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18 May 2017 | Budapest, Hungary [Victor Hulbert] When four hundred leaders from sixty nations gather to discuss issues impacting children, women and families, you know there will be a buzz. Gathered at the Budapest Congress Centre in Hungary from 10-13 May, the International Leadership Conference was a first for the three Adventist World Church departments, who joined forces to deal with issues that are both inter-connected and critical for women, children and families.

While a World Church programme, the Conference was hosted in the Trans-European Division (TED) territory – to the delight of TED President, Raafat Kamal who has also highlighted these three areas as an important part of the strategic focus for the Division.

Robert translates for Hungarian ministerRobert Csizmadia translates for Hungarian Minister of State for Churches, Minorities and Civil Affairs. [Photos: Victor Hulbert]Tamás Ócsai, president of the Adventist church in Hungary was equally delighted. He saw how the conference impacted not just local members, but even the government, as Miklós Soltész, the Hungarian Minister of State for Churches, Minorities and Civil Affairs, shared a biblical emphasis with delegates. Soltész recognised the part that the Adventist church plays, along with other faith communities, in addressing societal challenges by sharing Christian values.

A full report of the Leadership Conference is available on the Adventist Review website, but a short video report by the TED Communication department highlights the impact the meetings have had on local delegates from across the Division.

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WillieElaine Oliver E.MuellerV.SantosWillie and Elaine Oliver, Ekkehardt Mueller and Virna Santos lead a discussion on parents, LGBT children and grace.Bulah Plunkett (North England Conference) and Marek Rakowski (Poland) both emphasised how blessed they had been in networking with leaders from across the world, sharing and discussing joint concerns and seeing how much they had in common. Rakowski was also very impressed by the grace-filled, solidly biblical, Thursday afternoon presentations regarding LGBT issues; particularly the need for parents to deal sensitively with children who express a need for ‘coming out’.

George Barna1George Barna shared statistically proven insights on child rearing in a world where the Christian world-view is no longer dominant.Every delegate was impressed with the world-renowned researcher and statistician, George Barna, who in two presentations shared very practical statistics that leaders and parents can use in guiding children towards a Christian life and spiritual maturity. “Outstanding,” was the single word used by TED Executive Secretary, Audrey Andersson, to describe the presentation. “It was worth coming if only for this… but there is so much more.”

Barna shocked his audience by sharing that only 4% of the age group 18 – 30, have what we would call a ‘biblical world view’. However, he gave hope, with plenty of tips and advice on how parents and religious organisations can still make a significant impact on their offspring and their community.

Kiti Freier Randall1Kiti Freier Randall [Photo: Tibor Farago]Equally impressive were the Friday morning presentations led by Kiti Freier Randall. Based at Loma Linda University Medical Centre, she is a highly experienced paediatric neurodevelopmental psychologist and professor who has committed her life to enhance the physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual lives of children and their families. 

“Although other supportive institutions in society play a role, it is in the family that nurture is effective and meaningful,” she stated. However, she lives very much in the real world and pointed out the challenges: health, diet, electronic gadgets, destructive life-styles and more, that can lead to dysfunctional families and broken children.

The Steps to Christ colouring bookThe Steps to Christ colouring book sold out at a very active Stanborough Press book display.In a hall buzzing with electronic gadgets, with a hundred mobile phones rising to capture each insightful PowerPoint slide or video, song or special item, she highlighted the immense research that has been done on the need to limit exposure to electronic media on young children – even the really intelligent ones! Far better to read a book or do some activity than to use even educational aps on a phone. “It is wrong when technology is raising our children,” she said. However, she was also very practical. “Don’t say ‘no’ to the not so good activities. Be positive and suggest a trip to the park or a family game instead.” 

Randall also strongly noted that bonding relationships are made during the first three years of life and if not successfully achieved will affect children right into adulthood. Even in the spiritual realm most choices for life have been made by age 13. A radical suggestion: Maybe we should be spending more on children and family outreach and less on mega-campaigns!

Breakout groups in the afternoon periods discussed issues of particular concern to families, children or women. 

Raafat Kamal leads Thursday morning worshipRaafat Kamal leads Thursday morning worship.It may have been early in the conference, by Raafat Kamal’s Thursday morning worship left a lasting impression, commented on by several speakers during subsequent meetings. His Christ-centred approach combined Jesus’ question to the disciples, “Who do you say I am,” with the discovery of the true picture of God made by reformers such as Luther. “I praise God that reformation goes on every day and every hour, it never ends. It is about crying to God, ‘help me, Lord, to rediscover Your will, Your truth, Your wisdom – help me to be like Jesus and to see the unseen with fresh spiritual eyes’.”

Delegates had some opportunity to explore Budapest, a stunningly beautiful city.That also led to his challenge. “Leaders, the local church will be a mission-driven church when its main focus is Jesus Christ. The teachings of Jesus, the love of Jesus, the relational dynamics of Jesus, and the practices of Jesus drive the local church. Mission is all about Him!”

Looking back on the conference, Karen Holford, TED Family Ministries director reflected that any event, any church, and family that works on strengthening positive relationships, that nurtures marriages and families, will help ‘create the loving village’ that we want our children to grow up in.

To find out more about the Conference, read the Adventist Review report or watch the plenary sessions online. [tedNEWS]


tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Esti Pujic, associate editor
119 St Peter's Street, St Albans, Herts, AL1 3EY, England
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Website: www.ted.adventist.org
tedNEWS is an information bulletin issued by the communication department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Trans-European Division.




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