Although there were many very active African Enterprise supporters and volunteers based in Europe, and a Board was formed at the beginning of 2001, it was not until 2003 that a formal Support Office opened in Brussels, Belgium, under the leadership of Lynn Nwagbara.
This came about following a Leadership Mission carried out by Michael Cassidy in November 2000, organised by the three main English-speaking churches in Brussels at the time: Holy Trinity Brussels, St Paul’s Tervuren and the Christian Center. Michael was accompanied by Jamie Morrison, who was his Personal Assistant at the time, and Emmanuel Kopwe, Director of Reconciliation Ministries, as well as his sister Olave Snelling, an African Enterprise UK Board Member.
African Enterprise Belgium changed its name to African Enterprise Europe in 2013 as it became increasingly involved in working in other European countries. Today the European Support Office actively seeks to fundraise in Belgium, France, Germany, Holland and Switzerland.
As we have said, although there were no formal African Enterprise Support Offices in Europe until 2003, there were groups of volunteers in different countries:
Switzerland: Following the Lausanne Congress in 1974, Guy Chautems led a fundraising committee for African Enterprise for many years. Guy visited the teams in Africa on many occasions over the years. This was taken up by Sylvie Annen until the early-2000s when the running of it was taken over by African Enterprise Belgium. Sylvie still visits the teams in Africa from time to time.
Germany: This group of volunteers was led by a committee under the Protestant Church of Germany (Lutheran) until the mid-2000s. Former committee members included Ernst Luedemann and Ulrich Parzany. As the tax situation changed in Germany so the contributions to African Enterprise began to diminish and stopped around 2008. African Enterprise Europe is currently trying to break new ground and rebuild a support base in Germany. Kindernothilfe (German for “Supporting children in need”) now gives a lot of support to the African Enterprise team in Rwanda.
Norway: Over a number of years several Norwegian organisations supported the African Enterprise ministry and in particular the reconciliation ministry in Burundi and training ministry in various East African countries. Knud Jorgensen was a member at large of the African Enterprise International Partnership Board until 2005.
The Netherlands: There was never any formal fundraising committee in the Netherlands but rather individual supporters and a couple of organisations who supported African Enterprise. Help a Child continues to support ministry in Rwanda and Uganda.
Lynn Nwagbara, Director of African Enterprise Europe, recalls some memorable moments over the years:
“In 2001, two members from our African Enterprise Rwanda team, plus Rhiannon Lloyd, came to Brussels to lead a Healing and Reconciliation Seminar to the Rwandese refugees in Brussels. I was on holiday during that time and came back just as the seminar finished to discover that Anastase Sabumungu of Rwanda was seriously ill and had ended up in one of the local hospitals with a bleeding stomach ulcer. For a couple of days we were not sure that he would make it but finally he responded to treatment and began to get better. I sat at his bedside in the hospital amazed at how he continued ministering to his compatriots as they came in to visit him, encouraging them to lay aside their own hurts and bitterness, to accept each other and move on. The Lord used his illness to move the reconciliation ministry forward in Brussels.”
“In October 2013, during an evangelistic mission to Charleroi with Stephen Lungu, one evening some local gang members recognised Stephen (from the posters put up around town) in our car on the way to the venue where he was speaking. They followed us there. They came in and heard Stephen’s testimony and one of them committed his life to the Lord.”
“On another occasion Stephen Lungu and I were driving with a GPS (Sat Nav) in Holland and suddenly we were told ‘You have arrived at your final destination.’ only to find ourselves parked in front of the local cemetery! Stephen roared with laughter and said he wasn’t quite ready for that yet!”
“Another time, again with the GPS, we were driving across the Vosges Mountains in France, only to discover we were at the top of the mountain with a dead end in front of us and no possibility of going down the other side. We could see the town we wanted to be in at the bottom of the mountain! So we had to turn around, go back down and then up and across the next mountain – quite a detour!”