Global Conference continued...

Trip Start Sep 27, 2012
Trip End Oct 12, 2012

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

It took me a long time to work out the date today! The calendar has lost its meaning and one day is running into the next so it is all a bit of a blur. But I figured out that it is Sunday and the day's events have confirmed that, as have the sound of some church bells. That means we are half way through the conference!

We have just rolled from one session to the next today and at the breaks we talk to so many people that I am glad to sit down again. With the early start to the program we actually have 3 sessions before morning tea, which is quite a stretch.. We had 4 presentations after lunch, which I thought was pretty ambitious too!

Erich, who led devotions, spoke in English and told how he had failed it at school but an encouraging teacher had bumped his mark up so that he could go to university and be a teacher. Now he is a principal and he thought she would be proud of him! 

Another presentation that I enjoyed was the regional report from Central and Eastern Europe. Laszio from Budapest is the director and he works in 12 languages! He experienced first hand what it meant to be a Christian in a communist country - his father was expelled from his university job and did 3 years in a labor camp because of his faith, and is still involved in jail ministry. Laszio did a masters in English so that he could be a missionary and became a teacher in spite of his teachers - he believed that kids deserved more love than he got. In 1948 all Christian schools were taken over and closed down, then in 1991 the land and buildings were returned and schools began to open again. Romania has 80 schools today (but are totally unfunded) and Hungary has 325. After 40 years of closure, the challenge now is to staff these schools and train up leaders that are missing from that generation. Laszio is so impressive, so well qualified, and clearly passionate about his job.

There were lots more but this story was memorable. Matthew, a student at Pacific Hills was a special needs student who decided he should send bibles to Romania when he was 13. He was asked for more and kept sending them, eventually sending whole containers full of Bibles and clothes (costing $15,000 each to send). He eventually went to Romania and set up ministries, then extended to Moldova and Armenia. His work now includes prison work, bookshops, soup kitchens and a retirement village for poor folk. He organizes regular trips for Pacific Hills students who assist him in his work. Matthew only went to Year 10 and found school difficult, but he followed his vision - amazing story.

Tonight we had a visit from Robert Kerneza, one of the world's best free climbers. He did a visual presentation of his photography which was stunning and talked about how he works with groups of students, teaching them to climb and to get back in touchnwith creation. He became a Christian when he was stuck on a ledge at the age of 15 and decided to ask God for help!

We sang and had communion together this morning and it was a powerful time of fellowship. I feel as if I have known these people longer than a weekend and that my network has widened dramatically.
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