The First European missionary course in Kolin
PEM aims at spreading missionary vision in Europe
For years, PEM has recognised the need to organise more systematic missionary training among the European Pentecostals. In Kolin, at the Bible School of the Czech Pentecostal Movement, during 4.-21.8.08, the first European Pentecostal Missionary Course was held. Fourteen students from the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Finland, Latvia, Hungary, Armenia and France spent three weeks in preparation for fulfilling the Great Commission.
New winds of sending
Up to the present time, only the national Pentecostal movements of Great Britain and Finland have been offering specific missionary training in their Bible School programs. Arto Hämäläinen, the PEM Chairman, said “For a long time, PEM (Pentecostal European Mission) has been wanting to take concrete measures to meet this challenge.” The three-week course is designed to form the foundation for further steps on the missionary path. In the future, the plan is not only to offer theoretical training, but also practical possibilities for participating in special short-term mission teams. More information on these special mission trips will be available through the PEM and PEFY websites.
The students that attended the course were chosen by their national movements and all possessed reference letters from their pastors/churches. Teaching was prepared for both becoming a missionary and spreading missionary vision in one’s home environment and country. Some of the students consequently stated that they see it as their primary task to encourage and guide others to go forward in their missionary life. Agnes Nagy-Ajtai , a teacher at the Hungarian Pentecostal Bible College stated that short term missionary work found a special place in her heart. She says, “I want to promote missionary vision and thinking among our students in Budapest.”
The dynamics of missionary work in Europe is about to change and become more varied. For instance, new generations of missionaries and senders are emerging in former communist countries.
The international nature of the course was not limited to the student body, as the teachers and lecturers of the course also represented various nationalities. The majority of them travelled to Kolin from Great Britain, but there was also representation from Finland, Norway, the Czech Republic, and Belgium.
Markku Ovaska from Finland has been commissioned by PEM to organize short term mission possibilities for the students of the course. This year, some of the students are taking part in Impact Madrid 08, an evangelization effort organized by PEF. But the vision of the course is not limited to short term preparations, nor does it aim at Europe alone. Some of the participants are already in preparation for long-term missions, for example, in Muslim countries. Topics taught during the course covered various subjects from theology of missions, and evangelisation, to spiritual warfare, leadership, and practical questions that emerge in short and long term missions.
Networking in joy and unity
Cross-cultural missionary work is greatly based on relationships. It was clearly stressed throughout the course that nobody survives alone. Accordingly, many mentioned the best outcome of the training to be the atmosphere of unity and love among the students. The international context promoted networking and the forming of relationships which may prove to be in many ways a valuable tool in the future lives of the students. Also the opportunity to meet and to get acquainted with many men and women of God that came to teach in Kolin, was experienced as a great privilege by the attendants.
Teaching was seen as encouraging, challenging and exciting. Those who took part in the course said the time in Kolin was a great blessing for them. Many saw their eyes opened to their present places of service in a new way. It is important to be a missionary right here and now. An example of this was the action of two Czech students, a result of which was that a young man gave his life to Jesus in Kolin during the course.