The eastern european countries’ “Pastors’ Conference”—a congress on evangelism held recently in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia—could signal new courage for Christian vitalities in lands under Soviet influence. Participants came not only from Yugoslavia, the only Eastern nation permitting Christian workers to attend the 1966 World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin, but also from Poland, Romania, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, which had refused visas to pastors invited to Berlin. Once again, however, no representation was permitted from Russia, East Germany, and Bulgaria, where hostility to such Christion engagement runs deep, nor from Albania, where the present condition of the churches is unsure.
East European participants numbered more than 130, exceeding by scores the sponsoring committee’s minimal expectation. Not only did Yugoslav authorities not interfere with program planning and execution, but they were gracious to program participants. Many of the conferees are pastors of local churches; others are engaged in itinerant work and a wide diversity of evangelical efforts, some are professional men, and not a few are university or seminary students. Observers also came from Austria, West Germany, France, Switzerland, and Holland.
Major messages fell to Dr. Stephen Olford, pastor of New York’s Calvary Baptist Church, and to me. In Sunday church services before the congress opened, more than a score of first-time decisions for Christ were made in services we conducted in Belgrade and in Backi Petrovac; others also responded to opportunities for spiritual renewal and vocational commitment. During the congress, Dr. Olford covered pastoral and experiential concerns, while theological issues came my way. Translations were into eight languages. ...1
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