September 2012 - Vol.  62

Empowering a Generation in Mission
an interview with Sam Geleyn
Intro: Kairos in Europe and the Middle East is an ecumenical missionary network of students and young people. Its main mission is to support young men and women leading Christian communities of students and young people within Europe and the Middle East. Kairos does this by facilitating a network, organising international gatherings, and providing supervision and leadership training. Kairos EME Newsletter recently interviewed Sam Gelyn, program director. Here are some of the highlights of that interview.
What was your background before joining Kairos in Europe and the Middle East (Kairos EME)?
I majored in commercial engineering, with a degree in economics from the University of Leuven in Belgium. 

What motivated you to switch from commercial engineering to working for Kairos EME and for Pharos, the university student outreach in Leuven, Belgium?
Well, Jamie Treadwell, one of the Kairos leaders at the time, invited me to do a Kairos GAP year of service and training in London. I prayed and thought about it Ė and it made sense to take a year out to do this. That year of training and service was hard but also exciting, and I didnít just want to have a one-year experience and then go on with the rest of my life. I came back to Belgium with a desire to develop our student outreach at the University of Leuven, an outreach we now call Pharos (which means Lighthouse). So thatís what I did when I returned from London.

Why does this work matter to you? Why do you keep doing it?
Ultimately I think it really matters when you see individual lives changed by the power of God. Since beginning this mission work I have had a few really tangible experiences where I can see how Iíve been cooperating with the Lord and with his grace. I can also see that this is the right place for me to serve and use my gifts. Itís an exciting thing to realise. 

How would you describe your role in Kairos?
I am the program director for Kairos EME. Iím responsible for designing and organizing our different programs and events, mainly our annual Kairos Weekend and our annual summer programs. [see full description of programs and events at Kairos EME website]

Kairos network in Europe and the Middle East

How do you build an outreach program from scratch?
I donít know! [laughs] I have to really depend on individuals being generous with their time and saying ďyes, I want to serve in Kairos where Iím needed.Ē We often have to change locations and set up different bases throughout Europe for each of our regional programs. I think thatís part of the strength of what we do: thereís high local ownership of Kairos and our programs. So how do we actually organize our programs? We look for people who are willing to serve and we try to give them vision for how Lord is calling them serve in our Kairos mission.

What do you love about your job?
I love working with individuals and seeing them take on new responsibilities. Seeing them do things and take on responsibilities which they didnít think they were capable of doing before is for me the most rewarding part of my job.

How do you train someone to serve in Kairos?
Training on the local level can vary a lot, depending on available resources. Our key training program is done regionally. Over the last few years weíve introduced the Student Worker Outreach Training (SWOT) weekends.  SWOT program involves 6 weekends of intensive training spread over a two year period Ė 3 weekends per year. Getting all of our leaders and student workers together three times a year gives us face-to-face contact points. That allows for stronger relationships and friendships to develop in the region. The weekends are designed to help win people to the vision of Kairos, and it also helps people gain a stronger sense of being in this mission work together.

What are some of your hopes for the future of Kairos in Europe and the Middle East?
Iím hoping that more and more individuals take on greater responsibility for our mission. In place of the regional level taking most of the initiative, it would be good to see more local outreaches and individuals that drive and shape our mission as well.

Any final reflections on Kairos?
I believe that here in Europe especially, the international dynamic of our mission work plays a key role in keeping us going Ė both locally and regionally. It certainly has been a motivating force for me Ė for keeping me going forward. The fact that we are part of an international network Ė a real bulwark of outreaches and communities Ė is a tremendous source of strength for us, especially here in Europe.

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