Montag, November 17, 2014

November update

Dear Friends,
Last weekend our Cologne Project church family gathered for a time of fun, fellowship and workshops with our speaker, James Ros, on what it means to be a church family. James is on the leadership team of the Consultation for Church Planting and has recently moved to former East Germany to plant churches there. In his loving and personal he quietly challenged us from Scripture to foster our passion for the local church.



The New Reformation Tour I co-hosted in October reminded me once again of the huge potential Germany has to influence the world. We visited Wittenberg, where Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church; Eisleben, where he was born; Erfuhrt, where he studied law and then theology after he decided to become a monk. We also made stops at Halle, whose sons include Georg Fredrick Händel and August Hermann Francke and at Fritzlar, where Bonifatius first brought the Gospel to the Germanic tribes. We visited Weimar, the home of Goethe and Schiller. We were reminded, however, that Germany also has the potential for horrendous evil as we visited the death camp Buchenwald, just outside of Weimar.

On the inside of the entry gate are the words Jedem das Seine which means "to each his own" or "to each what he deserves. This was the Nazi's twisted take on an old Greek principle of justice - considering it a justification for murdering so many people. Franz Ehrlich, the inmate who designed the gate was a German architect who had been arrested for being a communist. In a subtle act of resistance, he used a Bauhaus style font, knowing that the Nazis deplored the Bauhaus style and considered it to be decadent, intellectual Jewish trash.



Today Germany is a modern, tolerant Nation taking in thousands of refugees fleeing the atrocities in the Middle East. This is a good thing. However, Germany is a nation that has left its Christian roots. Only about 3% of the population attends any kind of church regularly. Most of the people I talk to on the street or at my atelier have never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. Germany needs to see a new reformation sweep across this land and beyond. If God does a mighty work in Germany, we firmly believe that this nation could be the catalyst for the spread of the Gospel throughout all of Europe and the world.  Please continue to pray with us to that end.

Also, please pray for C., a new church attender and member of our Thursday night small group.  Last Thursday she expressed the desire to really get to know God and experience him.  As we look forward to Thanksgiving, give thanks with us for how God is going to reveal himself in her life. 

Your missionaries,

Jason and Sue

Montag, August 04, 2014

August update 2014

Dear Friends,
I have been asking you to pray for the City Mentoring Program phase one group.  In May the 8-month training that I co-led came to an end. There were 10 participants - most of them students at the Bibleseminar Bonn (http://www.bsb-online.de). It is always encouraging for me to see how God works in the hearts of these young potential church planters as they wrestle with their calling. Here are a few of their comments at the final session.
 
Arthur: I'm leaving the course with double-courage. I want to ask unbelievers questions about their faith and to listen to them, get to know them deeper. I want to dare things for Jesus. 
 
Simon: I can see how the spiritual life of a church planter needs to find its source in Jesus. I want to be much more consistent in following Jesus and see His kingdom as the goal, in which he can use me.
 
Emilius: The course has opened my eyes to the subject of church planting. The practical examples of the missionaries were very valuable. I want to conduct demographic studies of my home country, Lithuania, and share what I have learned about church planting there.
 
Stefan: The course helped me to see what the church should be and how I can best serve God.
 
Fabiana: The course has challenged me to reach out to my neighbors.
 
Raphael: I am looking forward to my contact with non-Christians.

 

Pray for these young participants as they continue on their spiritual and ministry journey, that the Spirit would move and enable them for God's kingdom.
 
In mid July I was contacted by a friend of a friend who is working on a post-doctoral project that she is hoping will eventually be presented in several churches and museums in Cologne. The Pentateuch Project is a series of photo compositions inspired from scenes and events from the first 5 books of the Bible. She wanted to do a power point presentation of the project in order to garner more support. She asked if she could do it at my atelier and I agreed. The presentation was interesting. However, even more interesting was that the local catholic priest also attended with whom I have recently had contact in regard to renting a small church building in the area that is no longer used regularly for services for our church plant - Cologne Project. We had a very pleasant conversation after the presentation. Please pray that they would make the decision to rent to us. It would be a great location for our church plant to grow.
 
Please continue praying for the “Blue evening in Nippes”. Pray that we would be able to make many new contacts for the Gospel through this event on September 5th.
 
