Earlier this year, staff members from across Word of Life Europe gathered in Budapest, Hungary for their third all-staff retreat. This was the first time in four years this retreat has taken place due to COVID restrictions. 285 staff members from 16 European countries attended the retreat for a time of fellowship, encouragement, and stories of what God is doing all across Europe.
The missionaries and staff of Word of Life Europe serve through camps, open air evangelism, youth clubs, drama ministry, discipleship training, and the Hungary Bible Institute. Each of the 16 countries has a unified but unique ministry based on local culture and number of staff.
Staff Retreat: Together, Forward
In previous years, the recurring theme for this staff retreat was “Together.” It seemed fitting to continue this trend, especially as the team prepared to gather for the first time in this way since the pandemic. This year, however, a new depth was added to the theme. In light of Alex Konya’s retirement, the former Regional Director of Word of Life Europe suggested the theme of “Together, Forward” as a way to encourage staff in unity and action in their new administration.
The retreat included teaching sessions from Don Lough, Kris Stout, Alex Konya, and Ryan Williamson, as well as time to share updates from the field, fellowship with old and new friends, and opportunities to be refreshed alongside others in ministry.
A fun, new aspect of this year’s retreat was that children were invited to attend with their families. Though there was no formal program for the kids, the change was extremely well received. Families set aside time to pray for one another and share the joys and burdens of life in ministry together.
Gospel Connections in Europe
Word of Life Europe certainly is growing in how they move forward together. The countries are categorized into Eastern, Central, and Western zones, but they still regularly interact with one another. This particular all-staff retreat typically happens every three years, with the “off” years alternating between the World Leadership Conference and director family gatherings.
Gábor Csikós, one of the main coordinators of this event, shared that one of the retreat attendees said a highlight for them was “short conversations in the elevators.” While there is great value in workshops, training, and the like, the highest benefit at these gatherings is often simply connection. Full-time vocational ministry can be challenging, whether you are living in your country of origin or across the world. The chance to connect with another family or individual who understands those unique needs is highly valuable, and that is exactly why the staff retreat exists.
Never Alone in Ministry
Seeing the faith of others builds our own. Hearing how God answers prayers around the world reminds us He is still at work. Whether we are surrounded by a team and ministry is our job, or we are simply living day to day trying to make Jesus known in our own home, we all benefit when we remember we are not alone in living out the calling God has placed on our lives.
We can be encouraged as we remember God is always moving – even in places we will never see firsthand. He is moving in us and through us as we move forward in His call, together.
- Pray for each staff member who attended the all-staff retreat, that God would continue to encourage them through the conversations, teaching, and fellowship they experienced at the event.
- Pray that Word of Life staff members would have wisdom and creativity as they share the hope of Jesus within their unique cultural contexts.
- Pray that many would hear and respond to the gospel through the efforts of the Word of Life team in Europe.
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