Tblisi Mission Week Report

Apologies for the delay in posting the report from the mission week in Georgia.

 

Michael writes…

 

This was our second mission week in Georgia, and it was great to see how the local student group had built on the experience of the first one last year.  The IFES work in Georgia is relatively small, but it was good to see a small committed core involved in organising and praying for the week.

 

Normally in advance of such a mission we would try to get staff and students to come and experience a mission week in the UK and learn from the example here.  However, the difficulty of gaining visas for Georgians made this difficult.  Instead, one of their staff was able to visit a mission week in Ukraine  in the months building up to their mission, and they were able to learn from this experience instead.  It’s encouraging to see how the example of missions is no longer simply being modelled from the UK, but all over the Continent.

 

After the morning prayer meeting and a time of giving out flyers at different universities across the city, we had lunch bar talks at one of the universities.  This was a new idea from last year and worked particularly well.  From experience, we find that people are more likely to come to a lunchtime talk on campus than to an evening talk off campus.  It’s less of a commitment for those who are coming along for the first time.   The events always seemed to start quite late, and it was difficult to know why this was and whether it was just cultural.  At the advertised start time there would normally be no one in the venue but, eventually, sometimes 45 minutes to an hour later, the room would be relatively filled with a decent crowd willing to listen.  There were always a good number of questions after the talk.  Because of the late start to the lunchtime talk, there was often very little gap between that and the beginning of the evening event across a different side of the city.  Despite being fairly central, the venue was quite difficult to find and even some of the organisers weren’t sure where it was.  It was therefore unsurprising to find that the attendance at the evening events was much smaller but, thankfully, by the final night there were still a number of guests coming who had come to other events during the week.

 

It is difficult to gauge the exact response from the mission.  This is often the case when you are working in a different language as it’s harder to chat to the students and get a real sense of what they think about the talks.  It’s also more difficult in a culture where people regard themselves as Christian already, therefore using the terminology “becoming a Christian” is not always helpful.    However, it certainly seemed that people grew in their understanding of the Gospel and seemed to be warming towards faith in Christ.  We have discovered from experience that it often takes several years to build a good model of missions in a new culture  –  it doesn’t happen straightaway.  Therefore, this was a good learning experience, and we do hope that it continues to build and grow over the coming years.  It may well be that next year they are able to do a mission in one of the smaller cities.  Ironically, from experience, the capital is rarely the best place to pioneer missions.  It is easier to develop a good model in a smaller city where there are less geographical barriers, and where it is easier to communicate what is going on.

 

Do pray for the work of IFES in Georgia.  Pray that there would be lasting fruits from the efforts of the week, and that the work there continues to grow.

 

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