There is a place tucked into the arms of the Rhein river, a tiny place with a German name that has been preparing and sending Nazarene young people into the world for the last four decades. Somehow, that little spot in Büsingen dreamed world-changing dreams. It used radical vocabulary like “transformational” and “impact” and “movement.” It believed that the God of an immense universe laid His finger on the edge of the Rhein River and pointed “here.” And they came.
For 40 years, a constant stream of Nazarenes ebbed and flowed through the campus of European Nazarene College (EuNC), building their knowledge, deepening their spiritual journey, sharpening their skills in this quiet German village. Each one came to be filled, believing that they were called to go as pastors, as lay-people, as ministers to their generation in their home countries.
In the middle of May 2015, the last group of Nazarenes in our collective history departed the EuNC campus for the final time.* Quite ironically, this last group was the first group of Eurasians to become a part of M+Power, which is a new regional initiative that dares to declare Eurasians for Eurasia as a missional focus.
Sixteen young people and 12 mentors came together from 10 countries for the first step of their mobilization, which is a cross-cultural orientation. At the end of an intense weekend full of seminars, prayer, role playing and interviews,
the participants are now ready to be propelled into various ministries across the region, which spans 39 countries and 127 languages.
Christian is 26 years old and from the Gelnhausen Church, in Germany. By profession he is a chemical engineer, but
plans to take a five-month leave from his job in Germany to travel to Nepal where he will help the church develop a safe and secure water system in the post-earthquake atmosphere. “I have been to Nepal before, I know the guys there and they are my brothers in the Lord,” he says. “If God opens the door, I have nothing to fear and I want to help.”
Nepal is not an easy destination in the wake of two earthquakes, nor is Jordan, and that is where Annebeth from
the Netherlands plans to go. Twenty-two years old and already learning Arabic, she has recently graduated from
university. An independent, articulate, self-assured young woman, I question how she will find herself in the vastly
different society of the Middle East.
On this sunny, German spring day, she smiles and pauses to think. “It will be difficult, of course. But, I am willing to
try because I am called.”
And there is Carla from Spain and Sam from India and Federika from Italy and Guillerme from Brazil, and the list builds to 16 individuals, all of them already fluent in at least two languages. At the age when they could be embarking upon exciting careers, these young people are saying, “If God will open the door, I am willing to be sent.”
“It’s a dream answered,” says Annemarie Snijders, who serves with her husband, Arthur Snijders as the Regional Director team for the Eurasia Region. It is out of their initiative that a network of individuals have come together for the purpose of empowering this God-sized dream. There are Dr. Paul and Cathy Tarrant of the UK who have been faithful supporters of Nazarene missions their entire lives. There are Randolf and Jessica (Hagelgans) Wolst, a cross-cultural mixture of Dutch and American, who have both served extensively as volunteer missionaries.
There are regional support staff working behind the scenes to deploy. And there are mentors and coaches being trained to receive and to aid the volunteers as they step into new missional roles.
This is the Church in Eurasia believing that God’s missional call is reverberating from the Alps to the Himalayas, and it is unprecedented.
For the past 200 years, the greatest missionary impetus has come from the North Americas and Great Britain, as these countries sent missionaries into the world. That dynamic is changing as formerly receiving countries now become sending entities. The mission force of this era is multi-gender, multi-national, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and powerfully equipped to be sent by God into the broken spaces of our planet.
We are sending people like Guillermo, who is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese but not in English. During a role playing session about cultural conflict, he played the Holy Spirit, whispering into the depths of the heart where conflict finds its fuel. It was a good reminder that although English seems to be the lingua franka of our day, it is not nor ever should be a barrier to serve. It was Saint Francis of Assissi who reminded us, ‘Preach the Gospel always, when necessary, use words.’
Long after we said our final goodbye to buildings and pathways and memories that have been the elements of the EuNC campus, reflections from the first M+Power training poured in. We learned that the bringing together of young people who are speaking different languages and referencing different cultures for the purpose of being sent out, was, well, it was empowering.
“I grew in confidence. I am excited about how God is going to use me. I left the M+Power orientation feeling encouraged and resourced for my future mission activity.” Of the 16 candidates, 13 went through the interview process and five hope to sent out in the next six months. Indeed, the Church in Eurasia is moving into the world. God is doing a new thing as His Holy Spirit leads us across borders and barriers to fill the broken spaces with his healing presence.
*While European Nazarene College continues as a virtual campus fulfilling its mission to prepare European pastors, the campus ceases to be part of our Nazarene identity on June 30, 2015.
This article is written by Teanna Sunberg – Missionary in Hungary.