Thank your for your prayers for us in June as we spent three weeks visiting supporting churches and individuals in Ontario and Michigan.  Although the travel and schedule were exhausting, we were so encouraged by many of you; your hospitality, encouragement, support, genuine interest - for reminding us again of how much you share this ministry with us.
 
Yours for Germany,
Jason and Sue



Freitag, Mai 09, 2014

May update

Dear friends,
Following are a couple of stories from the Pastor’s Atelier:

In the Tuesday morning men’s prayer group we recently agreed to limit our personal sharing time and jump right into our theme. M**** gave us copies of a chapter on prayer from a book titled Christianity for Beginners - I am looking forward to working through this chapter with these men. They have a longing to learn how to pray more in their every day lives.  The idea of freely and spontaneously communicating with God is still novel to them.

I recently had a chat with a father and his 20-something daughter in front of the atelier. They were admiring my work through the window. He was thinking of buying one of my paintings for his daughter to hang in her new apartment. As we chatted, he wanted to know what exactly I am doing here. After explaining it to him I told him, as I have told many others, that I just want to be a blessing for the neighborhood. He said he thought I already was and then as they were leaving he said that he hoped that a lot of blessings come right back to me. That made my day!


I have signed up to take part in an event called “Blue Evening in Nippes”. Nippes is the name of the district of Cologne we live in and where the atelier is. It is an evening where all the participating shops and businesses decorate their shops with blue streamers, balloons, etc. and offer specials, music and creative events - staying open much later than normal. Last year there were dozens of participants with hundreds, if not thousands of visitors wandering from shop to shop. I have invited a jazz musician to perform at the atelier. Please pray that I would be able to make many new contacts for the Gospel through this event on September 5th.

Oh the pain!
Although I was not up to it earlier, I would like to share about a medical condition I have been dealing with over the last month. In April I went to the skin doctor and was diagnosed with pre-cancerous spots on my forehead. The doctor recommended a special light treatment that has proven highly successful in eliminating the abnormal cells.  The procedure was executed two times over eight days.  The discomfort and pain after the first treatment was manageable but the pain after the second treatment was almost unbearable.  Fortunately it subsided considerably after six excruciating hours.  The next several days were spent dealing with a severely swollen forehead and eyes followed by severe scabbing.  Thankfully I was able to preach at the Easter service less than a week later - albeit with a hat pulled right down to my eyebrows to spare the congregation from having to look at the disaster underneath.  Amazingly the outer layer of skin has healed quite rapidly and I am thankful to the Lord for modern medicine and for how he carried me through this unpleasant ordeal.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

Yours for Germany,
Jason and Sue

Samstag, März 01, 2014





Dear friends,

MyLife
The first 3 Sunday afternoons in February, I (Jason) hosted and led an evangelistic workshop in the Pastor's Atelier entitled, MyLife.  The 8 participants were fully engaged and eager to return for the next session and the feedback was very positive.  Although I am not yet aware of any first-time decisions for Christ, it was clear that God was working in the hearts of several of the participants.  Please pray for the continued work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of these seekers.  I highly recommend this workshop.  For more information see:http://www.mylifeworkshop.org.


2014
We would like to give you a look at our ministry activity in 2014. It is often in our ongoing ministry that we see people taking steps and growing in their trust toward God. The day-to-day and week-to-week activities in which we serve are so important. Most of our time in ministry is devoted to: 

sermon/service preparation and celebration, counseling, street evangelism, friendship evangelism, pre-evangelism events, discipleship, prayer, small groups, leadership meetings, planning, administration 

Please pray that God would continue to use us for the advancement of His kingdom in our ongoing, everyday activities here in Germany.

In addition, these are the highlights to date that we are looking forward to this year.  More special opportunities and events will most likely be added as the year progresses. Please pray that God’s kingdom would come and that His will would be done in Germany as it is in heaven.

The Consultation for Church Planting - March 5-6
Currently we have a relatively small group of 22 who have registered for our annual 24-hour gathering. Many church planting leaders have full schedules and due to the speaker’s schedule (an expert on social milieus) we have moved the location to southern Germany in Schwaebish Gmuend - near Stuttgart - which makes it more difficult for those from northern Germany to attend. Nevertheless, we are looking forward to learning and working together toward more interdenominational collaboration. We decided as the leadership team to spend another half day in sharing and prayer, and brainstorming about long-term goals for the consultation.

