Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hungary, May '09

32 hours, 3 planes, a taxi, a train and a long hike later, I find myself in Eger, Hungary. The European Leadership Forum is what's brought me here. The ELF is a gathering of conservative evangelical pastors and ministry leaders from across eastern and western Europe. This is the 8th annual gathering of the forum, a grassroots network which has grown to include 500 leaders from 45 countries. The mission of the ELF is to serve as a "bridge between local leaders' needs and God's global resources". While the forum is primarily lead by European nationals, I have been invited by Scottish colleagues and friends, Mark and Jenny Stirling, to offer some of our Global Youth and Family Institute training at the forum. While there are tracks and seminars offered on apologetics, preaching, theology, counseling, art and culture, society and politics... they have not had any emphasis or opportunity for training in reaching the next generation. I have had a group of about 50 people participate in my training seminar, and 8 in a daily focus group. In addition, I have made many new contacts and had many conversations and opportunities to consult, pray with, and learn from people from a wide verity of cultures and contexts. Just today, Zoli (a Serbian pastor) and I spent time talking about the challenges he faces in shepherding an aging, simple village church while struggling to connect to the large yet unreached youth population in their community. There are no simple answers. But God has allowed us to wrestle and pray together. God is bigger, and he continues to humble me in light of his glory and the expanse of his kingdom. His love and passion for kids is greater far than ours. He is the divine Youth Pastor, and he will redeem his own from every nation. Thank you for your prayers and commitment to reaching the nations and the next generation.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Spain, April '09

We've just returned from Spain where we lead a team of 20 pastors and youth ministers to bring spiritual refreshment and renewal to 100 mission kids from all over Eastern and Western Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. MTW provides an Area Retreat for these 600 missionaries and their families once every 4 years. It's hard to put into words how important this retreat is to these servants and their kids. For many MKs this was a time to be known and poured into in a relevant and personal way--a way they rarely experience on the field. And for many, this retreat marked a significant moment in their walk with Christ. Here are some of their own words:

"I love hanging out with other MKs"

"The small groups and leaders were really awesome and the music too"

"I now have lots of friends"

"This was an awesome retreat - I never felt scared to share my thoughts"

"Thanks to the leaders, you guys rock!"

"Amazingly awesome!"

"The message was so appropriate for the stuggles of MKs"

"As an MK preparing for college it was helpful to hear from people who had already faced the transfer to a university"

"I liked the activities and the teachings on grace"

"Being reminded of God’s grace and how amazing it is no matter how messy e are was just what i needed"

"That we can hope for a time that all tears will be wiped away"

"While i face temptation and pain the only thing capable of overcoming these is a deeper more genuine faith than many ‘masked’ christians have"

"Even when you don't desire God he still desires you"

"That i am just as important as my mom and dad"

"That even though i am a kid i can still work for God"

"That no matter how far you run and push away. God isn’t going anywhere"

"That I am not alone in my struggles"

"God still loves us despite our failures"

"To take off my mask"

"That God loves Losers - because i sometimes feel like a loser"

"That there are many kids like me who understand what it's like to me an MK"

Thank you for investing in us as we invest ourselves in the lives of those growing up on the mission field. By God's grace, together we are seeing Kingdom impact!

In HIs Grip,

Eric and Rebecca Larsen

(Abby, Meghan, Natalie and Emma)

Abby, Meghan, Natalie, and Emma "hangin-out" at the terminal

100 middle, high school and college missionary kids worshipping and growing together

Emma's become an expert traveller

Larsen ladies in flight