For many people, having one district assembly a year is more than enough. So it is hard to explain what happens when we travel with the general superintendent in an assembly month. In January we covered 12 assemblies, and in March eight. We traveled to many places in a short time: Germany, Scotland, Ukraine, etc. None of them is like the other – different cultures, different time zones, different languages. We worshipped in a packed church in Paisley, Scotland, and listened to the new ways to respond to secularization. But we also were part of a much smaller assembly in France, where we were the only white-skinned people, enjoying the fellowship of brothers and sisters from Haiti, Martinique Cape Verde, and other French-speaking countries, and the district superintendent comes from Chad.
The history of the Church of the Nazarene in France has been one of much sowing and a small harvest. Several times, they felt that they took two steps forward, only to be forced to go a step back, and sometimes another step back. What to do when all the faithfulness, the prayers, the creative and new approaches, the investment in people do not seem to result in a strong church? How to be a church that is seeking the key that unlocks the hearts of people?
However, people and missionaries remained faithful. They did not lose their confidence in the gospel. They were a bit like Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 13:1-33). Not losing sight of the end goals: developing an independent, self-supporting, indigenous holiness church in France.
But a couple of years ago, a missionary couple was sent to fill a supporting role – more following than leading. And that helped an ordained elder on the district, who was planting a church while driving a taxi for a living, to pluck up enough courage to agree to be the district superintendent. “Throw your net on the other side of the boat,” Jesus said. And that is what Pastor Joseph and Brian did.
That was two years ago. This March assembly, we found our Nazarene people had doubled in numbers. They worshipped and worked in new unity. Pessimism was gone, people gave sacrificially, sang with joy, planned and prayed for new work. Nazarenes from many nations are reaching those who are spiritually receptive.
It filled my heart with gratitude: at last the Lord gave us a new way to serve Him in France. In several ways, I saw a turnaround from the past. I see turnarounds like this as times of sanctification: humbling ourselves before the Lord and one another, crucifying our egos, accepting new ways because the Spirit understands France better than we do. We relearn that in Christ, being circumcised or uncircumcised does not matter, only whether we are a new creation.
Missions is very much working our way through challenges and failure, but without losing our confidence in the gospel. The Spirit has abilities to unlock the hearts of our neighbors, our surrender, our prayers. Our sacrifices matter to the progress of the gospel.
- Please pray for the districts that go through leadership changes. New district superintendents need training, new routines. They deal with legal issues, pastoral needs. This past year 10 DSs were appointed.
- Please thank the Lord for the ministry of Dr. Gustavo Crocker as jurisdictional general superintendent (JGS), who finishes his two-year term of ministry with Eurasia. Later this year, our new JGS will be Dr. Eugenio Duarte.
- Please pray for all the preparations of the General Assembly that will take place in June 2017. In all districts delegates are getting ready for this global event.
— Arthur Snijders
Eurasia Regional Director