“To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations” (James 1:1).
That’s the way James begins his powerful little book. The apostle wrote to encourage God’s people and to spur them on to renewed service.
That’s exactly why European Summer Quarter is so important. WELS has a dozen sister synods in Europe. The brothers and sisters in these small church bodies are often scattered. Congregations tend to be small. It’s easy to feel isolated. Two weeks of Bible study and fellowship can lift spirits for healthy ministry.
This year twelve pastors, seminary students, and church leaders gathered at St. Mark’s congregation in Ljungby, Sweden. These representatives from seven different countries came to dig deeper into God’s word, to grow in personal faith, and rededicate their hearts to service. During the first week, Pastor Holger Weiss, from Germany, led a course on Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus. In these letters the Holy Spirit speaks especially to pastors:
- Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction (2 Timothy 4:2),
- And the things you have heard me say … entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2)
- For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).
During the second week, Missionary Luke Wolfgramm led practical meditations on the life and ministry of Elijah. Participants came to appreciate James’ observation: “Elijah was a man just like us” (James 5:2). God’s great prophet faced temptations and struggles remarkably similar to contemporary pressures in post-Christian Europe. Nevertheless, the unchanging LORD equipped Elijah to serve his 7,000 elect. The same mighty God remains faithful to his people today.
Everyone enjoyed the studies, but nothing can compete with the fellowship participants enjoyed outside of class time. Evenings and weekends gave plenty of opportunity for discussions, collaboration, and mutual encouragement. Members of St. Mark’s congregation also enjoyed Sunday sermons from three guest preachers during Summer Quarter.
Hearty spiritual food and unhurried contact with brothers and sisters strengthens European fellowship and reinvigorates zeal to proclaim Christ. Please pray that God would continue to bless pastors and people through ongoing Bible study together.
Written by Rev. Luke Wolfgramm, world missionary on the Europe One Team, based in Leipzig, Germany.
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