Saturday, October 28, 2017

Central European Core Circle meetings

Alongside our monthly Skype meetings, we also try to meet twice a year in person. We met in April in Albania, and we decided then that I would host them in Banja Luka, Bosnia Herzegovina in the autumn. Jason is on sabbatical in the US, but the other 3 came along and we had a great time - Alket from Albania, Arlen from the US, serving in Romania and Florin from Romania: Florin and I are the co-conveners of the team.
The first whole morning we spent having Skype meetings with people from different locations across Central Europe. It was our annual Prayer Day for Central Europe, and we managed to meet up with people in 10 of the 16 countries and prayed together with them. It was so good to connect with so many of the over 200 YWAMers who are in Central Europe! Below is a photo of us with two locations in Greece and one in Macedonia:
The rest of the time we spent meeting mostly just us, but we did have one meeting with our now former convener, Yohanan, who Skyped in from Ireland: It was great to have him impart some of his wisdom before he goes on sabbatical to decide what he will be doing next.
We also got out and about in Banja Luka, so they could enjoy the city and see how beautiful it is: here we are at the Kastel Fortress:
It was good to see each other in person and not just on Skype, and it helps to be together so we can make important decisions and we also did a lot of organising for our Leadership Gathering which happens next spring!

- Belinda Chaplin
YWAM CE Co-Convener

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Central Europe DTS center

For those of you in YWAM, do you remember the first week of your DTS? What you felt and experienced as you spent your first days in a YWAM community; the excitement, adventure, and forming time that was? Or maybe for some it was uncomfortable and even though God worked in your life you didn’t walk away with the best experience. The DTS continues to be the gateway to our mission and a place where we see incredible fruit of people becoming and growing as disciples of Jesus! DTS students are a precious gift to us, a source of life and fresh vision as God speak through even the youngest recruit. DTS staff and leaders are in that way the gatekeepers of YWAM, in a key position to walk alongside of those who will join and lead this movement! 
The DTS resource team in Central Europe is committed to help train, equip, and be a resource for DTS in our area. We do this by helping to equip DTS staff and leaders through DTS Workshops or staff training, and by gathering DTS leaders to partner together and network across and outside of Central Europe. The team is made up of Mirjam and Chris in Serbia, Vane in Budapest, Steve in Macedonia, Jarod and Bexi in Croatia, and myself in Romania…along with some others who serve in different capacities. 
Together we can do more! That’s something we are seeing as God is leading locations to collaborate and strengthen partnerships across the region. This is especially helpful as our DTS’s are not large in numbers, and sometimes a small team will need extra staff. So God has provided: staff from Bulgaria and Slovakia to come to Budapest to staff, from Czech to Croatia to work with DTS, even a YWAM ship in Greece serving as a location for a DTS to operate, and more!

Testimonies from DTS’s in our region: 
From Tabytha from the DTS Circle Romania :
For the first time in many years we have a collaborative DTS between two ministries in Romania: ELS Ministries Cluj and YWAM Iasi. During this DTS I learned two important things: the power of partnership and the courage to take steps that require a greater faith in God! We can see the blessings of working together, of sharing resources from each location, and the richness of differing values and ideas. And the blessings of trusting God when we feel that our resources are not enough. Even as we’ve moved from place to place, and will do outreach in Cluj, Athens and Tanzania, God has been more than faithful to provide the resources needed!

From Andreja in Slovenia: 
As soon as I was introduced to YWAM, God began putting dreams in my heart about having YWAM in Slovenia. Those dreams were about pioneering YWAM in Slovenia and receiving teams. l started to pray and ask God what that would look like. I kept praying and a Bible verse came up that helped my heart trust in God: "Listen to my voice, and do all that I command you. So shall you be my people, and I will be your God" (Jeremiah 11:4) ...  Fast-forward: I did my DTS in Kona and staffed one year there and then I came home to Slovenia, not knowing what I was going to do but still sensing that something with YWAM would happen in Slovenia.

In August 2016, I received three similar emails from YWAM Amsterdam, Norway and England, all from people I didn't know. They each found me on Facebook the same week (separately) and they all had the same questions. They had prayers and desires to see God moving in Slovenia. Out of that, we had our very first YWAM Gathering in Slovenia, in March, 2017. l was absolutely amazed at how God orchestrated everything, people responded to this gathering and came from all over Europe. I was encouraged by this momentum and realized that God prepared all of it and had been working in the hearts of others through my prayers. Because of the gathering in March an outreach team from YWAM Split, Croatia decided to come to serve in Slovenia for two months over the summer. lt was an absolute joy to receive them. Hopefully the first of many!  

I cannot fully explain just how joyful and fulfilling it was in trusting, waiting and obeying God, to then see the fulfillment of His word. God certainly prepared this team, way before I knew them. My encouragement to everyone is: keep trusting God for the dreams He has put on your heart. Whatever He started, He will finish. Trust at all times and wait for His perfect timing. He will provide for what He has called you to do and He will make Himself known.

