Wednesday, 21 March 2007

on Belgium

Thank you for your prayers for Belgium & the GBU. I'll try to summarise in bullet points.

Daniel and Ellen White took over as General Secretary & Assistant last summer. They are the only staff of the GBU & moved from Britain (together with their 2 young children) to serve the GBU.

God has done an amazing work through them (accompanied by the IFES team). Last year, student leaders would say, "We like GBU because we get to meet other Christian young people when there aren't any others in our church." This year, they were reporting on loving getting into the Bible & being transformed by it, being trained in Bible study & evangelism, and doing evangelism & being greatly encouraged in it. They now know the gospel and have real vision for reaching their fellow students with it. Praise God!

However, while recognising this, the GBU board have dismissed Daniel & Ellen for 'a difference in vision'. They agree on the gospel as outlined in the IFES doctrinal basis. They agree that we should concentrate on this and not pronounce on secondary things as a GBU. However Daniel thinks that he must help students apply the truths of the gospel, expressed in the DB, to every area of their lives. For example: if a student attends a church which denies the resurrection, or denies salvation by grace alone through faith alone, or the ultimate authority of the Scriptures, he would in the course of things help them to think through the implications of this, especially if they were GBU leaders. He believes that the application of truth includes the correction of error, and that this is not secondary.

This is clearly a distressing situation, most of all for the students in the GBU: they love Daniel & Ellen and have been helped enormously by their ministry.

At the GBU AGM on Saturday, the current board was dissolved because of this. On 22nd April an Extraordinary General Meeting will be held to elect a new board. That board could then chose to reinstate Daniel & Ellen.

Personally I have the impression that some run scared of losing the support of the main protestant denomination in Belgium - the state supported United Protestant Church. This denomination ranges from protestant-but-fuzzy, through new age ("notre Terre qui est aux cieux..."), through churches which deny the resurrection, to a few evangelicals hanging on in there as it's the best boat to fish from. As 'Protestant' is rather suspicious to start with in an ex-RC/'free thinking' country, "Evangelical" is considered really fringe and divisive - even amongst Christians. To a Belgian Christian, "Evangelical" is non-RC, non-Protestant, non-Pentecostal. Evangelicals, so much in the minority, tend to react with an overly exclusive and defensive attitude. So someone said, "You're going to hole the GBU up in a corner as fundamentalist Evangelicals..."

  • Please continue to pray for Daniel and Ellen, for the God-exalting ministry of evangelism, Bible teaching and student training that they do to continue, and for strength and grace for them.
  • Praise God at the encouragement from the students, for their growth in maturity in the gospel and its fruit, for their vision for evangelism and hunger for the word.
  • Praise God for the decisions of the AGM: it was sore and messy but it potentially preserves the evangelical vision of the GBU, shared with IFES throughout the world.
  • Please pray for the EGM of the 22nd April, that board would be elected committed to the gospel, its application and promulgation among students in Belgium. There are few potential candidates for this, and some want a more ecumenical direction to the GBU.
  • There are many hurting Christians because of this - a young & foreign Gen Sec & family whose future is uncertain, seeking to continue ministry while they may, IFES team leaders who stand with them & so are also uncertain of their future, ex-board members who thought they were working hard for the GBU. Whether or not they are right or wrong in this issue, they are brothers & sisters in Christ. Pray that the Holy Spirit would be at work in power in each to bring reconciliation, humility and correction, for the glory of his name, that outsiders looking in would glorify God.

I ask you to pray for them - I recommend praying through 2 Corinthians 4 for the situation.


The Clokester said...

Sad to hear Rosemary. I heard about this from CHris and was quite distressed that the national body is stuck in the middle of it all.

Anonymous said...

Any more news to post so we can pray intelligently before the EGM?

étrangère said...

Thanks Adrian, it's so encouraging to have your request for more info! The Whites sent a prayer letter recently which gives more info - I'll forward it to you if you want - email r[dot]grier[at]yahoo[dot]co[dot]uk if you want it. Basically the situation's even more complicated than I first reported, as the dismissal of the board wasn't with a 2/3 majority. Daniel & Ellen give more of the details of the whys & wherefores in their letter.