Stacey is the blogger in the family. I'm horrible at it. Actually, I'm a virtual non-entity in the "blogosphere". I'm pretty bad on Facebook, too. But Stacey has been twisting my arm as of late to blog about a couple of important trips I've taken over the past few months.
Back in November, I was invited to Soest, Netherlands, to take part in the European Conference of Reformed Churches. It was an encouragement to meet nationals planting reformed churches from Latvia to Croatia to Amsterdam to Northern Ireland, as well as to meet with our friends from the Evangelisch-reformierte Kirche W.B. (Evangelical Reformed Church in Austria and Switzerland). While there, I was asked to present our vision to see churches planted here in Vienna.
Before flying back to Vienna, I spent a few hours walking around Amsterdam. Nothing I have read about or heard about the city center could have prepared me for the smell of the "coffee houses" and far more disturbing, the sight of African prostitutes in store-front windows. I wondered, how many of these women are essentially slaves, "working" to pay off their debt to the pimp who brought them to be a toy for tourists and "open-minded" residents?
God is doing something in this city, however, as I met with a young Dutch church planter who told me of a network of 15 new church plants within the city limits of Amsterdam.
Last weekend Jeff, Herbert, and I flew to Zurich, Switzerland, where we took part in the 1st ever Synod of the Evangelisch-reformierte Kirche W.B. It was so good to be with our co-laborers. Our young denomination has grown from 1 pastor and 2 churches in 2005 to 6 pastors and 5 churches across Austria and Switzerland 4 short years later.
Please pray for God to raise up each of our churches, for growth in each church, for new church plants, for us to help raise up church planters, elders, deacons, and leaders. There are enormous challenges, enormous needs, and enormous opportunities here in these two countries, and our churches are young, small, and lacking in resources. Still, it was an honor to be a part of this "small step for a denomination", which we pray will become a giant leap for Austria and Switzerland.
While we were in Switzerland, we stayed with a very hospitable Swiss-British family, the Schmidtheinys, worshipped with the ERKWB church in Winterthur, and got a few hours to tour Zurich. Again, the scarcity of photos is evidence of the fact that Stacey was back in Vienna during this trip. ;)