From 7-10 November 2019, 50 younger leaders and mentors from 20 nations met up in Athens, Greece, for the third Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG) under the Lausanne Movement (www.lausanne.org). It is the third of its kind after the global YLG in Jakarta 2016 where more than 800 younger leaders from 140 nations gathered.
In Europe, we invest into the 120 younger leaders who had attended the YLG 2016, but for the European gatherings any of the younger leaders in Europe are also invited who are passionate about seeing our continent have new encounters with God. From all spheres of influence. Reaching as many people as possible.
So in faith and with some trembling we went into organizing our third gathering. God surprised us. We had more people than we had initially thought and we were also so glad for some Greek visitors surprising us. We have had such a great time. The atmosphere was so appreciative, people felt welcome and included, multi-cultural friendships started or were renewed, one on one connections took place, refreshment in faith and healing for some. The participants gave us loads of positive feedback so we as a team are totally encouraged.
In the morning, we had Bible studies with the focus on God´s Kingdom. Jo Haaijer (Netherlands), the One Hope European director delivered them around background, identity, my place in God´s Kingdom and afterwards we met in connect groups, our small group system each with a mentor. These groups, where people can share some parts of their life story and get prayed for, were the absolute burner and got the highest marks in the evaluation.
We are so grateful for these incredible mentors who all flew in to serve these younger leaders and have expressed their commitment to join us in 2020 again. Stunning!
I am also so grateful for the team of younger leaders who prepared this gathering with me, most for the third time. So much fun, wisdom and open sharing in this group. Made of people from all across like Janet (Iceland, France), Darius (Germany), Kristian (Norway), Arne (Germany), Elizabeth (Cyprus), Philippe (France) and myself. Love these guys!
One afternoon we offered workshops where in smaller groups you would discuss a topic for an hour. This was brilliant. Johnathan Macris (Greece/US) shared on the refugee crisis and response, Helge Hollerud (Norway) on leadership and identity, Dave Jarsetz (Germany) on Christ-like leadership, Mark Orr (US/Greece) on being a spider or a starfish (leadership structure), Jo Haaijer (Netherlands) on strategic planning. A space to discuss and learn from each other in such a non-hierarchical structure is powerful and totally appropriate for such a bunch of great younger leaders who each bears responsibilities on various levels.
One leadership session for all was offered by Mark Orr on either being a CEO or a catalyst. The way he presented and framed it, was absolutely stirring and well received. He put words to what some of us feel and do but could not term it before. This caused great conversations.
The other afternoon we had a guided tour to downtown Athens walking where Apostle Paul walked. This was so enriching and fun at the same time.
Our evenings were focussed on Europe and praying for the needs of our continent. Sadly our booked speaker, Evert van de Poll, fell sick on the way to the airport so as a team we stepped in. It was absolutely amazing to see the engagement and together pray for our countries.
On Sunday we finished off with two senior leaders sharing their leadership nuggets with us and celebrated communion.
Some of the nuggets:
- Stay committed to God and his word of grace
- Live generational
- Bring people to Jesus and challenge them to do the same
- Be humble and do not overate your work
- Work together with Jesus and others
Next to the Europeans joining, for the first time we had people also join who are the new Europeans or serve as missionaries in Europe. People with the Brazilian background won! 🙂 We were also delighted to welcome a younger leader from Kenya who flew in all the way from Africa. She had been to YLG 2016. What a feast!
The location was simply wonderful for the soul, body and mind. Being near to the ocean got some people into going for a swim, but the hotel outdoor pool was also used. Especially as some already have snow at home, these 23 degrees in sunshine filled our tanks once again.
When we did our financial calculations we were missing just a bit. One of the younger leaders surprised me with a donation on my bank account as a thank you so I was able to pitch in for the rest. Wow, I was once again totally amazed that God is not only faithful but also provided.
We are now going ahead planning the next younger leaders gathering for 2020, from 19-22 November in Poland.