ELF08 – Day 1 – curiosities and provocations
Well, we made it – all 4 of us – to Eger in Hungary, for this year’s European Leadership Forum. See last year’s posts for more info. Am here again to run the Bible Teachers’ Network, as part of my role working for Langham Partnership. But because this year it is taking place during the children’s half term, we decided to come as a family. So it makes a nice change to be off on a Langham jolly without having to leave the others languishing at home. This year sees a record number of attenders from across Europe – over 400 delegates from over 30 countries. That is hugely stimulating. But also, there is a range of fascinating speakers and lecturers here – including Wayne Grudem, John Lennox, Richard Winter, Pete Williams, Ranald Macaulay, folks from Ravi Zacharias Trust, IFES movements across Europe, L’Abri teams etc. Quite an amazing combination. The only real disappointment (not least for me because they were both due to speak on my network) was that Os Guinness and Richard Cunningham have not been able to make it this year – which is very sad for us.
Curiosity of the Day
Eger is a wonderfully beautiful city (as the view (above) taken from the children’s room shows – with Eger town centre and castle in the background). And it is a joy to be here with great weather and lovely people. The only drawback so far has been the lack of drawable curtains. See right for the full extent of the curtains’ drawability – not ideal when the sun rises around 5 and not quite sure what their point is. Ho hum – but that complaint is completely minor.
Foreign English Quote of the Day
We are so spoiled as native English speakers – spoiled rotten. We go round the world and simply expect and assume people to understand our gabbling. What absurd arrogance and complacency! Still, this doesn’t mean that foreign attempts to post instructions in official English always work – there can be hilarious linguistic accidents. Thankfully for the family, the conference hotel has a swimming pool. So here are a couple of quotes from the swimming pool signs:
- The usage of the towel on the sauna’s desk and the showering before the usage of the sauna is binding.
- Fordouching and leg washing are binding before bathing.
Well, there you are – now you know.
The first night’s plenary was given by Martin Haizmann, who is the European Regional Secretary for IFES and who lives in Germany. He was able to give a very helpful overview of the state of things Christian around Europe. And of course, a phrase that often springs to mind when thinking and speaking of the scene is that it is hard soil. We are often reminded that we live in a post-Christian society, riddled with the assumptions of the enlightenment but at the same time, doubting the optimism those assumptions bring. But there is something we must remember as well, something that an old pastor passed onto Martin when he first started out in ministry.
The hardest soil is not to be found in the harvest field before us, but in our very own hard hearts. Remember God had a harder job getting Jonah to Nineveh than he did getting Nineveh to repent.