GCI: Central and Eastern Europe, and Spain
Germany and Austria
There are about 130 members attending or affiliated with our five congregations or small groups in Germany and Austria. In Germany we sponsor a magazine entitled Nachfolge. There are about 4,600 subscribers, mainly in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, with about 700 subscribers in other nations. Germany, known as the land of Martin Luther and the Reformation, has become hard soil for the gospel. We have been sponsoring the building of a medical center in Togo, Africa, and we support Eastern European missions.
Santiago Lange is our National Director in Germany as well as one of the Missions Directors for Europe.
A number of years ago we launched a media ministry that eventually expanded to include a magazine in the Russian language. The Bulgarian Sviata Istina has a bimonthly circulation of 4,000, while the bimonthly Russian edition, Sviataja Istina, has a circulation of 1,000. Our readers include Christians from many denominations, who have come to appreciate our literature as excellent discipleship tools. The magazines also reach many people who live far from existing churches. In eastern Bulgaria there is a group of about 30 Christians associated with us that has been meeting regularly for worship services three times a week. We hope to increase our media operations as additional resources become available. We support three orphanages in the towns of Jambol, Elhovo and Kermen. Eastern Europe is open to the gospel, and we hope that our work there will bring many more good fruits in the future.
Our Missions Directors [MD] fill a vital role for the denomination. They work in teams to coordinate and superintend our missionary activities. We are blessed to have leaders with a rich diversity of ministerial experience. Most of the team members serve as National Ministry Leaders in their home nations.
The teams are:
- Gary Moore and Kalengule Kaoma for Africa
- Rod Matthews, Eugene Guzon and John McLean for Asia, the Philippines, Australia and Oceania
- Charles Fleming and Hector Barrero for the Caribbean and Latin America
- James Henderson and Santiago Lange for Europe
The MD acts as a catalyst and a facilitator for the living and sharing of the gospel. They respond to new calls to mission from various places and people. They confirm the legitimacy and viability of a mission call. Once they involve themselves with a mission, much of their work is engaged in identifying and training indigenous men and women. The MDs are becoming specialists in contextualizing the gospel into diverse cultures and situations. This takes maturity and a great deal of experience, since there is often a thin divider between the blessing of a contextualized gospel and the curse of syncretism.
Other priorities of the MD may be summarized as providing pastoral leadership development and succession planning, promoting personal well-being, providing pastoral supervision, ensuring biblically sound teaching, spiritual formation and equipping of pastors, providing evangelism guidance and coordination, linking available resources from external sources to ensure greatest gospel value, linking developing missions to the fellowship through communication, intervening when necessary, being a presence for the denomination.
The mission of Grace Communion International outside the United States is funded in three ways. The first is through the donations of members in the various countries in which we work. The majority of mission work being done is being funded through this means. The second category is the money that comes out of the denominational apportionment of the contributions received in U.S. local churches, and the third source is from individual or congregational donations that are in addition to the funds made available from the denominational apportionment. Our Missions Directors and other mission expenses incurred at the denominational offices are funded from this denominational apportionment.
The Netherlands and Flanders
We have 140 members attending in six congregations (one of which is in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium). The sixth congregation was added in 2013 in the province of Friesland, and consists mainly of Congolese and some Burundese members who speak Swahili. They came from Kukuma refugee camp in Kenya. The age range of those in attendance in the congregations is between 1 and 91 years. The oldest member (a former missionary) is still preaching sometimes! In 2014 we celebrated Pentecost with members of all congregations combined and had some 25 guests from a Burundese congregation from Zutphen.
In November 2009 the Almere congregation was established, with the purpose of becoming more local and reaching out to the local community. We have four local congregations meeting on Sunday (Tilburg, Almere and Tiel and Leeuwarden). Meeting for practical reasons on Saturday are Antwerp (Belgium) and Zwolle as long–distance congregations.
The Tilburg congregation is an active member of an ecumenical association, and participates in a choir in two prisons. The congregation in Antwerp is associated with the Evangelical Alliance. The congregation in Almere is member of the local Evangelical contact group, which consists of 22 denominations. We work together in local evangelism activitities, meet for breakfast and pray together. In the community of Almere we have about 170 nationalities.
The members in the Netherlands are active in a number of mission projects, including street evangelism and serving locally where opportunities arise. Most members in the Netherlands are fluent in English. We continue to remain in contact with two members in Suriname, South America, and a few Dutch-speaking members in Indonesia.
In 2015 we published a new website, www.gracecommunion.nl and opened a Youtube channel: GCINetherlands. We no longer publish Lifeline magazine due to the high cost.
Spain has a population of over 45 million. About 1.5 million people have an evangelical background. Most of these Christians migrated during the last ten years to Spain from South America, Africa and Eastern Europe.
We held our first worship service in Spain in 1988. There are about 20 members regularly attending the Madrid congregation, although there are an estimated 100 Christians, mostly of Brazilian background, who occasionally also come to our fellowship.
About 35 additional members are scattered throughout Spain. Most of them came in contact through the old denominational magazine, La Pura Verdad. Some are also visiting other Christian congregations even though they want to remain members of us. The church produces two magazines, Juntos and Verdad Y Vida. Juntos provides the Spanish members with strong spiritual nourishment. The second magazine, Verdad Y Vida, has 500 subscribers. The gospel faces great challenges in Spain and we would greatly appreciate prayers of support.