I just returned from my ministry trip to Interlakken, Switzerland, where I shared a week with pastors and lay leaders from all over greater Europe.
The International Baptist Convention (IBC) is a fellowship of English-language churches and missions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America which voluntarily cooperate with each other for the purpose of carrying out the Great Commission of Jesus Christ found in Matthew 28:18-20. The convention is comprised of more than 70 English-language churches and missions located in 27 countries. They are mostly smaller, rural churches that were originally built up around military communities in foreign countries.
I had been asked to speak to this group by Mason Smith, who I met while traveling the creative ministries circuit back in the late 90s. Mason went on to pastor and then followed a call to serve a church in Germany, which was part of the IBC. He coordinated the national conference for the convention this year. I led conferences and training seminars on creative communications and was the speaker for morning devotions. While it sounds like a stretch to say I went on a mission trip to Switzerland, I can testify that is exactly where God wanted to be. Here’s a few of the emails I’ve received since I returned:
“Hello, Jeff, Thanks again for the fresh look at a new way to share the gospel message. I was both inspired and motivated to bring it to our church in Italy. Keep up the good work, and God bless you and all of yours! " Sam Owens, Pastor, Aviano Baptist Church, Aviano, Italy
“Thank you for the script!!! (Feeding of the 5,000) I still have your beat in mind. I woke the last days up with songs in my head. You do a wonderful work. I will use whatever I got from you.” Franziska Kirschner, Germany
“We thank YOU for coming to be with us. Your "different" kind of ministry was different in all the best ways. You were a real encouragement.” Jimmy Martin, President, IBC
“Thanks so much Jeff. You blessed us all this week.” Scott Chadwick, Bulgaria
“Thanks for all you taught us while in Interlaken. What an awesome ministry God has favored you with. Looking forward to worshipping with you again.” Deloris Keuvelaa
These pastors have unique and special challenges as pastors of multicultural churches. Many of them are not paid by the churches they serve, and they raise their own support to serve in these mission fields. Stories of refugees, trafficking, and political turmoil surrounding their countries were common themes as I talked to them about their experiences. Their testimonies of God’s faithfulness blessed and inspired me. Many people had received hope, comfort, and salvation in Jesus Christ from their ministries and it was a blessing to pour into their lives for a week.
I was hoping to share pictures with you from the trip, but when I transferred them from my phone to my computer, I lost them all.
Not only was I able to make the trip and share in this ministry, I was able to give away resources and discounted materials to help these pastors do the things I showed and taught them during the week. I was able to invest all the money you gave me to their work in greater Europe. The classes I taught were well attended and enthusiastic. My students were anxious to go back and incorporate what they learned into their churches.