It was a warm day at Welwyn village, its streets filled themselves with smiling, familiar faces. As we made our way into Guessens’ big garden with the lovely tree in the middle, we shared lunch with others. It was a lovely warm day but with a sad tone, especially for former students like us, for it would be the last graduation of the European Mission Fellowship (EMF) School of Biblical Studies.
This would be the last year to have spent six months sharing the 13th-century house — in fact, the last of 55 intakes of students. Welwyn Evangelical Church witnessed their graduation, with approximately 300 people who worshipped together. The students came from Greece, Portugal, England, Romania, Germany, Russia and Spain. Some of them are to become EMF missionaries themselves, some others youth workers and others are still waiting for direction.
After this we had time for a coffee break in which we were able to catch up with old friends from EMF. Then we went back to Welwyn Church for the thanksgiving service. This was a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, as students from the five decades spoke about their time at the school, how their studies have shaped the ministry they are involved in and what the future holds for them. My husband David and I had the privilege to share our memories, encouragements and hopes for the future. After we testified, David Cassells gave a moving speech from the lecturers’ point of view; some of us were almost in tears!
The service finished with a heartening message from Martin Leech, focused on Hebrews 12:1-2. It was a message of hope, joy and perseverance: just what we needed to hear. The day finished with a delicious BBQ at Guessens (with German sausages, of course, reflecting the international element of EMF) and we were able to spend time with those we know so well and with whom we have shared so much. The day finished up even warmer as our hearts were left glowing with hope in the Lord and his plans for EMF.