Arlen Stoltzfus with Tabita Huluban and Andreja Klinc

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Costa Rica gathering

The theme for this year’s U of N gathering:
“Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”

A few questions to consider:
Do we primarily pray for the Kingdom to come or build the Kingdom? 
 Does Jesus’ prayer imply that the will of God is not being done on the earth?  
Who cares about the earth anyways if it will all be burned up in flames? 
 If the will of God is being done on heaven, what does that actually look like?  
Can we really expect that here on the earth?

It was a special privilege for me to be back in Latin America again among many good friends, as our family spent 6 years in this beautiful part of the world.  The gathering featured translation facilitating 5 languages:  English, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean and American sign language.  This created a very diverse and beautiful dynamic of worship, intercession, Bible study, discussion, and encouragement around the tables.  

We wrestled with questions like those above and many others in San José, Costa Rica at the bi-annual University of the Nations gathering.  Do you wrestle with questions like this personally, or among your family and friends?  Do your base and schools consider these questions, related to your training programs, evangelistic efforts, and mercy ministries?  Our keynote speaker Skye Jethani challenged us to dig into the Word to try to answer these questions, with the implication that our answers dictate our view of the future, and our view of the future dictates what we put our hands to today (more in his book Futureville).  

Alongside Skye’s teaching, we used the creative and provocative videos produced by The Bible Project to challenge our assumptions about the nature of the Kingdom and how man fits into God’s plan.  Most ministry either fits into an “evacuation model” (save souls in order to populate a heavenly kingdom while abandoning creation) or an “evolution model” (institute social programs to make the earth a better place while abandoning proclamation of the Gospel and discipleship aimed towards internal transformation).   Both models have a trace of the truth, but are not wholistic views of the eternal Kingdom God is building.  God has delegated authority to mankind to multiply the beauty and abundance of Eden into all the world, to disciple nations, and to prepare for the day when we will see King Jesus reigning on the earth.  

God led us into a time of dealing seriously with the implications of these 
foundational truths and respond appropriately:

How seriously have we taken our mandate to influence (not take over) the spheres with God’s truth?
How does this mandate change our attitude and approach to our daily work?
Do we operate from a divided secular/ sacred worldview that puts some jobs and ministries as more valuable than others?

To see a video recap of the gathering, click here

There is also an initiative to create online and distance learning that also offers U of N credits called  Extension Studies.  This is a very flexible and creative way to create virtual learning opportunities around a wide variety of topics, as well as offering structured staff training that also qualifies for U of N credits.   

As well, we were considering and praying about an appropriate response to the hurricanes that recently affected the Caribbean and USA and the two earthquakes in Mexico during our time together.  This brought up the very unique guidance of God related to the “twin ministries” U of N and YWAM Ships.  God led in very specific ways to re-position one of the YWAM ships currently based in the Pacific to the Caribbean to help the different expressions of the U of N better respond to the recent hurricanes and earthquakes.  See some amazing opportunities here.  

As well, check out the dates for YWAM Together 2018 and the 2019 U of N gathering!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Summer news from Poland

Hello, dear friends, 
In June - July we hosted a King's Kids team from El Paso, Texas. These young people helped us run a youth missions camp, here in Poland. Altogether we were 62, leaders and participants, Polish and Americans. We spent a week of training. Then we split into 3 smaller teams and went on outreaches to 3 different cities. One of the cities was Rzeszow where our family lives and our church hosted our team.

Before we got to Rzeszow, we prayed as a team for our time there. One little girl saw a vision of our group standing on a square and singing worship songs. One night, our schedule was changed and we felt that we needed to go outside and sing worship. As we arrived to this square (randomly picked), the little girl said it looked exactly like the place from her vision! That night we got to share about Jesus with 3 young people and they were open to continue contact. Also during that week a team of young people had a Kid's Klub and 5 kids gave their lives to the Lord, they shared about God's hope in an elderly home and the young missionaries also led a church service. Some shared deep and powerful testimonies. Our church leaders have shared that they were pleasantly surprised to see the youth serving God, at such a young age. Our heart and prayers is that our church catches the fire for getting to know God deeper and reaching out to community. There was a lot of planting and sowing in Rzeszow
We met with our pastor about follow up steps to reach out to the community and training missionary strategies. He supported the idea of introducing ‘Mission Bridge’, a shortened version of DTS, to the church. This will be a one-month meeting for people who desire to learn and practice reaching out to the community. We will meet one Saturday a month for times of worship, sharing and discussion, prayer, hearing God, sharing a meal together, reaching out to the city with debrief and for celebrating what the Lord has done. Our desire is for these meetings to gradually grow and to become more frequent and hopefully to have a whole missions camp in summer with an outreach in the nearby town. 
This is a completely new thing for us to organise and for the church people to participate in. Please, pray as we prepare and take off!

