Stories - Perimeter ELF Team 2016 #2


Perimeter ELF Team 2016 #2

Bob Christensen | May 31, 2016

As we said earlier, our volunteer team had many roles at ELF. Rather than try to explain the tasks we performed, I thought I would share what we observed and what we learned.


Team Reflections
"All the people were here to learn and of course to worship. Very gracious and energetic. We became good friends. I was a room monitor for Apologetics for 4 days – they all pitched in and gave me a chocolate bar on the last day. The speakers were very gracious. I will attend again, Lord willing."

"I have been to hundreds of conferences for business and ministry. I was totally amazed at how every single detail was taken care of – they thought of everything, down to giving us a piece of paper to give to the cabbie to return us to the hotel tonight if we get lost. All the camera equipment and room setup and the detailed training was impressive. I was pleased with all my assignments, just the right amount of time to relax, and to work, never bored, just right. This conference is all about evangelism... the platform speakers were incredible. Last night was just amazing. Michael Green, wonderful, sold out for evangelism. Bottom line of everything is the gospel. Maria (from Gospel Joy in Poland) told her amazing story... for them to do their presentations (in local towns) they require approval by the government and by the Catholic Church... so their choral groups are a mix of Evangelicals, Catholics and non-Christians. They had a special meeting recently to discuss a crisis in their ministry - they had 'run out of non-Christians' in the group - all of them had become Christians - so they had to get busy and recruit more non-believers. What a nice problem to have!"

"I'm in awe of their life commitment to live a focused, simple life for the sake of the gospel. True across the board. Young men in the pastor's track, they are very, very careful with their time and money, and do so with such joy. Touches my heart to know them."

"I am in awe at how precious they are, at the sacrifices that they make to get here. To do their work daily in an area where their message is not received readily. Their love for the Lord is the same as ours, their problems are the same as ours. Fun to encourage them and to be encouraged by them. I admire them so much!"

"Early in the week I was worried about my performance on a video camera, then I realized it was about the Lord put me into a classroom to learn. Each morning we had outstanding devotions that spoke to what true missions work is about: serving others unselfishly, the devotions were outstanding. Hearing story after story about certain ministries that were failing, the missionaries were in despair. Then they attended ELF five or six years ago. Now their ministries are thriving because of what they learned, the resources that they received, the network of God-fearing, like-minded Christians that they work with. They are rejuvenated to return to their ministries with great joy."

"The thing that most impressed me about European Leaders is their passion and desire for deep understanding of Scripture, of doctrine, for deeply knowing God. I have not met anyone who is superficial. Everyone here is almost in a different category. Instead of people talking about family, you hear them talking about justification, or ministry. So impressed with the leaders who are not pastors: the counselors and scientists and academics who want to be real leaders within their field."

"My family doesn't allow me to take pictures at home (because I am not good at it).  But here I was trained as a camera-woman and loved doing it for the glory of God. I love mentoring women. This demonstrates the purpose of my life, to mentor and train young women."

"I love what I'm doing. When someone would come up at registration, I just said 'Welcome'. People were so touched by the friendliness of volunteers. Think of it - many people live in societies where it is so cold and unfriendly. So many have grown up in an alcoholic family/society. I heard many testimonies of people - one of the husbands talked about going to a friend's house, a Christian married couple. As they ate and talked with each other they were so kind to each other, he thought "this cannot be real" - it was the first time his heart was opened to the gospel. Coming from societies of real oppression and broken homes... it was amazing to hear the testimonials of changed lives. And they are leading others through these house churches of discipleship."

"This was my first year at the forum.  So when processing people in registration, when I saw that it was the person's first year attending I would say "Oh, it's your first year. I really want to welcome you to your first year at ELF" - the smiles would burst out on their faces. A very special welcome."

"The ways in which they lead and love, I was in the back... it was sweet, very sweet."

"It was incredible. Just incredible. (overcome with emotion)"

"The only night I went to plenary last year I was with a youth leader from Czech Republic - the guy with the long hair. I took a picture of him because I wanted to remember him and to pray for him during the year. So this year he was back! I went up to him and showed him his picture from last year... He didn't remember. Then a couple of days later he came up to me and he said, "You know, I had forgotten that you and I had prayed together. Can I ask you to pray for me this year? I am getting married, I am moving, I am going out of my church ministry now... he listed I don't know how many things... I thought that is just nuts, that was just crazy. So, of course, I kept his picture and will pray for him."

"Nobody made a single comment about what denomination they belonged to."

"The European Christians that I met, and the speakers I heard (and recorded) were very different from typical American believers. They are hungry, eager to learn, focused on Christ and how to improve their ministries. They are serious about evangelism, serious about discipleship and church growth, serious about apologetics and media and counseling and restoring wholeness and joy to couples and families... Humble, not arrogant or puffed up with their success. The worship band, for example - they were wonderful, but I never heard or saw the name of the band.  No "brand management" or self-promotion here.  As volunteers we were almost invisible.  We were led into a new level of servanthood. As one devotional speaker put it 'You are slaves... slaves of Christ. Slaves do not have rights; no recognition or gratitude is expected. What is expected is that slaves do their jobs well.' So I think we learned humility by serving. What a privilege it was to serve the servant Christian leaders of Europe.  To serve Christ."

"Interesting to see the variety of cultures, and different responses to the Gospel in Europe. Western Europe is cold, hard, adamantly entrenched in secularism, their hope is in "science" and government/social solutions. Some countries are dominated by Roman Catholicism, so the approach must be very different. Eastern European countries seem, in some cases, to be more open or more friendly, because they have experienced the reality of totalitarian oppression by Communism.  Many simply don’t know the Bible and have never heard the Gospel. We heard of many conversions in France among the youth; also in Poland, and other areas. One example is Gospel Joy, a choral group that patterns their music after the movie 'Sister Act' - they performed at Perimeter last year - they are bringing many young people to Christ in Poland."

Another volunteer shared this perspective:
"Two years ago Tony and I met with leaders from Bulgaria to talk about having a national forum in the local language. Last year we sat down with them, and it was so exciting to hear them tell about the forum that they had just completed in Bulgaria! It is amazing to see how action-oriented these leaders are - they don't just talk about it, they get out and do it! There are forums in Hungary, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and yesterday we talked with the Albanians. The thing I like about ELF is that this gets replicated - they all take it home, translate into their language, and replicate. It gets replicated, and replicated, and replicated. New initiatives around Europe every year - this year the new Scholars Network on Roman Catholicism. Every session that we tape - the audio and video is shared online with people all around the world."