Montag, Juli 11, 2022

July update

 Dear Friends,

In our last update in March (oh my, how time flies!) we asked you to pray for the refugees flooding in from the Ukraine. In the mean time the flood has become a smaller but steady stream, most of whom are able to find housing themselves or through German government agencies. Many of our missionary colleagues are helping directly in serving these people and sharing the gospel. Please continue to pray that God would bring peace to the Ukraine.

A heartfelt thank you for praying for our church retreat April 9-10. We had a good group including a refugee family from central Asia that we have been working with for the last 5 years. God was present and blessed us. We talked about peace and what that means to us and what God has to say about it in his word. Please continue praying - for God's peace to dig deeper into the hearts of us who have been following Him for a while, and into the hearts of those who don't yet know Him.

Many prayed for me as I did a funeral in April for the mother of a friend of ours. I spoke words of comfort and shared the gospel clearly for all those in attendance. Shortly after, a dear neighbor’s mother passed away and she asked me to do the burial as well. Pray for God’s continuing comfort and that He would draw the family and friends to Himself.

I recently read that "Something does not need to be perfect to be wonderful, especially weddings.” That was a good reminder for me and for the 2 happy couples that I have recently pronounced man and wife. Starting with the pre-marital counselling, weddings are very personal, and the expectations can be high. But they are also an opportunity to share the gospel and Christ’s love.

 


We had a wonderful weekend with all of our colleagues at our annual GEM Germany field retreat in April. We are grateful for how the Lord continues to send new workers to Germany. We have grown. In fact, half of those there, were at there very first field retreat. Here is the report I gave from our Cologne area: https://youtu.be/c2kDDcBaE6k

We asked you to pray for our Alpha course that started in April. We almost cancelled it because we were having trouble recruiting participants - but then we suddenly had 5 who joined us for our first evening in the pastorenatelier. We ate together, had everyone introduce themselves, and then watched the input video which gives a clear presentation of the Gospel through people who share their own journeys to Christ.

The philosophy of the Alpha course is that, after the lesson, you allow people to say what they thought and how they felt about it in an open and inviting atmosphere, allowing the Holy Spirit to work. There were many different opinions shared. We marvelled to see the Holy Spirit guiding the discussion. By the end of the evening, they were talking about other friends that they wanted to invite!

However, the next week there were four instead of more. The week after that, unfortunately 2 of the participants got into a tiff during the discussion and it got personal. One of them decided to stop coming. After week four, 2 more participants dropped out, leaving us with just one and so we ended the course prematurely. Fortunately, he has remained connected with us and even spent a whole day with our church on our bike trip recently. Pray for D as we continue to speak into his life. I also have continued contact with one of the other participants.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support on which we are so dependant.

Blessings,

Jason and Sue

Mittwoch, März 30, 2022

March Update

 Dear Friends,

The war is definitely being felt here. In our talks with neighbors and friends, there is a lot of fear and very little hope. We pray constantly that God would intervene so that any further death and suffering will stop. The refugees are pouring into Germany. Through my extended network, I have been able to connect several women and children with christians in Cologne willing to take them in. One of our colleagues and his church have taken in a family;  Another one spent a week on the Polish border with Ukraine helping refugees.

There is a large tent welcome center set up right in front of the main train station in Cologne where hundreds of people a day are being welcomed, given immediate necessities including SIM cards and being assigned to temporary housing around the city. I ride by there on my bike almost every day and pray.



I saw a report on the German news about a 12 year old Ukrainian girl who had to choose what to bring with when her mom said that they were fleeing. She decided on bringing her violin and her pet ferret. She is a talented musician and was immediately given a spot in a music school for talented kids in Berlin. It moved me to see just a snippet of her giftedness and see this little bright spot that comes out of such a dark place. Please pray with us for Ukraine and for God's intervention. Pray for us and many others as we respond with Christ's love to the traumatised refugees showing up here. Pray for wisdom in how to help them beyond their immediate needs.

Also, please pray for me as I do a funeral for the mother of a friend of ours on Friday. Pray that I would be able to speak comforting words but also share the gospel clearly for all of the not-yet-believers who will be present.

Please pray for our church retreat April 9-10. We are thankful and excited for the many who will be attending, including a refugee family from central Asia that we have been working with for the last 5 years. The theme for our weekend is peace.

