On a hot evening in spring, our air conditioner had kicked on outside our bedroom window and woke me up in the middle of the night. I wasn’t able to fall back asleep after that, not because of the noise, but because God was calling me, and I told him I was willing to be a missionary.
So, you’ve made it. You’re in the field. The mission field. Now what? Maybe you have friends or colleagues that pick you up from the airport and help you acclimate. Nevertheless, the moment comes. You are alone. In your own room. To fend for yourself. And everything is different.
Missionaries Steve and Tece Entsminger recently took a group of students to a children’s ministry conference. These students are training to be pastors and church leaders at Facultad de Teología, an Assemblies of God seminary in Córdoba, Spain. During the Bible lessons at the conference, one of the students was captivated by the way the content was being presented to the point of forgetting her responsibilities as a counselor. When Tece asked later why she was so intrigued, she replied, “I had no idea you could actually minister to children!”
In 1992 missionary Rick Cunningham awoke from a dream in which he was teaching in a language he had never heard. God used that dream to call him and his wife Jan from Spain to Romania. In their first exploratory trip to Romania, the Cunninghams discovered the shocking reality that book translations had been outlawed under Communist rule, resulting in few available resources in the Romanian language. As developers of training materials in Spain, Rick and Jan felt the Holy Spirit impress them—“What you have done in Spain is tremendously needed here.” That felt need confirmed their call to move to Romania, but neither of them could have anticipated what would happen there.
Continental Theological Seminary (CTS), Europe’s regional seminary located in a historic chateau near Brussels, Belgium, is a premier Assemblies of God institution of higher learning. In its rich 60-year history, CTS has trained thousands of students who have gone on to lead national and international ministries throughout Europe. With a dedicated faculty sharing decades of ministry experience, the vibrant academic culture at CTS should come as no surprise. But just as exciting as the training happening inside the academy is the depth of ministry happening outside the classroom, led by Assemblies of God missionaries.
Imagine for a moment what it would be like if North Korea, perhaps the country most closed to the gospel, suddenly opened to the outside world and even allowed Christians to come and plant churches. After 500 years of Islamic rule under the Ottoman Empire and 45 years under Communist and atheist rule, Albania’s situation was similar. In 1991 when the Communist regime fell, Albania was the most closed country in the world, with zero churches and few known believers. Four years later missionaries Kurt and Stephanie Plagenhoef arrived in the country and got to work. Today there are 200 evangelical churches and more than 20,000 believers!
Missionaries Steve and Christina Walent have served in Europe for more than 33 years, and in that time, through their ministry Church Basics International (CBI), they have partnered with numerous churches to help them implement positive change. The Walents are passionate about their calling to help churches “rediscover their reason for being and become a church that lives the Great Command and Great Commission.”
One of the marvels of Europe is the prolific and brilliantly designed train system. It’s incredible how it has been engineered to be easy to use and it seems to flow fluidly every day. Yet even the most seasoned travelers can make the mistake of scrambling down one of the numerous staircases leading to a platform where two trains have doors opened, inducing the panicked question of, “On which track is my train?”
In 2003, after 17 years of working in the entertainment industry and walking in the world, I gave my heart and life back to Christ. I prayed every day for a year, “Lord remake me, remold me, make into the person you created me to be and I will go where you want me to go and I will do whatever you want me to do.” Folks, be careful what you pray for. The Lord answered that prayer of mine in ways that if you would have told me back then, what I would be doing and where I would be doing it, I would have thought you were had lost your mind!