I grew up in what is now Zimbabwe. One of the formative things in my spiritual development was when, 10 years before independence, Scripture Union decided not to separate the work it was doing with Africans and Europeans. For me, as a teenager attending the equivalent of the ‘GO Conference’ it was mind-blowing to meet African young people with similar interests, hopes and concerns as I had.
Now, working for Scripture Union Scotland, 10% of my time is spent working with Scripture Union Europe. In this role, last November I attended the training course for new staff and key volunteers from across Europe. It was very interesting to watch people of different nationalities, coming from a background of mutual suspicion and animosity, and discovering that in Christ we are all one, that he has broken every barrier down. People from Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia and Kosovo, people from Slovakia and Czech Republic, people from Russia and various former Soviet countries. For many this was the first time that they had been in the same room as people from former enemy states and now having warm Christian fellowship and friendship with them was a thoroughly countercultural experience. As we sat at one meal-time, watching the animated conversations, listening to the range of languages being spoken, one German man said to me, ‘This is what heaven will be like - although there we will all understand each other without the need for translators!"
Written by Esther Bailey, Regional Worker, Scottish Borders & Children's Ministry Coordinator, SU Europe.