This summer, with great joy we've seen our two sons making steps in serving on their own. Sasha took the challenge of raising finances for the 2 camps he felt he should be part of. He experienced God's provision and we saw his face light up when he shared stories of evangelizing people on the streets. Tolik chose to help cook at missions camp, he did it with contentment and we've seen him really grow in his gift of serving. Thanks to your prayers and support so our family can do this!

Blessings, Roman and Tamara Statkiewich

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Praise, worship and spiritual warfare for the Roma in Europe

August 25th – 28th 2017 we convened the first time of intercessory prayer in Bulgaria for the Roma people in Europe. We had people from 5 countries – Bulgaria, Germany, Australia, USA, Serbia. There were more than 50 pastors and leaders of ministries among the Roma.

One of the most difficult things at this event was that not all Roma pastors from the Balkans managed to come. But I believe these activities will continue happening in the future.

The main points for intersession were:
1. To pray against unbelief in the European Roma, God to touch them for salvation.
2. Prayer against racism. Roma against Roma. Roma and other nations.
3. God to lead Roma out of religion and to lead us towards life with Jesus.
4. God to lift up faithful, humble and hearing God Roma servants in Europe.
5. Breaking the curse of occult and sorcery.
6. Prayer for blessing of all Roma leaders and pastors in Europe in all areas.
7. To pray for unity of the Roma Body of Christ with all nations.
8. Roma people to be blessing for the nations.
9. Breaking the curse of poverty.
10. Blessing and prosperity over the Roma in Europe.
11. God to prepare the hearts of the believing Roma for reconciliation with other nations.
12. Prayer for blessing of the Roma in Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Greece, Turkey, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia
and Herzegovina.
13. Lord, prepare us for Yourself.
14. The Holy Spirit to move mighty among the Roma in Europe for blessing, conviction and edification.
15. The power of the Holy Spirit to act with His gifts among the Roma.

It was a wonderful time of intercession and being before the Lord, pleading on behalf of the Roma people throughout Europe and especially in Bulgaria. We look forward to seeing what God will do in response to this time of unity and prayer. Please join with us as we continue to pray through these prayer points for the Roma of Europe. 

-Radko Kratsov

YWAM Bulgaria

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

YWAM Romania Family Camp 2017

For many years now YWAM Romania has run a Family Camp every summer, focusing on strengthening Christian families in Romania and seeing parents and their children grow closer to each other and to God. Every year it seems to grow bigger, and this year was no exception with 36 families participating! The camp was already full almost four months before it started. Imagine 70 children and 70 adults together for a week in the mountains of rural Romania; singing songs, playing games, dancing together, receiving input, worshipping, swimming, eating, and lots more! 

With us to give input for the week was a wonderful couple from the US, George and Donna Snow. In the mornings they were teaching the adults and then spent almost every afternoon meeting couples, encouraging and praying for them. They are anointed in the area of ministering God’s Father heart and seeing people understand their identity. After one of the meetings with a couple in the afternoon, Donna said: “It would have been totally worth our while coming to Romania if it was only to meet with and pray for that family!”. We were so blessed to have them with us. For a couple that’s been married 59 years they really don’t act their age (especially when George went down the zip line hanging upside down with no hands)!

A highlight for many couples was the romantic evening. The couples came dressed up and were given a small package of things to have a picnic style date there on the camp ground while their kids were looked after. They got to sit on a blanket in the grass, look into each other’s eyes, enjoy a few snacks, and for some have meaningful conversation. Meanwhile for those of us watching the kids it was a bit of a different scene as we tried to entertain all 60 or so of them, many of whom were tired, and weren’t sure if they were ready to be away from their parents! But miraculously after 15 minutes of chaos a quiet and peace came over the kids as they engaged with the program. We were so thankful for our friends from Albania who came to help with the children’s program! The kids were doing skits, singing songs for each other, dancing, and even the teenagers did a skit which the smaller kids loved.

Of their experience one person wrote, “Through this camp I was really able to get closer to my spouse. The activities and games we did together with the whole family strengthened our relationships.” That’s always our prayer, as strong marriages make strong families. God designed it like that! Another family said, “This camp was a time where we were able to disconnect from other things and we could get closer to each other and God.”
In a time where it seems like the family unit is losing its significance in society, these camps are really meeting a felt need. We are looking forward to next summer and praying for more staff so we can hopefully run two of these camps! 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Awakening Europe | Prague

My team and I moved to Prague from YWAM Brisbane, Australia, a few months ago to join YWAM in the Czech Republic. Over these months we were able attend meetings having to do with Awakening Europe. Awakening Europe is a movement, inspired by God to Awaken Europe through hosting conferences in cities the Lord is highlighting. In previous years, Awakenings have been held in Germany and Sweden. On the back of this year’s promo flyer were the words, translated from Czech:

It is time for a new reformation, one that unites us and does not divide us.

