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Esteeming our heritage

WINSTON CHURCHILL ONCE SAID: “WHEN ONE GENERATION NO LONGER ESTEEMS ITS OWN HERITAGE AND FAILS TO PASS THE TORCH TO ITS CHILDREN, IT IS SAYING IN ESSENCE THAT THE VERY FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLES AND EXPERIENCES THAT MAKE THE SOCIETY WHAT IT IS ARE NO LONGER VALID‚Ķ”

Churchill continued: “What is required when this happens and the society has lost its way is for leaders to arise who have not forgotten the discarded legacy and who love it with all their hearts.”

Churchill himself was not an active church-goer. He described himself as ‘a flying buttress’ rather than as ‘a pillar of the church’, supporting from the outside! The heritage he esteemed, however, was largely indebted to Judeo-Christian roots.

Yet it is not only the politician’s task to ‘pass the torch’ to the next generation. We all share that responsibility. There are many signs that society today has ‘lost its way’. Our challenge is to rediscover the ‘discarded legacy’.

A year ago, part of the controversy about the EU Constitution proposal raging across the continent was the lack of any mention of God or of the Judeo-Christian foundations of European society.

That prompted my wife and me to host a two-week bus-trip through several European countries to learn about the significant legacy left by people and places representing the Christian heritage – in government, language, literature, economics, music, art, science, family and society. We called it a ‘Share the Heritage’ tour, its main goal being to encourage others to discover and then share the significance and the riches of this inheritance.

Starting in Amsterdam, we visited locations in Holland, learning about Boniface, Thomas a Kempis, Menno Simons, Comenius, the Pilgrim Fathers, Abraham Kuyper and others; then drove across Germany to Wittenberg and Herrnhut, discovering more about Luther, Bach, Zinzendorf and Comenius again; from there into the Czech Republic, stopping in Prague and Plzen, in the footsteps of John Hus and, yet again, Comenius, before finally ending up in Calvin’s Geneva via Zwingli’s Zurich. And here I’ve only mentioned half the stopovers.

What a total educational experience that turned out to be for our party of twenty-two! Olé-Christian, a Norwegian journalist, described it as trip of a lifetime. Prior to the start, everyone had received a cd-rom with four hours of teaching on the spread of Christianity and its influence in Europe. Then each day we briefed the group on what we would see and learn that day, before travelling to the location itself.

Often a local guide or a video would instruct us further in the historical background and contributions of the particular person, movement or place in question. Informal discussions and an onboard library of books, magazines and articles encouraged our learning process to continue en route. Each day closed with debriefing and reflection on what we had seen and learnt.

This year Romkje and I plan a similar trip, only this time beginning in Geneva on July 1, and finishing in Amsterdam on July 15. We stay primarily in YWAM centres, including Schloss Hurlach and the Wasserschloss, castles in Hurlach and Herrnhut respectively, and the beautiful Jugendstijl centre, Le Rüdli, in Einigen, Switzerland, overlooking the Thunnersee and the Bernese Alps.

Full details including price (under €1000, including food, transport and museum entry) will be available shortly but you can pre-register now with Jelly van der Wal (jwal@ywameurope.org) if you are interested. Space is limited to thirty participants, so let us know soon. Romkje and I would love to have you on board!

Till next week,

Jeff Fountain

p.s. Latest word on Belarus is that Sergey Shavtsov, the religious liberty lawyer jailed ten days ago for his role in organising an ‘unauthorised’ conference of Christian leaders will be released today. We hope and pray this will close the case. A new judge in the case of the re-registration of the House of Hope, YWAM’s youth rehabilitation programme just outside of Minsk, ruled in favour of its continuation. Praise God!

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