And finally, check out this 2 minute video from GEM’s president Jon Burns about “Why Europe, Why Now?" There you will find a further link on the page that shows exactly what GEM is doing in response to the war.

Thankful for you,
Jason and Sue

Mittwoch, November 03, 2021

November update

 The Unplanned Adventure – An Exercise in Thankfulness  


Thursday, September 9: we flew to beautiful, sunny Colorado, one mile higher than where we live (huff huff, puff puff).

Sunday, September 12: We visited Calvary Church in Longmont, where I was once on staff while studying at Denver Seminary. We shared briefly in their two morning services and more at length in one of their most dynamic Sunday School groups called “Rounding Third”! That afternoon, friends of ours hosted a little open house for us. Had supper with our kids in Denver on our way back to Colorado Springs.

Saturday & Sunday, September 18-19: preached twice at 1st Evangelical Free Church in Colorado Springs and met with their missions committee. We are so thankful for this church and their support. They made their wonderful “hospitality house” available to us for our entire stay.

Tuesday, September 21: started coming down with cold symptoms.

Wednesday, September 22: the drains backed up at the hospitality house. It took the plumbers and the angel from 1st  E. Free church (you know who you are ;-) all day and over 100 feet of “snake” to free them.

Thursday, September 23: despite persisting cold symptoms we drove up to Longmont to have lunch out in a park with dear friends (we are only here for a few weeks every few years…). It was a special time. We would have loved to had coffee with another dear friend (you know who you are ;-) but we cancelled because of health concerns. Then we had supper outdoors with, other super cool friends before heading back to the springs.

Saturday, September 25: shared a tasty pot-luck lunch with the folks at Grace Community Bible Church in Pueblo and then shared about our ministry. They have been with us from the start, and we are so thankful for them.

Unfortunately, my cold symptoms just kept getting worse which led to the following:

Sunday, September 26: I stayed home because I was too sick, so that Sue went alone to share about our lives and ministry at Faith Evangelical Free Church in the Springs. She came home and during the course of the afternoon, started to get sick.  By late evening felt like she had been run over by train.

Monday, September 27: We both tested positive for Covid.  

Covid week.  Isolation.  A practice in thankfulness:  He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”  Psalm 50:23


jason's corona ipad art

Saturday, October 2: We both tested positive again for Covid.

Sunday, October 3: We had to cancel our visit with our amazing supporters at Crossroads Bible Church.

Slowly recovering and no longer contagious, we were able to spend a few blessed days in the Rockies with our kids.

Sunday, October 10: Took yet another PCR Covid test; mandated by Lufthansa before permission to fly is granted. 

Monday, October 11: Test results - negative. Just in time to fly as scheduled.  Nothing but a miracle!

Tuesday, October 12: Flew back to Germany.

Wednesday, October 13: Arrived back home in Cologne. Whew!

Proverbs 16:9 - We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.

Our trip certainly did not go according to our plans. We are thankful to the Lord that we didn’t get hit harder (we are both vaccinated). We are also so grateful that we could hunker down at the hospitality house. What a blessing that was! We wanted so much to connect with all our friends and supporters in Colorado. We are sad that we couldn’t see many of you.

So now that we are back in Cologne, we are trying to understand what the Lord may have had in mind as we went through this. It certainly wasn’t the trip we had envisioned. We are also keeping our eyes open as to why we were able to test negative just one day before we were scheduled to fly back to Cologne. We want to be open to whatever the Lord is doing as we begin re-engaging with some of the refugees and anticipating new ones arriving from Afghanistan. Also, as we plan for ways to jump-start our little church plant which has lost some ground during Covid.

In the end though, we can definitely say that we are grateful. In this Thanksgiving season - we are so thankful for the Lord’s protection, provision, and mercy. We are thankful for so many of you who are a part of His provision for us - through your prayers and encouragement, practical help and financial support.

As you begin to plan your own year-end giving, would you please consider directing a portion to our ministry. Currently, our monthly shortfall is $385. We are also in need of appr. $15,000 in special gifts to cover a deficit due to some fallout from Covid and a generally weak dollar the last couple of years.