German field retreat - 27-30 March
This is always an intimate time of sharing and prayer with our team here in Germany. The uplifting mixture of tears and laughter as we recount the ways that God is working in our personal lives and in our ministries is always encouraging. It was just a year ago that I resigned from leading the German field. I am thankful for the new leadership team and I am looking forward to attending this year as a supporting field missionary.

Home Ministry Assignment - May 30 - June 17 in Ontario and Michigan
We look forward to connecting with family, friends and the folks at 6 of our supporting churches in southern Ontario and the Detroit area. Albeit, trips like this are often a mix of exhaustion and encouragement for us.

Preaching at the amphibious vehicle rally worship service - August 3.
A man who heard me preach at one of the churches in the area has invited me to speak at an event he helps organize in the picturesque town of Traben Trarbach on the Mosel river.  It is an international weekend rally of amphibious vehicles, where about 50 vehicles and 150 people from all over Europe are expected. For years they have been working on a strategy to reach the participants with the Gospel. On Sunday morning they will be offering an open-air worship service. Traben Trarbach is of particular concern because the entire town is under the strong influence of a Buddhist who has placed his little statues in all the shop windows and has opened the largest Buddhist Museum in Germany. This event is a unique opportunity that I could have never thought up on my own.



GEM annual conference August 4-9 in Willingen, Germany
This annual gathering of the GEM family is a highlight for us because of the worship time and the fellowship with so many like-minded missionaries who have a heart for Europe. The speakers, training seminars and workshops also provide learning opportunities and are a source of encouragement.

New Reformation Tour - September 26 - October 5
I will be co-hosting this tour along with my colleague, Dr. Joel White. We will be visiting the sites of events that have had a powerful impact on the world: the conversion of the Germanic tribes, the Reformation, the Holocaust and more.  Professors from the Giessen School of Theology (GST), a GEM partner institution, who have extensive knowledge of Germany’s rich religious history, will be joining parts of the tour. Participants will gain a sense of Germany’s present spiritual need…and celebrate the beginnings of a new reformation in the heart of Europe, encountering exciting ministries that are working to fulfill GEM’s vision: “God expanding His kingdom through all the peoples of Europe to the world.” Click here to download a brochure with more information.



Cologne Project church retreat October 31-November 2
The mission statement of our church plant is: Creating space for Jesus Christ. The retreat helps us to do just that. The opportunity for close fellowship over an entire weekend allows for deepening relationships with one another and with the Lord.

kirche.neu (church.new) - November 26.
The Consultation for Church Planting is not the only network in Germany that is seeking to see God’s kingdom advanced and new churches planted. Kirche.neu has become significant due to its broad range of key leaders of church planting movements. This fall we are co-initiating a one-day inspirational conference that is pulling together 5 different networks with different emphasis but the same ultimate goal of seeing God’s kingdom advance in Germany. Pastor Oscar Muriu is the keynote speaker. He is the leader of Nairobi Chapel, where he was an intern 25 years ago when the church had just 20 members. In the mean time the church has grown and planted many daughter churches. Today 14,000 attend the 40 churches that have been planted. (www.nairobichapel.org) We are praying that God will use this day to foster even more unity and vision for church planting in Germany.

Thank you so much for your prayer and financial support.

In Christ,
Jason and Sue

Mittwoch, Dezember 04, 2013

December 2013 update

Dear Friends,
Along with many regular activities, including pastoring, counseling, weekly small group, street evangelism, etc., this past year was full of significant events and we are so grateful for all the Lord has done. Here are some of the highlights.

January
I attended the yearly GEM leadership meetings in Naples where God led me to resign from leading the German field staff, giving me much more capacity to pursue evangelism and church planting.

February
grand opening

We celebrated the grand opening of the Pastor’s Atelier. About 50 friends, neighbors and colleagues stopped by in the course of the evening. Many brought a gift of some kind.  I went from having zero to four plants in just one evening and I’m proud to say that they are all still living!

I participated as an assessor at the annual City Mentoring Program assessment meetings with about 20 young potential church planters, many of whom are already well into their internships in various church plants.

GEM field retreat
In my final responsibilities as GEM Germany field leader I was able to lead the field in an amazing Spirit-filled process of choosing and calling new leadership for the field at the annual retreat..





