July 1, 2010

Facing the Future—Looking at Jesus

By Bruno Vertallier, PresidentPresented June 29, 2010

The mission of the Euro-Africa Division (EUD) is to support all areas of church activities in sharing the love of Jesus and the good news of His second coming. Young and old members, pastors, and administrators combine their energy and creativity to reach out to the people living in the EUD territory. This is a territory that covers 20 countries and even more languages. Significant cultural and religious diversity make this a ?significant challenge.

Our Goals
2010 1523 page12The Euro-Africa Division supports all actions that will: (1) draw people to Jesus, enhancing them spiritually, intellectually, physically, and socially; (2) preach the Adventist message as revealed in the Bible; (3) help new converts to find their place in a worldwide church; (4) increase the church institutions’ potential for witnessing and service; (5) strengthen the presence of Adventist families in the larger social network; (6) make greater room for ministry to women in the community; (7) train young people to participate and engage within the church and society; (8) build strong church leadership; (9) reach out to secular people without any Christian background; and (10) encourage members to use their God-given talents in reaching out.

Health Ministries
The Health Ministries Department of the Euro-Africa Division is involved in promoting a healthy lifestyle, so that body, mind, and soul may function for God’s glory. Our presence in health programs such as “Health Expos” for adults or children has been well received in many countries of the EUD and reached thousands.

In July 2009 the EUD enthusiastically hosted a world conference on health in Geneva, Switzerland. Health professionals and promoters from the Seventh-day Adventist Church sought to increase the impact of our health message and to collaborate with entities such as the World Health Organization (WHO).

Youth Ministries
The Youth Ministries Department celebrated the centennial of its existence during this quinquennium, as it was established by an action of the General Conference council when it held its 1907 session in Switzerland.

The mission oGC link divreportsf youth ministries is to lead young people to Jesus and to engage them in meaningful service. In order to facilitate this ongoing process the EUD started the José Figols Center for Youth and Children Research (located at Collonges-sous-Salève, France) and coorganized the European Valuegenesis study—a survey intended to understand how European youth live their faith today.

Some of the highlights among many programs were the Pathfinder Camporee in 2007, with more than 2,000 Pathfinders participating; the AMiCUS International Congress on environmental questions in Cernica, Romania; and the Pan-European Adventist Youth Congress in Munich, where more than 3,500 youth gathered and focused upon the guiding theme “It’s Your Turn!”

Education in the EUD has received special blessings during the past quinquennium. The number of Adventist kindergarten schools climbed to more than 50, most of them located in Romania.

The quality of our graduate programs continues to provide encouraging results. State recognition has been renewed to Friedensau Adventist University (Germany) for its theology, social work, and health programs, both in German and English. Through academic agreements these benefits have been extended to Waldfriede Nursing School in Berlin, to Saleve Adventist University (France), and to Sazava Theological Seminary (Czech Republic). Romanian Adventist Theological Institute in Cernica, Romania, and Italian Adventist College Villa Aurora in ?Florence, Italy, have also received state accreditation for their theology degree programs.

A revitalized consortium of Adventist language schools (sdalanguages.?eu) in Europe provides students around the world with the best study opportunities of learning a number of European languages, including English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian. Through full immersion they will not only learn the language but also appreciate a new culture and make lifelong friends.

The Family Ministries Department, together with the Children’s Ministries and Youth departments, has started a new way of working together since its seminal interdepartmental convention in 2008. It promotes family ministries training certification in the many unions of the EUD and has also developed new updated courses in premarital training. Initial results and feedback have been very encouraging.

Youth evangelism in the EUD is done by young people.

The EUD Biblical Research Committee (BRC) has contributed in a very special way to provide pastors with new resources for a theology of marriage and the often challenging pastoral work with couples, including preparation for marriage, and the prevention of cohabitation and divorce.

In the EUD offices, mission is not just the business of a specific department, but rather the driving force that unites all of the departments and the administration in a very tight and fruitful cooperation.

The Ministerial Association seeks to motivate and empower pastors in order to help them carry out the mission of the church. However, pastors in the EUD face two major challenges when it comes to mission: First, they work with people (inside and outside the church) who are strongly influenced by secularism. Second, because of a growing number of immigrants coming from different cultures and religious backgrounds, they serve in a less and less homogeneous society.

Traditional evangelistic approaches often do not yield satisfactory results in reaching out to these two most challenging people groups. For that reason, during the past five years the EUD has invested a considerable amount of resources and efforts to train workers and church members so that they may be equipped for a more relational type of evangelism.

In this context several activities and programs have been successfully implemented in many areas of our territory. Below we mention just a few with greater impact:

1. Conference on how to share faith and best relate to Muslims in Granada, Spain. About 60 participants attended this event.

2. Church planting projects: some of them especially conceived for reaching out to the postmodern population.

3. Community service projects to reach individuals at their point of need and increase the visibility of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

4. Renewed Sabbath school program and ministry, with a wide participation of its members, not only in the study and discussion of the lesson, but in all activities of the class.

5. Small group ministry: Several of our fields are discovering the potential small group ministry has in supporting the mission of the church. The results show a clear relationship between the number of active groups and baptisms.

The Communication Department pursues two primary goals: First, it seeks to build a positive image of the church and its activities inside and outside the church; second, it strives to help church entities and members to use all modern communication tools for sharing the gospel. All unions, conferences, institutions, and a large number of local congregations in the EUD have functional and regularly updated Web sites serving to promote the church’s mission.

The AMiCUS International Congress in Cernica, Romania, focused on environmental issues, and attracted many university students.

During the past five years in the EUD territory two major media centers were built—one in Romania and one in Germany. In addition, several unions established and continue to run smaller multimedia centers to produce audio and video programs and materials to be used on the Internet. The Hope Channel programs are produced in several of the division languages and broadcast through the Hope Channel satellite, Web sites, local stations, and cable networks. Several of our local Hope Channel stations are on air 24 hours a day and seven days a week. In March 2009 the German Hope Channel started to use the Astra satellite in order to reach more effectively a large potential audience in Europe. The viewers’ response exceeded our expectations. Similarly, the Romanian Speranta channel is permanently on air using a satellite as well as distribution through local cable networks.

We not only support the AWR worldwide ministry but also use local radio programs in several languages in order to reach specific language or cultural groups.

Children’s Ministries and Children’s Sabbath School
The Children’s Ministries Department helps parents, teachers, church members, and pastors to reach out more effectively toward children inside and outside the church. It develops materials and tools for children’s Sabbath school classes as well as for other spiritual activities within the church and for families.

In 2008 the department organized in Germany the first interdepartmental seminar together with the Youth Ministries, Family Ministries, and Education departments with the presence and support of the Ministerial Association. The program demonstrated how important and useful such a synergy can be.

This department supports the ADRA K.I.D.s project: this particular project was started in 2009 in the territory of the EUD and involves sending gift parcels to underprivileged children in Muslim countries at the end of Ramadan. Several unions are already involved in this project, with others slated to follow soon.

Women’s Ministry
The Women’s Ministries Department carries out local programs to encourage and equip women in the church for more effective service by ?(1) building networks among women; (2) mentoring young Adventist women and encouraging their involvement; (3) addressing women’s concerns; and (4) challenging each Adventist woman to use her gifts to further the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The “enditnow” program was particularly appreciated throughout all of the Euro-Africa Division territories and has impacted our churches and communities.

Thank you—the 177,000 church members, elders, pastors, and administrators of the Euro-Africa Division—for the wonderful witness you bring to the world in the name of Jesus until He comes.