The Czech Republic is a nation with a rich history. Over 600 years ago a man named Jan Huss sparked the flames of The Reformation. Sadly now, through many religious battles and turmoil the nation has digressed to claiming themselves as predominantly atheist.

In the last week of June, different parts of the body of Christ came together from all over the world to join in this event. This included all denominations from Charismatics to Catholics from local, national and international churches including movements such as Bethel, IHOP, YWAM, YWAM Circuit Riders and many more.

The three days leading up to the conference, teams went out to strategic locations in the city to ‘flood’ Czechs and tourists a-like with the good news of the gospel and free tickets to the Awakening. During the event, those attending the conference were also encouraged to reach out to the city and had a time during the conference to do this.

I was able sign-up to help with these outreach teams. During one of the days, my team and I were on a tram going to our outreach location and took the opportunity to speak and pray for those around us. Through this time God healed a young woman’s knee and there were many witnesses who heard and saw what happened and were amazed by God’s power and the Joy of the Lord displayed through us.

During the conference not only did many surrender their lives to Christ but I believe there was a shift made: faith was released, desperation for the Holy Spirit was cultivated and orphans were set free and awakened into their identity as Sons and Daughters of the High King. We are living in a Kairos time in history where God is gently awakening the geographical heart of Europe.

Kassia Aebischer 
YWAM Prague

Friday, July 7, 2017

Communication circle in Central Europe

Hello everyone!

We sit with good friends around a table with delicious food - we enjoy the food and one another’s company and stories. Isn’t this a refreshing scenario that we all know and love? As we hear other’s stories and share ours we connect with one another, our friendships grow, we inspire and encourage one another, grieve and laugh together. What a wonderful and powerful gift God gave us with fellowship and communication!
As the Communication circle for YWAM CE we are committed to help to build a culture of vibrant, timely, relevant and life-giving communication both inside and outside our CE region. Some aspects of this are:

  •  keeping our YWAM CE website current
  •  sending out the CE Newsletter two to three times a year
  •  feeding our Blog, Twitter and Facebook page (with your contributions!)
  •  administrating the CE email list so that every staff in our region receives the ongoing information relevant to our region (e.g. about staff conferences, training possibilities, information from the Core Circle etc.)
  • keeping a mailing list for our newsletter of people interested in what is going on in the region
Communication is vibrant and dynamic – the more people who participate and contribute, the more life will flow. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to share your stories, input and information – they matter! Nothing is too small or insignificant to be communicated. We love to hear from one another and see our region being connected more and more through mutual communication. Come and join our YWAM CE table fellowship!

For more information please see our CE webpage:

CE Communication Circle contact information:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

European Leadership Training School | Kraków, Poland

In June, over 100 leaders from 26 different nations came to Kraków, Poland, for the 4th of 5 modules in the European Leadership Training School (LTS). The school started in Norway in October, and aims to bring together leaders from all over Europe over the 5 intensive modules, and then have them work in processing groups and hand in assignments online in between. This new model will give credits equivalent to the 12 week LTS schools in the UofN.

In Krakow, the school focused on areas of influence in Europe. Jeff Fountain, former YWAM European Director, and now director of the Schuman Centre for European Studies, shared on perspectives of Europe’s past, present and future. A missionary from Jordan shared with us how God is working amongst the Muslims, and how we need to see the refugee crisis as an opportunity for ministering amongst the Muslim World. Bruce Clewett with Kerygma, shared on how we need to be partnering with the Catholic World. We were also privileged to hear from Auxiliary Bishop Ryś from Krakow who gave us his perspective of the situation of the Catholic Church in Poland.
Jeff Fountain praying for Bishop Ryś
One evening, instead of the planned “fun night”, we joined in with a Catholic Praise time in the main square of Krakow. It was amazing to see how many people came to praise the Lord publicly and how open to the Holy Spirit the worshippers were – Charismatic Renewal is happening in Poland! You can see a video here of what it looked like here.
Bruce Clewett sharing how to walk hand in hand when you don't see eye to eye
We were joined by most of the YWAMers in Poland, and it is a joy to see how God is slowly but surely adding to their numbers - now we have 4 locations. They were all involved in some way in the hosting of the school, but the biggest thanks goes to Helen Hess in Krakow who did most of the heavy lifting to find places for 120 people to meet and sleep for the week. Well done team and especially Helen!

I am a student on the school, and am enjoying seeing how God is networking us together across Europe and growing each of us through the 5 intensive weeks. We now have to do our LTS “project” by the end of July, and the last module and graduation takes place in Kiev, Ukraine in August.

