Nicole, Pastor James, and I recently spent seven days in Europe at an “off the grid” meeting of gospel warriors who serve on the front lines in some of the most difficult, “closed countries” in the world. This meeting is rare–the last time it happened was roughly fifteen years ago. Over 1,300 people were present. Security was very high. The attendees had cover stories for being there.
For seven days, the attendees received spiritual provisions we consider “normal” here in the States. There were daily worship services led by a well known preacher and a band from Kentucky. There were individual counseling and marriage enrichment opps. There was a children’s camp and a camp for teenagers. There were day long training sessions for the attendees to learn best practices and exchange ideas for their specific ministry contexts. About twenty US pastors were present, both to be available to care for workers as well as to learn how to better engage this specific region of the world. We pastors received much of the same training the workers did. Our NEHBC team was also there to seek additional global partnerships for the coming years.
One of the many things that really impacted me was the daily worship services. None of these workers get to worship in groups larger than ten people nor at a volume above a whisper. So, when they got in a room with over 1,000 people, in a free country, with a good band, you should have seen them singing! Self-consciousness and personal inhibitions went by the wayside. I think I got a taste of the roar of the Israelites as they finished their seventh lap around the walls of Jericho. The workers sat through hour long sermons writing down every word they could, visibly disappointed when it was over. The prayer times in the worship services were fervent. It was a considerable blessing for me to get to sit in a worship service like that. I’m confident that as more and more NEHBC members spend the week living on mission among the lost, the more our worship services will also feel like that when we gather on Sundays!