Have you ever felt invisible?
Feelings of invisibility are common to many followers of Jesus.
Believers may feel invisible in cultures and nations where Christians make up only a very small minority of the population.
They may feel invisible in highly secularized cultures, where Christianity and the church have been pushed to the fringes of society.
They may feel invisible when they attend a small church, miles away from another Christian faith group. Or when they are unable to register with the government as a legitimate church in their society.
Many Christians must choose to be invisible, building God’s kingdom underground, in response to the threats of persecution, violence, imprisonment and death by their societies and their governments.
At the same time, followers of Jesus know that the material world we see is not all there is. There are invisible forces at work all around us, every day, with which we must contend. Invisible forces of evil, as well as forces of good.
Welcome to the Invisible World.
Weeklong investment, lasting impact
At the Eurasia Regional Conferences in Kyrenia, Cyprus, 14-19 November 2019, and Hyderabad, India, 25-29 January 2020, participants will confront the themes of an Invisible World through revitalizing fellowship, renewing worship, invigorating workshops and profound preaching.
For most who have attended regional conferences in the past, they say the most encouraging aspect is fellowship and building relationships with Nazarenes from across dozens of cultures and countries.
“Attending the 2015 Eurasia Regional conference in Antalya, Turkey, had been a lifelong impactful event for me,” said Rev. Vijay Bhalerao, of India. “Actually it was my first time to go out of India. Although I was born and brought up in the Nazarene church, it was the first time I got to witness the Nazarene family at a regional level. By seeing the members and leaders across the Eurasia Region, I was overwhelmed and filled with awe.”
Building lasting relationships
Small groups that meet throughout the events create space for going deeper with one another in encouragement and discipleship.
“The small group formed from the different parts of the region was a blessed time,” said Rev. Reynold Daniel, of India. “In this group I met a few people from England, Romania, USA, India and Glasgow. We decided to pray for each other and be in contact. Almost once in a week we share our prayer requests with each other through the messenger [app]. This practice we continued since the conference. The love and affection of the people experienced was a great blessing to me. This helped me a lot in my spiritual walk.”
“One of the advantages of being a Nazarene is the high degree of connectivity with the international church,” said Nabil Habiby, from Lebanon. “Being in the conference and hearing stories from all over the region is a precious experience.”
Among his favorite memories of the 2015 conference in Turkey, Habiby listed, “Staying up late to play board games with other youth, playing football with the youth, the one-day theology conference and doing theology together, worship together.”
Wouter van der Zeijden, of the Netherlands, said a favorite part of attending the regional conference is meeting new people in a relaxing, resort-like environment.
Speakers from across the region come from many areas where a pervading sense of invisibility is a challenge for Nazarenes, including South Asia, India, the Middle East, Eastern and Western Europe. The youngest speaker will be Rev. Ganga, a school teacher, pastor and district NYI president in Nepal.
Both conferences offer a one-day theology conference that is open to all, before the main event begins. A range of workshops throughout the main conference that will focus on the Eurasia Region’s five priorities for the next four years:
- prayer and fasting
- pushing our boundaries
- identifying with the poor and the marginalized
- learning to be disciples
- discovering and developing leaders around you.
The conference in India will add a Women’s Conference at the end, giving opportunities for women in ministry, whether clergy or lay persons, to gather for mutual encouragement and learning.
Two conferences, more participants
Past regional conferences have been a single gathering for Nazarenes from all over the region. Typical attendance has been around 600 people. However, as nations around the world tighten their visa requirements, and costs have continued to rise in different places that could serve as possible venues, the decision was made, following the model of the Africa Region, to have two conferences rather than one, in two separate locations. The objective was for even more people to participate at a location that is economical, and where they could more easily obtain visas.
Registration for the conference in India is already at maximum capacity. There is more space for registrations at the Cyprus location this fall.
Register to attend, and find more information at www.invisibleconference.org
This article was written by Gina Grate Pottenger and previously published in the July 2019 edition of Where Worlds Meet.