March
Sue started her Masters program in Intercultural Competencies at the Danube University in Krems, Austria and attended her first 4-day module. This is an exciting new chapter in our lives.

April
church retreat
Our church plant, Cologne Project, held a weekend retreat at which several former visitors stepped up to become active participants of the church.

I hosted my first mini-concert at the Pastor’s Atelier - a great way to meet new people and enjoy beautiful music as well.


20 year celebration
May
The Evangelical Free Church in Cologne-Porz (our first church plant) celebrated its 20-year anniversary. It was a wonderful day of seeing old friends, reminiscing and praising God for the many who have come to faith and been disciple in this ministry.



June
symposium
I co-led the Symposium for church planting in Germany in Stuttgart. It was a powerful 3 days with overwhelming positive feedback from the participants and speakers. We are beginning to see concrete evidence that God is working in new ways through some of the national church leaders who attended.


September
Most of the month I was in Colorado on Home Ministry Assignment visiting friends, family, supporters and our 5 supporting churches on the front range with a side trip to our supporting church in Missouri. It was an exhausting three weeks but it was a good time - especially getting to spend time with our son, Sam and Heidi.

November
I attended the annual City Mentoring Program conference in Frankfurt. With 50 participants, it was the largest group ever. All the church plants in the growing CMP network were represented. We heard reports from all of them and spent much time praying over each one. God is working!

The Consultation for Church Planting met for the first time since the Symposium. There was much enthusiasm among the participants as we reviewed the Symposium and began to get concrete about working together more across denominational lines in order to foster a church planting movement.

Whew! It was quite a year. Thank you for standing with us with your prayers, encouragement and financial support. It’s so good to know you are there for us.

As we enter the Advent season, we celebrate with you God’s indescribable gift - our Lord Jesus Christ! - the reason for our hope, joy, and dedicated ministry of church planting in Germany.

Your servants,

Jason and Sue

Montag, September 02, 2013

september update 2013


Dear Friends,
We have been silent for too long and much has happened since we last wrote.

The Cologne Project
We have been encouraged with a steady flow of new faces and a deeper commitment to the church among the regular attenders. A real highlight was our weekend retreat in April at which we had wonderful times of fellowship but also good discussions about what it means to be a church. We are in the process of disbanding the start team of 7 people and moving toward a preliminary leadership team that will guide the church through the next phases of growth and restructuring. We always have the best music and are slowly becoming known as the jazz church. It has been amazing to experience God speaking to us through the creativity of jazz music within a very simple, mostly unplugged, liturgical worship service.

Cologne Project retreat


The Pastor's Atelier
I continue to make new contacts and to see how God is using the Atelier to open new doors in people's lives. In May, June, July and August I hosted mini-concerts with young musicians who brought their friends. The beautiful music in the intimate ambiance of the Atelier lends itself to simple, relaxed encounters. The men's prayer group continues to be a highlight for my friends and me. As one of them recently commented: this is becoming a small church. Hallelujah!

Please pray about a new workshop that I will be conducting in Oct-Nov called My Life Workshop. (www.mylifeworkshop.org (
http://www.mylifeworkshop.org) I am excited about this new tool that was developed by our friend and colleague Dietrich Schindler to reach post-moderns with the Gospel. Please pray as we begin to promote and invite people to the workshop. Pray that God would lead 12 people who are far from God to sign up.

The Symposium for Church Planting in Germany
As part of the ongoing work with the Consultation for Church Planting in Germany, we hosted our first major conference in June in Stuttgart - but for strategic reasons decided to call it a symposium. As part of the steering committee that initiated and led this gathering, I must admit we were somewhat nervous going into it. We have no official status or organization backing us so financially it was a personal risk for the four of us. We sought to recruit the best speakers but then told them we couldn't pay them and they would have to pay their own expenses.



We needed 80 participants to sign up in order to break even. In the end we had 120 participants and a program of speakers, discussion groups, workshops and debate that was thrilling to witness. The Christian press was there and their reporting was extremely positive. Never before has there been a conference like this that included almost the entire spectrum of evangelicals in Germany to talk about church planting and the need for Germany to be saturated with new churches. We are thankful to the Lord and for your prayers and support.