I am so pleased that these leaders could come to Poland and focus on the northern part of our region, seeing what God is doing there and how they can become involved. As we see God already multiplying what is going on there, we need to keep praying for growth in our numbers and impact throughout Poland.

-Belinda Chaplin

YWAM Central Europe Convener

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Base Hospitality For Festivities – Practical Questions to Ask Yourself As A Leader

„Oh man, it’s coming up too quickly!” you mumble under your breath as you close the door behind the last base leadership meeting. A colleague almost by chance just found out the base’s 20th anniversary is coming up in only about five months. Your shoulders sagged. “How on earth shall we go about this?” you think and an eerie feeling of “too late” creeps into your kidneys. You (of that at least you are sure) - will be held responsible if anything is not what people expect. Fog fills your brain, your stomach signals early signs of nausea.
Now, for love-feasts you have a paradigm – or so you think, but this one? You wished someone would send you on an urgent outreach, say, to Outer Mongolia, because you have never overseen an event both big for staff present and past, for alumni and then - well, yes - also outsiders. And not only outsiders of the casual sort. That you could handle, but vaguely you think that perhaps a pastor would be good to have as well.

Dear leader, be encouraged: you are not the first one in that sort of thing and you are already on the right track! Your first step further might be to get an intuitive feel of the dimension of the envisioned feast. Is it only for you as a base to choose the dimension or does it intensely involve how other people outside might feel? Let’s say you decide a 20th anniversary of the base is something that shouldn’t be celebrated with a base love-feast only. Then a good step is to envision the people that relate to the pioneering phase of the house, then those who were around in the in-between years who worked on base or partnered with it in a significant way. May I suggest by now you sit in a place with a piece of paper or a new file open and jot down whoever comes to mind to be perhaps important in any way? Do a broad brainstorming that at this stage of the planning doesn’t leave out any person that could important.

Now, with this list you could go to your fellow directors and ask them for their input and their lists of guests. It may be wise to tag this list with a deadline fairly close in time, because you don’t seem to have much time for preparation - if you want to have the choice of a bigger event! Consider that people in different regions of the world are filling up their agendas rapidly, perhaps more quickly than in your part of the globe. If you want to honor certain individuals who made your base what it is now, you must ask them well in advance! And for that you need a date.

The date might depend on certain factors you also need to clarify before you can give it to important guests. Of course here you want to think about the location or locations: for your anniversary perhaps it is suitable to have something going on at the base, but maybe also elsewhere, say, a restaurant. By doing your guest-list you quickly realized how many people would have to be hosted and catered to and the base doesn’t offer a place for that dimension of a celebration. Envision e.g. that you might want to have worship in your program, so this does involve leaders and equipment for it. Picture what locations for the party might be within your reach (or do research) and by faith consider each one prayerfully. By now you probably have realized that this planning is serious work and needs prayer (how can the others join in?) and that you are unlikely to do a good job by yourself alone. So: how about calling into life a prep-committee by now which involves the right people from your leadership team as well as others with abilities to handle the questions, decisions and performances to be made? Some people have gifts and abilities that shine especially during such a challenge!  

Decide about your final guest-list only when you have a firm handle on what location you want and how many people it can hold and cater for maximum. Even better, if you can do it: decide on the dimension/ the framework of your event when you have it for sure!  
As a good leader you can certainly delegate a lot of stuff. Here is, however, what you and the other leaders probably don’t want to hand over to others:
For instance, the decision of who would be the guests of honor. ‘Honor to whom honor is due!” – probably as a word of wisdom helps in doing this. Ask the question – next to relishing the thought of having your preferred buddies there to have fun with – “is there someone to whom a certain honor is due?” Likely candidates for this could be past ministry leaders of your base, the founders, outsiders with a clear rank (“the mayor”) and individuals who made a certain contribution. Make sure you get in touch with them right away once the date of the occasion is clear when time is short! In case someone important would not be able to make it then, feel free to shuffle the date around.

You don’t have to do the celebration at the same time as the anniversary date! Anyway you are likely to choose a weekend if you want people able to make it. The bigger the occasion and the more people involved the freer you are. You can mention in the invitation (by mail? By printed card?) that you ask them to come on August 26 when the date that is celebrated was on March 9 already. If you do, maybe explain it to them in a sentence.

For the next question, a little tricky one, contemplate what influence the base has or has had on the location you are at. Whom did you touch so far or partner with? Whom with official ranking did you work with? Whom would you like to establish more of a relationship with in the future? Who are important supporters of the base or the ministries (get input from other leaders)? Here you might have NGO’s, pastors and church clergy, not of your own denomination alone, in the equation. Also town officials or deciders in certain fields of administration. There might have been YWAM national as well as some international staff or leaders in the picture.