Gratefully,
Jason and Sue

Mittwoch, September 22, 2021

September update

 Dear Friends,

The Corona restrictions for worship services were rather strict in the spring, so when the weather started to get nice, we began meeting outside in the spacious garden that our colleagues, Dan and Elly, had recently leased. Most of our services are interactive and unplugged and don’t rely on technology - so it worked out just fine. One of the themes we chose for this year is creation, so that when we met, the garden surrounded us in techno-color and surround sound as we dug into God’s word: birds, bugs, warm breeze, sunshine, clouds, fruit trees, flowers, veggies… You get the idea! This solution to one of issues of the pandemic has been a gift from our amazing Creator.
 


The Gießen School of Theology, which was founded by GEM missionaries in 1974, is one of the largest evangelical theological seminaries in Germany today. Currently, about 180 students from many countries of the world are taught by sixteen full-time faculty members and various excellent guest teachers. More than 1000 alumni are serving as pastors, teachers, or missionaries around the world, in over 40 countries. The FTH is an exciting place for people who love the Lord and his word. I currently serve as the GEM representative on the Board of Directors. Check out my recent interview with Stephan Holthaus, the president herePlease pray for the students, staff and leadership of the school.

Thanks to those who have been praying for E who finally got a good job with the German Train company in the spring. Many of you have prayed for him in the past, and this was truly an answer to prayer.  Because of his immigrant background, past failures, and struggles with depression, it has been many years since he was able to obtain a solid job. Unfortunately, he now has to deal with a very serious and challenging problem regarding his youngest son.  Please continue to pray for E and for his family. 

In light of the recent heartbreaking events in Afghanistan, we are expecting more traumatised refugees in Cologne. The mayor has let it be known that the city is ready to take in hundreds more. Please pray for God’s mercy and that He would use us and the other churches and ministries here to care for these people and share Christ’s love with them.

Please pray for Alex, who arrived recently from Canada to join our team here in Cologne.  He has a heart for refugees and has ministered in Lesvos several times. He is staying with one of our colleagues until he finds his own place. Pray especially that he would find just the right apartment soon. It's a challenge these days in Cologne. Also, the bureaucratic hurdles for registering and getting a visa are much higher because of corona.

We are coming for a visit! We will be in Colorado from September 9 to October 12. Here is our schedule of the church gatherings we will be at: 

September 12: Calvary Church, Longmont
September 18-19: First Evangelical Free Church, Colorado Springs
September 26 (am): Faith Evangelical Free Church, Colorado Springs
September 25 (11:00): Grace Community Bible Church, Pueblo
October 3: Crossroads Bible Church, Aurora

Blessings!
Jason and Sue

Download our new prayer card here!


Donnerstag, Juni 03, 2021

June Update

 Dear Friends,

I’ve had some little visitors at the Pastorenatelier lately. I’ve noticed that one of the barbers next door has recently been bringing his kids to work with him. They play in the shop, in the car and out on the sidewalk. So I invited them in to color and play. Awiwan (8) said that their mother hasn't left them, she just wanted to take their baby brother and live in another house. They are very cute and well behaved. Schirach (4) doesn’t speak German very well but that doesn’t keep him from babbling on and on to me. Please pray for this immigrant family in crisis. They fled Aleppo, Syria 5 years ago and have suffered so much loss already in their lives. May the Lord have mercy on them and draw them to Himself. 

What a joy it is to celebrate Pentecost at the end of  the Easter season - the coming of the Holy Spirit (Emanuel, God with us, 2.0) and the birth of the Church.  This is the underlying theme of the diversity training and workshops that Sue leads.  Through the Spirit we are united, although not the same, and through the Spirit our differences our reconciled.

When the day of Pentecost came they were all together in one place … All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.  Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under Heaven … each one heard them [the Apostles] speaking in his own language.  Utterly amazed, they asked:  “how is it that each of us hears them in his native language?  Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the part of Libya near Cyrene; victors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs – we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”  Acts 2: 5 - 11.  

Many thanks to those who prayed for the Intercultural Team Building workshop in May.  As Greater Europe Mission staff, not only do we work interculturally, but we are increasingly becoming intercultural in our membership.  Within the Frankfurt staff there are about 8 broad cultures represented.  It was an intense, lively, and constructive conversation.  Please continue to pray for Sue’s involvement in these workshops.  Pray that as GEM staff we would be models of the  Spirit’s unifying and reconciling work.