Sue's Masters program
Sue has been very diligent in her Masters study in Intercultural Competency.  This summer she successfully completed a very challenging internship at the University of Cologne - creating and teaching a two-day block course for students preparing for studying abroad.  Word has gotten out and she has already been asked to teach the course at additional venues including the European Institute for Church Planting. She loves it but is also being stretched and challenged. There is no end to our dinnertime discussions over the topics she is learning about. So much of it relates directly to our lives and ministry here.

Rocky Mountain High
I am going to be in Colorado Sept. 6-23 to visit family, friends and our 5 supporting churches on the Front Range. I would love to see as many of you in Colorado that I can. I will be staying in Denver, close to our son, Sam but have plenty of weekdays open to meet for a meal, coffee, etc. I'm also hoping to meet new folks who might be interested in joining our support team. If you would like to host an informal evening get-together - please let me know. The next trip we are planning is for early 2014 to Ontario and Michigan.

The Family
In May I took a spontaneous trip to visit Roy in New York. His job as building superintendent was eliminated meaning Roy was out of a job and out of an apartment. He has been staying with friends in the city looking for work and a new living situation. Please pray for him. He is open to moving if you know of anything in your area. In July Sue's mom, Elinor (87) and her sister, Connie, came to visit us for 2 weeks. We had a great time together. One night we had my men's prayer group with their wives over and at one point I asked mom to share her story. They are still talking about her strength, wit and fluent German and her story of God's grace in her life.

Thank you for standing with us!

Jason and Sue 

Sonntag, März 17, 2013

March Update


Dear Friends,
Here are some of the things happening in our lives:

The Pastor's Atelier
The grand opening on February 16 was a blessing. Over the course of the evening 50 guests stopped by. In addition to our ministry networks, several of our old and new neighbors came. The atmosphere was relaxed and there were lots of good conversations and new connections made. Thank you for praying for this. Please continue to pray as this new ministry context keeps growing.
 

In the last couple months 3 different prayer groups have been initiated at the Atelier. Our church plant has begun a monthly morning prayer gathering. Kristi has started an artists prayer group that I host. And just recently, I have started an early morning mens group with a few of my friends and neighbors - some of whom are not yet believers. It was so exciting to see them respond positively and indicate their desire to meet every week (Tuesdays at 7am). One of the men commented that although he was very suspicious of the Christian faith he could envision meeting regularly like this in the Atelier, i.e. but not a church.

We have discovered that people seldom make a decision for Christ in an instant. Usually it is a series of mini-decisions - in other words, a process. In the near future I hope to start a discovery bible study with some of our contacts who are interested to help them along in their process.

GEM German field leadership
After 6 years of being GEM Germany field leader, I felt that God wanted me to move on. With ca. 30 missionaries (pictured below at our recent yearly retreat) and a constant flow of people interested in possibly coming to serve, it was a lot of work in addition to our work in church planting and evangelism. We are grateful for having had the privilege of working with such an inspiring, talented group of people. God has already raised up a wonderful new leadership team from within our ranks. Please pray with us for a smooth transition and for even better things to come. Pray for me to be in step with the Spirit as to how to invest my time now that I have more capacity for church planting, evangelism and discipleship. 

 
CMP Assessments
From Feb. 20-23 I took part in the yearly City Mentoring Program church planter assessments. There were 20 German and international candidates including spouses and fiancés. I was one of 9 assessors responsible for observing and interacting with these promising young potential church planters as they went through preaching, team, evangelism and conflict resolution exercises as well as intensive interviews. The goal is to identify those who are gifted and called to either lead church plants (or even initiate church planting movements!) and those who are called to be a part of a team. We are so thankful for the present wave of interest among Bible school and seminary students for church planting. Please pray that this trend would continue and increase exponentially.


MA Intercultural Competencies
After much thought, prayer and research - Sue has decided to pursue a Masters degree. She applied and was accepted at the Donau University Krems (near Vienna). She attends her first of 10, fourday modules next week. She is excited about the program but nervous about returning to school after so long. The subject matter applies directly to our ministry in Germany but also to business English training. Please pray for her as she jumps into this. Pray for strength and for the adjustment to being back in school.

As Easter draws near we are reminded once again of the hope the resurrection gives us. We pray that God will bless you with a renewed sense of that power and hope!

Your missionaries,

Jason and Sue




PS: Click here to see our current financial support needs.