Missionaries invited to NATO headquarters

Nearly 50 missionaries of the Belgium Brussels Mission were invited to the headquarters of NATO here July 10 for a day-long meeting, where they learned something of the historic role that the 16-nation Alliance has played in Europe since World War II.

Drawing a comparison between NATO and the missionaries, Col. Leif Sponbeck, a member of the Brussels stake high council and special military assistant to the U.S. ambassador, noted that the military ambassadors of NATO are working for peace, just as the missionaries of the Belgium Brussels Mission are spiritual ambassadors of the "Prince of Peace."The Brussels missionaries, along with their mission president, H. Ray Hart and his wife, Joanne, were invited to NATO headquarters by Col. Sponbeck.

Missionaries listened to a presentation by U.S. Air Force Col. Larry Brough, and participated in a panel discussion with newly appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary Gen. Keith Gardner. Both are members of the Church. They emphasized the similarities between the peace-keeping purposes of NATO and the missionary message of peace.

The missionaries were greeted that morning by Lt. Gen. Nicholas B. Kehoe, deputy chairman of the North Atlantic Military Committee, who gave a historical perspective of NATO and explained how the current role of the Alliance is evolving from defender to peace keeper.

"We want to promote cooperation, reconciliation and create an incentive to sustain peace and stability . . . so nations can grow economically and become prosperous," he said.

NATO, founded in 1949, has kept the peace in Western Europe for nearly 50 years, the longest period of peace since Roman times, Gen. Kehoe said, emphasizing that NATO's provision of collective defense has been a key factor in preventing conflict.

Pres. Hart said, "It's been an honor to bring our missionaries to NATO today to find our purposes are very similar, to bring peace, trust and understanding - for nations [and] for families."

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