Lizzie Francis and Rick van de Ven
On Thursday 8th December 2016, ECPYouth organized a Youth prayer breakfast in the European Parliament. We were joined by political youth from a wide variety of European countries, and the theme of the event was “polarization”, portrayed by Brexit, refugee-discussions, and the rise of right-wing movements in Europe. It was a great joy to stand against polarization with believers in Jesus Christ from Europe and pray for unity and peace in our home countries and in European politics. We were reminded of the words of Jesus from Matthew 18:20 that “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them” – gathering together and praying is not just a powerful statement to those around us about where our hope and trust lie, but it actually purposefully invites the Lord into our midst.
We were honoured to have the event hosted by MEP Branislav Škripek, and have Christel Ngnambi (European Evangelical Alliance) and Guido van Beusekom (ECPM) speak to us, as well as the worship band eSPé (Slovakia) come to lead worship. Christel Ngnambi gave us four practical actions to take away:
- Co-belligerence. There is strength in unity so let’s fight the fight for the Lord and for His principles together.
- Intergenerational. It is great to be able to seek the counsel and wisdom from those who are more mature in the faith and can work with us to advance the gospel further.
- Intermodal. As a European political network, we have the benefit of being able to work for the mission of the gospel and Christian principles in politics with people from a range of different backgrounds and nationalities.
- Intentional. In order to be effective in the Christian mission, we need to make spending time with God the priority. Being equipped comes from intentionally taking more time out with God.
Below is a blog post written by Rick van de Ven, from the Netherlands, about the theme of polarization as thought about at the Prayer breakfast. He is an active member of local politics in his home country, and an active member of ECPYouth.
“The word polarization is heard quite often these days when we speak about Europe. Migration crisis, violence between different ethnic groups and radical expressions of Donald Trump do add to the current debate that is going on in Europe. However, there are some aspects that will give a more positive view on the current situation. First of all, it’s not the first time that Europe is facing polarization when we take a trip back memory lane. We had tough times before in which we did not always understand each other, but it did also result in positive outcomes such as the founding of the European Union. So we should aim to find a common ground and collaborate instead of distantiate. Secondly, we are born in a globalized world in which we can easily encounter different viewpoints and people. Instead of closing the bounders and highlighting the differences, we can open up ourselves for positive ideas and share our view on aspects that we disagree with. There is nothing wrong with a good debate, but the debate should be held in a reasonable manner. Sometimes we might hear an opinion that is quite confronting for us, but can we also see the person behind the opinion? Thirdly, when we take a look into the Bible we see similar situations in which different groups didn’t understand each other. The Bible gives several clues how we can improve our understanding of people and ideas. The story of the Samaritan women at the well is an interesting case, in which Jesus did cross cultural boundaries and reached out to a woman in need. As a result of his behaviour her life changed drastically. Not only her life changed, it was mentioned that the whole village was transformed. This shows that as Christians we can overcome cultural differences and bring unity and transformation in Europe.”