Living Among Those We Minister ToEurope
IMPOSSIBLE. This one word is our answer to whether our family’s mission could be casually accomplished without being embedded among the people we serve. We make our home in the so-called “four-country corner” where Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland meet. Our goal is to plant the church in German-speaking Europe, and for us, the only option is to live among the people.
This may not seem like a revolutionary idea since missionaries have always left their homelands and traveled to faraway lands to preach the gospel. The first step is going, but subsequent steps involve losing one’s identity as an American and fully integrating in a new context. This isn’t just a ministry strategy for our family; it's a way of life. For our daughter, central Europe is home, and the United States is a place we visit once in a while.
Church planting is not something one does remotely. Our God—who modeled incarnation—expects us to live amongst the people we minister to. Using this model, we have been able to present the gospel to individuals within universities, governments, and royal households.
Being culturally savvy and not relying on our American worldview has opened many doors for us. We recommend a radical approach: investing a decade primarily in learning language and minimizing social contact with English-speakers. The uncomfortable reality is that it takes intense focus and discipline to dismantle one’s lifelong worldview, presuppositions, and hero mentality of missions. Losing oneself for the sake of Jesus and the gospel is worth it.
Living among the people we serve is one of the keys to our ministry. Instead of viewing people as targets of proselytization or subjects of our latest newsletter, we believe these are our people. And in our more than 25 years living here, we are now seeing the greatest openness toward the gospel.