May I suggest you make another list for yourself (perhaps others among your staff) with names and notes about their ranks and functions and when and in what way they relate(d) to the base. The purpose of this is to set you at ease about dealing with them and properly appreciate them when they are present at the feast in high dosage. Make sure you have first name, surname and title (it’s common to mention a Dr. or professor, because it’s considered part of that person’s name) to give it when necessary – don’t address the mayor with his first name only at the festivity, even though you play chess with him every other Friday!

In Egypt, Reinhard and I were attached to the German embassy with the work for the Seafarers he did in Alexandria that allowed us to stay in the country. So, once a year the ambassador invited the heads of any German organization, church or company to a formal reception into the embassy garden in Cairo. He had to usually welcome around 1000 guests. Once when we filed into that banquet hall to shake hands with the ambassador and the military commander and their wives, we were absolutely flabbergasted! Seeing us the first time, he greeted us with our names and asked about how the Seafarer’s home was doing! It almost took me off my feet! Later I realized that behind the ambassador a man in a tuxedo discreetly whispered something into his ear before each new guest approached. Apparently he had done some homework: I suppose it must have been a list with the names and whereabouts plus a picture of the guest. The tuxedo-man quickly screened the newcomers and picked the correct names and background. Now, this all seems fairly ridiculous if you celebrate your 3rd year on the ground only, parading around a single candle with 5 staff and a strawberry-flavored ice-cream! If, however, time-spans and the amount of staff and people and influence have grown over the years, you may want to create something similar that helps you to honor certain people - also according to “worldly” expectations, where rank and title plays some role…
Now, talking about this aspect and while you’re at it: consider also other ways in which people can or should be honored at such an occasion. If your feast has been decided to be wider than just the YWAMers on base, do include also the ways of the “world” to express appreciation - and try to be relevant. Once Al Akimoff, head of Slavic ministries, exclaimed, after being honored, something like: “Now I have been in YWAM for decades, working my heart out, and I receive: a pen!”  During the celebration you would want to ask each person to stand or wave while their names, titles and/or merits are given. Be sure as the leader you are prepared to say something appreciative about their characters and the contribution they made to the base.

You could honor certain guests through a token or gift. In this case ladies could be given flowers, the gentlemen some appropriate gift. Make sure – if you do this – that you don’t miss out on anybody who might be entitled to such honor! Keep all presents in about the same value. A local handicraft or something else the location is known for might be a good present for international guests, but not only them.

Of course, if you have creative people on base you could encourage them to come up with something even more tailor-made as a present or, also possible, as a performance. A skit picking on some mannerisms of a former leader can have the audience in stitches! The more flavored and “daring” contributions you have the better. As a leader, only make sure that the content and quality befits the occasion. If you have a large crowd of guests and many are not very close to the base in relationship, perhaps an 18-stanza-poem presented by some DTSers who insert all their outreach experiences into it is lovely – but sends the town clerk into extensive snoring because he hasn’t understood our live-style in YWAM.
By the time you are ready to send out invitations you as leaders also do well if you can give a hint as to the dress-code. That is, in case you have decided to celebrate the anniversary in the city hall in the presence of the governor, the mayor, 4 pastors and 9 CEOs, with a warm meal served by a caterer and lavish flower-bouquets on the tables, maybe it’s a good idea to warn some saints not to show up in their coolest but torn outreach-jeans and sleeveless tops. Rather you may ask for a certain dress-code (, so people don’t worry about what to expect. By doing this you are showing love to your guests because they do wonder how to honor you, the hosts, appropriately. Someone in shorts and T-shirt, suddenly finding themselves among a convention in long elegant evening-dress, elaborate hair-dos and tuxedo will perhaps not feel very comfortable… and vice-versa!

Also, the budget for the event should be the leader’s decision. Meaning, also the privilege of having faith for it! While in YWAM we are called to display hospitality, faith and generosity, the way in which YOUR leadership team will fill these values with life will be quite different from how other locations do and that’s perfectly fine. Think about whether you want this anniversary to be a vague remembrance of some sort and only that when daily life has set in again. Or whether you want to strengthen your relationships with the guests as well as maybe theirs among each other. We saw this when we did annual friendship days for our “Hammerle-ministry”. Some of the guests were of our own age and long-standing supporters. They very much enjoyed, obviously, to bring up-to-date their relationship also with each other during our little convention time. Try to think of how to work such “free time” into the program, if you can and offer a comfortable environment for such conversations.
A danger can be the attempt to try and limit the number of guests to shrink the cost! If you do, keep in mind that there are people who will realize others have been invited while they were not and feel perhaps excluded in a painful way. One way to circumvent this can be to ask guests to take responsibility themselves for housing already with the invitation. In this case do some homework and research housing in your town for different wallets. Mention a link to different hotels or inns already in your invitation. In this way they can look it up and decide on the overall cost it will mean on their side: transportation and housing for x people coming. It is then also the guests’ responsibility to secure a place to stay overnight, not your’s.

