Technology changes, information explosion, content saturation, business globalization and the migration of languages and cultures throughout the world—it’s obvious the world is changing at a rapid rate. Many organizations and ministries are grappling with how to deal with the challenges these changes present, but also how to use the opportunities these changes offer. Emmaus International is no exception. We are asking the question: how can we overcome obstacles and use modern technology, new communication methods, and a global perspective to bring the message of the gospel and the truth of God’s Word to new people and places? Our Global Strategy Conference came at just the right time.
The meeting of Emmaus International’s fourth Global Strategy Conference opened up doors of international partnership, collaboration, and support never before seen in the history of our organization. By many measures, this is a new era for the ministry of Emmaus International. It is thrilling to see the Lord at work to preserve the ministry of Emmaus for the next generation; we praise Him for what He’s done already and cannot wait to see what doors He will open next.
The conference met in Germany from Tuesday night to Saturday morning, June 19-23, 2018. This was the third time the event was held at Hohegrete, a Christian retreat center near Cologne. Tucked away in the sprawling countryside and rolling hills of western Germany, it was an ideal spot for intensely focused planning, as well as the revitalizing fellowship that occurred at the conference.
On Tuesday, over thirty Emmaus directors and partners arrived, flying in from all over the world: Australia, Colombia, India, Korea, South Africa, and more. Many partners from Europe attended as well. The conference was hosted by members of Zentralafrika Mission (ZAM), an organization that does an incredible amount of work with Emmaus courses in Africa and ex-Soviet Asia. From the US home office, Jim Fleming (Global Director) was joined by Terry Wilson (Executive Director), Ben Kerns (North American Director), and Jesse Fullan (Director of Publications & Communications).
Before the conference, the US team, joined by several partners from ZAM and their lead developer, convened the first in-person meeting of the Digital Project Team, to discuss strategy regarding the development and release of the new Emmaus smartphone app. More on this later.
The conference began Tuesday night, with a welcome and introductions by Terry Wilson, a ministry update from Jim Fleming, and a devotion from Luke 24 by Ben Kerns.
Wednesday really kicked off the conference. Terry presented on the state of the ministry, providing our international partners with an updated look at our current identity and our mission, vision, and values. Ben shared the Emmaus Road, our new 24-course curriculum designed to give the student a fuller understanding of the Word of God, the Person of Jesus Christ, and the transforming power of knowing Him. Jesse presented the new Emmaus International logo and brand identity, and gave an introduction to how we can effectively promote our brand globally. That was just the morning! Lunchtime was filled with conversation surrounding the morning presentations. There were a lot of questions, but the general outcome was excitement to join together as partners in a global work.
The afternoon was even more thrilling and groundbreaking for the Emmaus world. The Digital Project Team presented the need for a strong digital presence globally, and laid out the vision and projected timeline for the newly developed Emmaus Bible Courses app. The app will contain our course content (working towards supporting the Emmaus Road curriculum), and will be available around the world in as many languages as possible. The Emmaus Bible Courses app is currently live in app stores with some courses in a number of languages, but we will continue to develop, grow, and improve the app over the coming years.
The “buzz” around the smartphone app and the new Emmaus Road curriculum carried throughout the entire week. The opportunities for ministry through the app are immense, including cross-language evangelism and discipleship. The app was originally conceptualized to reach Arab refugees in Europe, but it will also greatly impact countries with a high concentration of mobile users, countries with a poor mail system, or others where there are security concerns that don’t allow print courses.
Thursday and Friday were filled with encouraging ministry updates from the many countries represented. It was wonderful to hear how the Lord is working through our partners around the world. ZAM presented the “train the trainer” model that has produced massive growth in many African countries; this was inspiring to everyone present. Emmaus Australia gave a presentation on their new “Equip” program that several churches have adopted which walks people through a series of Emmaus courses together. Emmaus India gave a presentation on the complexity of working in a country with so many language groups, but also the creative and unique ways theyplan to reach the Indian population with Emmaus courses. Emmaus South Africa laid out their 10-year plan for growth, which was a challenge to us all to dream big and ask the Lord to provide vision for our ministry. Emmaus Colombia also shared their strategies for growth, and the corresponding needs we could all pray for. There were many other updates, including ones we can’t share due to their sensitive location in the world. Throughout the week, there were challenging and inspiring devotions, times of prayer, and worship through song.
On Friday night, ZAM generously provided a group scenic tour of the nearby city of Bonn, which included a ferry trip on the Rhine, a tram ride, two castle visits, and dinner overlooking the city. It was a wonderful wrap-up to the conference, and solidified the spirit of unity and collaboration among the Emmaus global partners.
In summary, we were blown away by the outcome of our fourth Global Strategy Conference. We are extremely grateful to our partners who made the trip; they serve as inspiration to us in both method and motivation. We are thankful particularly to ZAM, who hosted us all so graciously, and helped fuel the visionary brainstorming that happened at the conference. Most of all, we’re grateful to the Lord for His kindness to lead and guide our ministry.
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