented in Europe's churches
By Stefan J. Bos
Eastern Europe Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
(ANS) -- Christian leaders from 35 European countries gather in Budapest to consider the role and responsibility of evangelicals concerning Europe's future at the beginning of a new century, an official said Wednesday.
The Secretary-General of the Hungarian Evangelical Alliance, Geza Kovacs told ASSIST News Service that the four day congress from April 27 till May 1 will be "unprecedented" in the recent history of European churches.
"Usually evangelical events are run by Americans because they have not only the financial means but also the right mission mentality," he said about the congress, known as HOPE.21. "This (congress) is an attempt by Europeans to stand on their feet," added Kovacs (55), who is also pastor of a Baptist congregation.
His Hungarian Evangelical Alliance was re-established after four decades of Communism in May last year after a failed effort in 1991. Kovacs said he expects HOPE.21 to encourage his team and other Christians to look into ways how to spread the hope of Jesus Christ to the 21st century Europeans.
The event is sponsored by the Hope for Europe initiative (HfE), which includes several Christian organizations such as the European Evangelical Alliance and the Lausanne Europe Committee.
Congress participants can attend 26 consultation workshops addressing several themes such as evangelism, apologetics, the arts, families, men's movements, missions, city ministries, church planting, church renewal, youth work, and worship. There are also consultations about business and professions. education, health care, politics and especially the leadership developments among women, according to the program.
Speakers in the plenary sessions include Stuart McAllister (Scotland), Kalevi Lehtinen (Finland) and Roland and Elke Werner (Germany). On the last evening Brazilian Valdir Steuernagel will offer a non-European view of Europe's global role in the new century.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who recently urged Christians to play a more prominent role in society, has been invited to open the meeting, pastor Kovacs said. Kovacs suggested that the HOPE.21 marks a new era in Hungary, which just over a decade ago was still a Communist nation.
"I still remember a difficult childhood when my father was ex- communicated by the Communist authorities as a pastor of his Baptist church because too many young people came to Christ," Kovacs told ANS. His family had close contacts with Brother Andrew, the founder of Open Doors, who smuggled bibles and other materials to persecuted Christians.
"I still remember those (Open Doors) cars...at night," said Kovacs, whose father is once again running a Baptist church. Kovacs hopes that the congress will help Christians to "act not to react" in Europe and especially in the new Hungary.
He has launched LIFE, a program that wants to educate young believers to become within the next 20 years the best in whatever profession they choose. However HOPE.21 Director, Gordon Showell- Rogers, cautioned that European Christians must still recover vision and faith for renewal and reform for the twenty-first century.
He said that while European Christians "believe there are many good reasons for hope for tomorrow, rooted in a long biblical heritage of hope" they have "too often held back from expressing this hope in ways relevant for contemporary Europeans."
Showell-Rogers stressed that "while politicians and business leaders are constantly engaged in negotiating about Europe's future, Christians too have a positive contribution to make to that dialogue."
Organizers point out that observers from "numerous European church synods and denominational associations" have been invited to participate to discuss the 21st role of Christians. ''The message of Christian hope was dynamite in the first century. Why should it not be dynamite in the twenty-first century,?" said the chairman of HOPE.21's planning committee.
Award winning Journalist Stefan J. Bos was born on the 19th of September 1967 in a small home in downtown Amsterdam, in the Netherlands not far from the typewriter of his father, who was (and still is) a Reporter and ghostwriter. Already at a very young age Bos decided to become journalist and finally arrived in Hungary, the same country where his parents had smuggled Bibles during Communism.
Bos has traveled extensively to cover wars and revolutions throughout the region and received the Annual Press Award of Merit from the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for his coverage about foreign policy affairs including Hungary's relationship with NATO and the European Union. Stefan J. Bos can be reached at: mailto:[email protected]
For further information on how to participate at HOPE.21, check our website: http://www.hfe.org/hope21/ REGISTRATION IS STILL OPEN!
Annette Reiss, European Evangelical Alliance, Whitefield House, 186 Kennington Park Rd, London SE11 4BT, UK tel +44 207 582 7276 /fax + 44 207 582 2043 mailto:[email protected]
Saskia Been, Zwarteweg 10, 8181PD Heerde, The Netherlands tel +31 578 696975/ fax +31 578 696978 mailto:[email protected]