As leaders, you are responsible for what is visible about the ministry and the base toward the public. Do you want to invite someone from the press to cover the event? This can be an opportunity to communicate to the town! Who then is going to give to that person the details they may ask for, though? Journalists love to utilize something that saves them time and work. So, if you go that way, perhaps it’s wise to prepare some text and pictures of the leader(s), the ministry and the base to email it to the newspaper. In this way you have a good chance that much of what YOU WANT to read about your base in this medium will actually be there! I saw this often in communication with newspapers, they wanted the above items for public readings I did from the books I wrote.

In the Bible spiritual leaders are particularly called to display hospitality. For a celebration, this means you can’t delegate the welcoming of guests, especially of those of honor. That means, definitely, that you have to be there when they appear! If you can’t be present when the guest first arrives, make sure the staff receiving them will excuse you and hint at when it will be possible for you to welcome them. Perhaps, in case there is a phone connection to the place or person, you could call them briefly when they arrive: same impact. So, make sure at the time the guests arrive you are free from other duties, smell appropriately, are as relaxed as possible and stable enough to chat with each one on arrival. As a team of leaders, share in this responsibility and make sure you always do the first step. Decline the temptation to answer your phone constantly – you communicate to your guests that something else is more important than their effort to come - or that you want to be arrogant or aloof! You can plan beforehand and refuse to still organize and keep five balls in the air while you give hand-shakes. Rather, why not actively focus on how you welcome and serve your guest! With some of them you may want to even be the person serving them a coffee or bring a snack along. You may have to explain this and the procedure you choose to your staff and family (smaller children) and instruct them, also to not bother you with some minor issue during this phase. Do not underestimate this rapport with your guests!

Just recently Reinhard and I were part of a YWAM-conference in Thailand, knowing nobody there and feeling a bit out of place among 400 attendants. It made such a huge impression on us when Steve Goode, a YWAM legend in Asia, stepped up to each of us individually to welcome us, ask a few questions and show his appreciation…Do you think we’re open to do something with them – you bet!  

You want to also make your guests feel welcome and secure about the information they need to know for steering through the event. Is perhaps a printed-out program helpful for your event? Will it be just a white copy of the bare information in Arial 12 p? Or did you want to have something printed on parchment-like carton? In that case you have to include making it into your plans for an earlier stage.

Be sure you can see to it that special needs are taken care of (e.g. a quiet place to rest for those flying in from long distance, perhaps with a jet-lag or the need for bottled water; re-arranging the room distribution if it doesn’t fit the needs exactly, etc.). Now, here staff working in hospitality can of course come alongside, but it is powerful if a guest feels you are concerned about them or his or her needs, respectively!  

So by now, aren’t you relieved that no anniversary for anything is coming up soon? Well, are you sure? Perhaps you want to better check this out and then revel in the fact that till a next one coming up there is plenty of time! Plenty of time perhaps to go through the important points and not miss anything! Oh, and before I forget: some of these items might be helpful also for setting up bigger conferences of our own…
©Birgit Hämmerle

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Understanding our calling

We had an amazing time together with the field of Europe in Albania. So many great people, so much great time on the beach, so much great input as well.

Martha encouraged us to go forward with wisdom even when there is a cost. Reona Joly Peterson and Evey Muggleton Heckman talked about how God is faithful even in the most harrowing and difficult of circumstances, sharing how God delivered them when they were told “Tomorrow You Die”.

I felt personally challenged to remember the cost of our calling - like parenthood and living in community, things are often inconvenient and difficult as we engage in what God is calling us to.

I was also again reminded that we must remain loyal and faithful to what God has asked us to do- like the words that the Lord emphasized to us at Vajta last year as Darlene challenged us to be "God loyal" - regardless of circumstances.

How are we stewarding our call? How are we stewarding it even when things get difficult?
I am seeing a trend here- there is a cost, God is faithful and He calls us to big things- bigger than what we think we can do! Have we done something bigger than we thought we could lately?
The Central European area is so full of faithful people. Let us continue to return to God's words to us, even the ones from a while back. Let us continue to evaluate and make sure we are aligned to His call, ways and character.

We have so much great stuff that God has given us, and we serve such an amazing, faithful and loving Father. Whatever our circumstances- let us ask the Lord to continue to reveal His ways to us and remind us of things that He has said that are still important for now, let us also understand Him more as a loving Father.

We have seen how God has been faithful through the wild ride we, as a family, have been through these last couple of months with many tests for us while packing and relocating to the US for the coming year. Rachel’s novel "Ascension of Larks" was released on the 20th of June and we look forward to seeing what God will do with it! Thanks for all your prayers for us in this transition season.

Blessings to you guys from Seattle!