Considering diversity, we want to share a video interview with our close colleagues, Dan and Elly. They have been working alongside of us and also within our church, primarily with refugees.  Please pray for their many contacts, relationships and conversations.  They will be returning to their sending country for a one-year home ministry assignment.  We will sorely miss them.  Pray that they would be refreshed and blessed during this time. Video interview link.

Praise God with us that E. has begun a solid long-term job.   Many of you have prayed for him in the past, and this is truly an answer to prayer.  Because of his immigrant background, past failures, and struggles with depression, it has been many years since he was able to obtain a solid job.  Pray that God would grant him success and draw E. ever more closely to himself. 

Blessings!
Jason and Sue

Donnerstag, April 01, 2021

April Update

 Dear Friends,

As we face another and possibly more severe lockdown here in Germany due to the pandemic, I thought of the phrase, “who for the joy set before him endured the cross.”  This phrase is imbedded in a grand theme of endurance stretching from the saints of old all the way to the glorification of Christ.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of Witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow wear and lose heart.    Hebrews 12:1-3

Who could have known the race of endurance that had been marked out for us even a year ago.  It is indeed tempting to lose heart.  The writer’s admonishment is to continuing running with joy (!) as we steadily gaze into the face of Christ.  

As we take another deep breath and start the next lap, we are grateful for God’s reminder to us of the work that he has authored and perfected through the ministry in Germany, that we have been privileged to be a part of the last 30 years.  Take a look and listen to the interview with a cherished colleague, Sasha Ritzenhof.  Here's the link.


We wish you the persevering hope and joy of our crucified and risen Savior for the race yet to come.

Jason and Sue

Mittwoch, November 11, 2020

november update

 Dear Friends,

If you live in Germany Thanksgiving was celebrated on October 4 this year.  If you live in Canada Thanksgiving was celebrated on October 12.  And if you live in the USA you will be celebrating on November 26!  Over the years our Thanksgiving observance has evolved from a day of celebration to a SEASON OF CELEBRATION, which is probably more in line with the biblical mandate of “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything”. (Eph. 5:20)  ALWAYS.  REALLY!  “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (2 Thess. 5:16-18)  Most of us are probably struggling with that this year – 2020 - marked by the ongoing threat of a dangerous pandemic, political unrest, and all the various ways we have been personally affected by current events.  As difficult as it may be, giving thanks is one of the most effective practices we can exercise in the face of fear, uncertainty and hardship.

Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most
High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you
and you will honor me…He who sacrifices thank offerings
honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show
him the salvation of God.  Psalm 50:14,15,23
 

Practicing mindful and willful thanksgiving takes our eyes off of the fear, uncertainty and  hardship that consume our minds and hearts, to focus on our abundance, blessings and hope – and the One who is the faithful source of all that we are and have.

We asked you to pray for an exciting location possibility for our church in Cologne.  As promising as it looked, it didn’t work out.  However, we are thankful for the ongoing use of the location we presently meet in.  We are thankful for our wonderful church family during this ongoing time of uncertainty and restrictions – for their faithfulness, encouragement and fellowship.  We are thankful for God’s protection from harm and sickness as we traveled extensively, internationally and domestically.  We are thankful for precious time with family that we haven’t seen for years.  We are thankful for encouraging meetings with supporters and churches in New Jersey, Illinois and Wisconsin.

We are thankful for three people who put their trust in Christ.  While in Chicago visiting dear German friends, we took part in a Thursday evening Alpha course that they were hosting on Zoom. It was a joyful and exciting experience. We prayed for them as they met on the following Saturday over an extended time, where participants were challenged to put their trust in Christ. What a joy it was for us to hear later that 3 people accepted the Lord.  We are thankful that God continues to work, undertake and provide.

And so, we are thankful for you, dear friends – for your witness, your example, your encouragement in word and deed, for your prayers of petition, and for your financial support.  Let us know what sacrifices of thanksgiving you are offering up to the Lord!

Thankfully,
Jason and Sue


PS: SAVE THE DATE! December 5, 2020 at 12:00 EST (11 central, 10 mountain, 9 pacific) live zoom with Jason and Sue! All our supporters and friends are invited to hear what God is up to in our lives and ministry in Germany. We'll have some short interviews with those we minister to/with. Q&A, prayer requests and points of praise. Please join us! Here is the link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81916449657