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March 08, 2017
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Update from Carlton Deal, Jr. - Serve the City, Brussels
December 04, 2015
Begin forwarded message (photos have been omitted):

From: Shannon Deal
Date: December 4, 2015 at 5:38:47 AM EST
To: Subject: European Political Leaders Gather for Prayer in a Parliament Under Threat

Dear praying friend:

Thanks be to God! With a lot of courage, almost 400 European leaders gathered in Brussels on 1-2 December for the European Prayer Breakfast! We had great difficulty in the run-up to this event, trying to decide if it was safe to go forward, considering the risk of terrorist attacks in Belgium.

But our team, and the Members of Parliament that we serve, were all of one mind - now, more than ever, we must gather for prayer in the Name of Jesus in the European Parliament. We had to make a special appeal to the President of Parliament, who is an atheist, to make an exception and allow more than 100 guests to gather for an event - the normal restriction at alert level 3. He agreed, and our team worked harder than ever to make this possible. Thank you for your prayers!

Below, you can see the 18th Annual European Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday 2 December, gathering by faith inside the European Parliament in spite of the elevated terror alert. 285 guests from more than 20 countries in Europe came together to pray in the Name of Jesus. Due to increased security measures in the Parliament, 100 guests were in an overflow location with a live video feed. Our theme was 'For Where Two or Three Gather Together as My Followers, I am There Among Them.’ (Jesus, Matthew 18:20 NLT). Our two speakers were a former Member of Parliament from Denmark, and a current Member of Parliament from Romania - who is also helping us start Serve the City Romania. In this photo, Jerzy Buzek, former Prime Minister of Poland, is leading the Opening Prayer.

Following the Prayer Breakfast, there was a Panel Discussion to apply the principles of Jesus to the Syrian refugee crisis [pictured below]. The Panel Discussion was moderated by Davor Stier, a Member of European Parliament from Croatia. Speakers included Mark Siljander, a former US Congressman, author of ‘A Deadly Misunderstanding,’ Friederich Bokern, the Founder and Director of Relief and Reconciliation for Syria, and two refugees who are applying for asylum in Belgium. Lois, one of the leaders of The Well worship expression in our neighborhood who is very active with local refugees through Serve the City, recommended an Iraqi man and a Syrian man to the panel. They told their heartbreaking story of families members who were killed, saying tearful goodbyes to everything they loved in Iraq and Syria, risking their lives to travel across Europe, now living in refugee centers and receiving only one euro a day from the Belgian government. We considered a challenging question from Jesus for Europe: what does ‘love your neighbor’ mean now?

120 people attended the Closing Lunch, moderated by Branislav Skripek, Member of European Parliament from Slovakia. Branislav was the first guest in our new flat in Schaerbeek. We had the opportunity to pray together with him, giving thanks to God for its provision, and asking God to send His Spirit to meet people where they are as they come and spend time with us. In this photo, Branislav is standing next to his taller and more politically experienced colleague, Alojz Peterle, the first Prime Minister of an independent democratic Slovenia. Shannon and I have walked the streets of Ljubljana with Alojz, which was probably something like following George Washington around his capitol in the early years of the US. Alojz is the Convener of the European Prayer Breakfast, meaning that my principle role in coordinating the EPB is to serve him. He is a dear friend, a deeply devoted follower of Jesus, and never without his harmonica. Alojz is running for President of European Parliament next year. Please pray for him. If elected, he would serve a two and a half year term and we would have unprecedented opportunities for influence for Jesus during that time. 

In the picture below on my right is Lois, one of the leaders of our Schaerbeek neighborhood cluster that I referred to earlier. She knows Mohammed, on the far left, who is from Algeria, now a Belgian citizen. He has a university degree, but works in Belgium as a cleaner. Mohammed has been working tirelessly with the Iraqi and Syrian refugees, with the help of Nacera, the lady on his right, also from Algeria. Nacera was the Arabic-English interpreter on the Panel Discussion for our two refugee friends, pictured here in the center. I asked Nacera at the end of the Prayer Breakfast events, ‘Is this the most ‘Christian' environment you have ever been in?" "Oh yes, absolutely,” she said. "So how was it?" I asked. "Very heartwarming, thank you," she replied.

In the front with a big smile is Mohammed, a journalist from Syria. His father was killed when the mosque in his village was bombed by Assad. He has been on the run ever since, enduring horrific conditions as he waits to make a new life in Belgium. He has a big story to tell and we are trying to gather an audience to listen to him for as long as he needs to talk. In the back, on my left, is Ahmed, from Mosul, Iraq. He is a University professor for calligraphy, which is the only art that some strands of Islam allows. In fact, he does much more than calligraphy - he showed us on his phone beautiful works of art he had to leave behind in Iraq after ISIS took Mosul and demanded that he write very conservative curriculum for students from the perspective that all art is sinful. He refused, and learned that the two before him who refused had been killed. He and his family of 12 left as quickly as they could and now they are waiting in Turkey while he applies for asylum in Belgium. With a friend from a church in Portland, I approached Ahmed to ask if he would create artistic works of art in Arabic so that we who are not Arabic speakers can see some of the beauty of their culture, to guard our hearts from prejudice. We asked him to write verses of Scripture, from Psalms and the Gospels, with English text below. He happily agreed and we are trying to provide him the materials to do this. If you have a favorite verse of Scripture from Psalms or the Gospels that you would like to have him draw, please let us know.

We pray with European leaders, serve the poor, and plant church-planting churches in Brussels and beyond. On a week like this all these things converge. We still have two big events this weekend - our once a month Serve the City day, which will gather 100 or more volunteers to serve the poor, and our Christmas All Well, the once a month opportunity for all expressions of The Well to gather for worship. Please pray for Jesus to reveal His truth and grace in the capitol of Europe - to refugees, to volunteers, to His disciples who are making disciples.

Thank you for your prayers! Thank you for your support! Can we invite you to consider a year-end gift? We are so grateful to be in this together, for the glory of God.

By faith, with love and hope
Carlton and Shannon

For financial support http://christianassociates.org/donor-resource-center/

Please make checks payable to “CAI” and send to:
Christian Associates International
PO Box 2489
Monument, CO 80132