PEF’s Committee Conference in Budapest inspired
The Holy Spirit’s renewing power was rejoiced in the midst of challenges
Text: Anssi Tiittanen / EPPA
Last weekend in PEF’s (Pentecostal European Fellowship) Committee Conference in Budapest, the fellowship’s difficulty in getting its members to commit to financial challenges was addressed. The fellowship has 52 members, but only a part of them take care of their financial responsibilities regularly.
“Traditionally Pentecostal movements especially in Scandinavia and German speaking Europe have committed well to the fellowship”, says PEF Coordinator Daniel Costanza, but continues by regretting that in many other areas the carrying out of financial responsibilities is more painful.
The troubles are related to Europe’s financial crisis, which has not passed by churches and Christians. This is true especially for developing countries, where there have been powerful revivals, and where many Pentecostal movements currently struggle with financial troubles alongside their societies.
PEF had a financial deficiency of approximately €20,000 in 2011. Member movements were also strongly encouraged to take part in the Empowered 21 Europe movement.
Leadership as a challenge
PEF’s chairman Ingolf Ellssel pondered the movement’s identity in his speech.
“We must ask ourselves how we can get the financial situation into balance. We must also think about what we would want to be,” said Mr. Ellssel.
Long-term chairman Mr. Ellssel will resign his current position in 2013. The fellowship is faced with a challenge: it needs to find a new chairman. During Ellssel’s time many branches like missionary work and child and youth ministries have strengthened. PEF has also started coordinating women’s ministry through its own women’s branch (PEF-Women).
On the other hand well known events and undertakings like the Pentecostal European Conference (PEC), which was previously held in Spain in 2008, has practically come to its end.
“PEC has been replaced by the Impact outreach events, which are held in different large cities each year”, says Daniel Costanza.
The organizing of a European conference is usually a big challenge to its hosting country. Pentecostals do not travel to continent wide large events enthusiastically enough for them to be felt as enjoyable.
The Impact outreach last summer was held in Budapest. In the coming summer, child and youth ministry teams head out to Luxembourg.
The weekend’s Committee Conference focused on discussing about the different means of influencing in the continent’s society.
Chairman Ellssel stressed in his introductory speech that influencing must have a strong Biblical foundation.
“The Christians’ influence in society either stands or falls with anointment. When the Pentecostal movement isn’t feeling well there is usually only one reason for that: God’s power is missing”, said Ellssel. Ellssel also stressed that the church’s way of thinking must also change.
“In the Great Commission Jesus said “Go”. Too many times we think that people come to services and conferences, because God has the power to lead them there.”
Ellssel named John the Baptist as one of his role models. He did not bargain on his message and got into trouble because of it.
“John told King Herod the direct message of God and was then imprisoned and eventually executed. None-the-less, John’s work still influenced in Jesus’ work. Jesus himself personally referred to John.”
“When I declare divine truth, I am often scared, for I know what the powers of lies are. But when I look at my role models in the Bible that fear disappears”, said Ellssel.
Riku Turunen, a Finnish missionary who represented Austria in the conference, summarized in his introductory speech the Pentecostal movement’s influential areas of the last few years from the perspective of mission. Turunen noted that the movement’s arrangement of its founding times was repeating itself: Pentecostals are often immigrants.
“After the Second World War, Europe’s internal immigrants had lost everything else except for their faith. They brought the revival with them,” noted Turunen.
“Today Africans and South-Americans form a major part of the Pentecostal population in many countries.”
Turunen recapitulated that the European society has been influenced for decades through large events, campaigns and Bible schools.
“The Bible schools have often been the Pentecostal movement’s large influencers and sources of empowerment”, stated Turunen.
According to Turunen it would be good for Pentecostals to change their attitudes towards the Catholics.
“When I began missionary work in Austria in 1985, the Catholic Church was seen as evil. Today the situation has changed completely. In an increasingly materialistic Europe we share the same values as the Catholics. Also, there are many born again Christians in Catholic circles.
The conference’s second Finnish key speaker, MEP Sari Essayah, spoke of influencing through politics. Essayah found joy in the now frequently gathering PEFY’s political weekends, arranged in Brussels, where youths receive a chance to explore and familiarize themselves in societal influencing on a European level.
“We must look at ourselves in the mirror. We complain too often about how society abandons Christian values. We are not active enough ourselves. We have left the political forums to the hands of others.”
“When speaking to decision-makers our attitudes must be positive and loving. Also, it is good for our arguments to be of such nature that even those who do not share our values would still understand us,” said Essayah.
Essayah was presented with many questions relating to national and European level influencing. Many countries are undergoing processes which are questioning Christian values. This is especially true in regards to talks of same sex marriages, where the Bible’s values are completely forgotten.
PEF’s social ministry’s leader Wolfgang Grefe reminded the value and importance of social work in the Kingdom of God.
Grefe also reminded that it is important to make the value of Christian aid work clearly known to decision-makers.
“Make what you do clear to the decision-makers. Tell testimonies of the results of your work,” Grefe encouraged in his hands-on introductory speech.
“Ask for financial aid. Present calculations. Tell how much money you or others are investing to your ministry. Don’t make yourselves small, because God wants to be seen big.”
Attendees of the conference got to know the success story of Hungary’s Pentecostal movement. A movement of only 10,000 members has received a strong foothold and well heard-out role in Hungary’s society. Pentecostals have done a lot of ground braking social work, which is why they are much appreciated. For example, the country’s first drug rehabilitation clinic was opened by the Pentecostals.
“The Socialists said that drugs were only a problem of Capitalist countries. However, we saw many drug addicts everywhere. Something had to be done,” described Albert Pataky, the leader of Hungary’s Pentecostal movement. The Pentecostals’ rehabilitation centres accommodate 10,000 Hungarians. The social work employs about 2,000 people.
The leader of Evangelist Joyce Meyer’s Europe’s media ministry, David Wessler, told the success of the TV ministry in German speaking Europe.
“Media does not replace the connection to the local church. The problem however, is that churches do not know how to form a natural relationship with Christian TV programs,” Wessler challenged.
“It is interesting that Muslims and Catholics are also interested in and like Meyer’s programs. Many have also come to know Christ.”
One of the largest causes for celebration in the Committee Conference was the joining of two Russian Pentecostal unions to the European fellowship. The movements represented by Zalutsky Nikolai and Sergey Riakhovsky consist of thousands of congregations and hundreds of thousands of believers.
“The taking into account of Russia’s Christians is one of the challenges of the future,” noted Daniel Costanza.
The Russian leaders were glad of the attention their movements received in the conference.
“We have a dream of a Christian, evangelizing Russia and Europe,” Bishop Zalutsky Nikolai said during his floor. In addition two Ukrainian Pentecostal unions were added as members of PEF.
The conference was presented with good news from Luxembourg: a Pentecostal society of a quiet country (quiet from a Pentecostal perspective) has been formed during the passing winter as the local congregations made a united declaration of faith.
The freedom of faith and belief is, on the other hand, of concern in the country at the heart of Europe. All religious activity and evangelism outside the churches is forbidden.
“We have planned to arrange the Impact outreach next summer. We need your prayers,” leader Paul M. Chandler appealed.