Yohanan Rempt

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

YWAM Europe United | Family without borders

Last year the YWAM Europe leadership started talking and dreaming about a having a huge YWAM Europe gathering along the theme of "Family without borders". The last big meeting was in Herrnhut in 2007, so it was time. From the beginning the place seemed to be Albania, where our YWAM team had good contacts with hotels ready to give us a great deal (as it is off season). The big issue was where loads of people could meet - so the idea of the tent on the beach (which is owned by the hotels) was born...

And it became a reality through a great team of people working hard to make it all happen! Having a tent on a beach and hearing the waves, was a fantastic reminder of Loren’s vision of the waves of young people going out into all the world!
The 750 people who came along from Northern, Western, Central and Eastern Europe were all blessed with two fantastic key-note speakers, Michael, a pastor from the Ukraine, and Martha from the US, who serves in the Middle East. The both challenged us in different ways to do more for God in all that we do!

We were also blessed to have Reona and Evy, the two YWAMers who were arrested in 1973 for smuggling bibles into, then, atheistic Albania. We were actually on the beach where they were arrested, and now they were proclaiming (quite loudly and with Albanian translation) how great God is. It is 25 years since Albania opened up again, and what a difference a few years can make!

Our Central European family met one afternoon just to catch up on what is going on in our area. We used the analogy that this was a great big family reunion with our cousins from all over Europe, but it was now time for the brothers and sisters to do some catching up! We were blessed to see over 20 new people being prayed into our region. We also prayed for our new co-conveners, Belinda and Florin and prayed out Yohanan and Rachel as they leave us in the next 6 months. We also gave them a little going away gift from Albania!

We were challenged, we worshipped God, we caught up and we networked. We had a great time together celebrating being a family without borders!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

New convener

In YWAM worldwide, we are moving from having one leader with a leadership team helping them to a shared leadership model. In Central Europe this means that we have been moving away from having a Director/Chairman with a leadership team (CELT) to having a Core Circle with a Convener who brings the Circle together (with the advice of a group of elders).

In Central Europe, the "Chairmanship" has ended and we now have a "convener" model, where we have two co-conveners who lead the core circle with advisory elders. The core circle then all help convene/lead the area of Central Europe. A reminder that at present, our core circle is made up of Florin Mihaly, Belinda Chaplin, Yohanan Rempt, Jason Hinton, Alket Sako and Arlen Stoltzfus. Our core circle elders are currently Helga Nuernburger and Wolfgang Jani.

After much prayer and processing with the core circle, Yohanan Rempt has felt led to step back from leadership in the Central Europe area. Through corporate prayer and seeking God as well as input from CE elders, the Core Circle, and the European Field, Florin Mihaly and Belinda Chaplin have been given the role of conveners of the core circle. Yohanan is starting the process of handing off his leadership role, and becoming more of a coach/advisor to Belinda and Florin as they co-convene the core circle.
We are looking forward to being together at YWAM Europe United in Albania- while we are there we will be publicly honoring Yohanan for his service to the CE area as chairman/ convener.

How will this affect individuals and operating locations in CE? 

Some things are changing:
  • there are more people involved in making decisions (an expansion of leadership)
  • there will not be a CE “office” any more physically; the mandate of the CE office will be broadened to include a more virtual group along with several circles - which are either formed (member care and communication) or in the process of forming (leadership development and others). In this way, we will continue to carry out the wonderful work that has taken place from this office for the last ten years.
  • the Director/Chairman previously took responsibility for many things - the Core Circle will increasingly direct more things back to the operating location/nation depending on the situation in order to increase the grassroots effectiveness of YWAM
  • the regional leader (which used to be called the Director or the Chairman) role will be held by the Core Circle as a group rather than an individual as we have done in the past  
  • our goal and desire is that more teams would be visited more frequently by someone from the Core Circle or one of our elders. With this expansion of leadership, there are now more people to do this. 
  • crisis and conflict will be dealt with either by the Core Circle or by a specialist or elder appropriate to the situation, with the hope that we will be able to engage with crises and conflicts as geographically and/or relationally “close” to the crisis or conflict as possible (ie. if there is a crisis in Romania, we would endeavor to find the most qualified people or person to respond in or near Romania. To find the most “qualified” person, we would take into account geographical proximity, skill, history, and relationships)
  • we will continue to develop more area circles - creating more opportunity to engage in ministry at an area level as well as local

But some things aren’t changing:
  • people will continue to be served in the Central European Area by the leadership and elders, locally, in their nation and at the area level
  • people are still committed to pursuing God and the Great Commission 
  • YWAM vision and values are not changing
  • people are still accountable for their actions through national and local structures as well as through the Core Circle as appropriate
  • we will continue to be responsible to our individual callings before God
  • CELG/CESG and other Area gatherings will continue to happen

We value your prayers for our leaders as they serve the region, especially during this transition time.  

-Belinda Chaplin
YWAM CE Co-convener