We take global missions seriously at Sovereign Grace because we take the glory of God seriously. That’s why I’m excited to tell you a bit of the story of my friends, Mario and Jen Vucenovic, and their vision to spread the gospel in Dalmatia, Croatia. I hope this small glimpse whets your appetite to find out more about the Vucenovics and support them prayerfully and financially as the Lord leads.
Devoted to Christ
In November 2005, Mario promised his Savior that he would spend the rest of his life proclaiming the gospel of Jesus and the miracle Jesus did in saving him to the world. The Vucenovics have been worshiping with the disciples in Christ Community Church in Reading, Pennsylvania, where their pastors and congregation share the same burden to proclaim Christ in truth. Mario and Jen have been growing and learning about who Jesus is and what it means to live their lives on gospel mission.
For the last eight years, they have felt a burden and a need to make Jesus Christ known in Croatia, Mario’s home country. Like Mario would tell you, in Croatia, many people go to church but may not know Jesus as the Savior of their souls. It is Mario and Jen’s prayer that God would use a native Croatian who understands the language, culture, and values to bring him glory by planting a local church that celebrates and proclaims the life-transforming power of the gospel.
Mario recently traveled up and down the coast of Croatia to visit six churches to see what their needs were and find out how they can best serve there. There is a profound need for Croatian leaders in the local church. There are many faithful foreign or short-term missionaries who are not native to the language and culture and whose desire is to train and equip natives to disciple their own people. There is also a need for new church plants. There are many towns where you will find followers of Jesus with no church and no pastors. Many believers travel over an hour to attend a gospel-preaching church. Therefore, Mario and Jen long to see new believers come and be discipled the way they have been discipled in their local church in Reading.
They hope to reach this goal in four steps, Lord willing. They are willing to make sacrifices, just as others are making sacrifices to help them reach Croatia with the gospel. So they are currently selling their home and possessions and using the proceeds from the home to fund the following steps as much as possible:
- Study Bible and theology in Mario’s native language and serve the local Croatian church. Christ Community Church is sending them to partner locally with The Master’s Academy International (connected with The Master’s Seminary in California), which operates a theological training center in Krapina, Croatia. Their mission is to train native Croatians to plant and pastor local churches.
Beginning this September, their family will spend ten months training at the school, studying Bible and theology in Mario’s native language and serving the local church. All the while, they will engage locals through outreach; through providing support, leadership, and encouragement; and through establishing the foundations for a long-term ministry. Their goal is to raise $20,000 for this trip, and they have committed a minimum of $5,000 of their own money toward it.
- Attend the Sovereign Grace Pastors College in fall of 2015. They have been tentatively accepted into the program for next fall and will use their house sale proceeds toward the living expenses and costs to attend.
- Complete a one-year pastoral internship.
- Plant a church in Dalmatia, Croatia.
How You Can Get Involved
Be a part of God’s work in Croatia:
- Please pray for unwavering trust in the Lord as Mario and Jen travel the path he has mapped out for them. Pray for much-needed grace as they keep their eyes fixed on Jesus—that he will continue to sustain and lead them. Ask the Lord that they would not be tempted to do anything in their own strength, but that they would cling to him through each bump and turn in the road. And pray for their family of six to adjust to life in Croatia.
- Please financially partner with them in bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to Croatia. They are asking us to join hands with them to plant a Christ-centered, Christ-exalting, Sovereign Grace church in a 95% Catholic country. God will save and redeem his people from every people, tribe, tongue, and nation, and you will be at his throne worshiping the Lamb who was slain with those who will be rescued through this gospel endeavor in Croatia! One-time gifts or monthly support in any amount is greatly appreciated as it enables them to serve the Lord full-time. They know it would not be possible to go without our support.
Learn more about who they are, receive updates, and find out how to give at their website.
Street photo and Croatia map from Shutterstock.
Ian is Sovereign Grace's Director of Church Planting and Mission. He also serves as the lead pastor of Grace City Church in Northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ian and his wife, Rachel, have three children.
When Christian Wegert, our leading pastor of the Arche Church, gave an update on the Arche Pastors College in Hamburg, Germany, he reported that this Bible school needs much prayer. And rightly so. Thus, we thank our God for all your prayerful support.
God in his grace continued his Pastors College in Hamburg by sending both more students and the same teacher.
At the end of June, students from the Arche Church (three more than before), from other places in Germany (two more pastors), and from our partner churches in Ukraine and Russia came together to study the important subject of Biblical Theology. What a joy it was for the students to have Jeff Purswell come again and teach this second module on Biblical Theology. I myself had the privilege to sit under Jeff’s training at Sovereign Grace’s Pastors College from 2011–2012. Two years later, learning from Jeff’s teaching of God’s Word made me worship and love Christ in a deeper way.
God so graciously used Jeff to teach us the theological message of the Bible both in its individual components and in their contribution to its message as a whole. With God’s wisdom and a pastoral heart, Jeff not only taught but preached God’s Word. Thus, the students learned that they can’t properly apply a biblical text until they accurately understand the theology that informs it and the theological truth it communicates.
Learning from the fact that biblical revelation comes in an unfolding historical process, all students now have a better understanding of how to read and study the Bible in order to have a deeper, loving relationship with their Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Jeff emphasized again and again that the culmination of God’s redemptive activity in history, the most important moment, the central act of the drama, the climax of history, is the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is what humbles us and makes us so grateful to God for the generous support from Sovereign Grace to send Jeff to serve in Germany. Our hope is that God will use the Arche Pastors College to glorify his name in the land of the Reformation. God said to the apostle Paul, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:9–11).
Please join us in prayer that our triune God would build up a great people in Hamburg, in the rest of Germany, and throughout all of Europe to the nations. We thank you for all your prayers. Soli Deo gloria.
If you’re interested in supporting work overseas like this, prayerfully consider giving to our Mission Fund and designating your gift for “Global Missions - Where Needed Most.”
Markus is a pastor at Arche Church in Hamburg, Germany.
Crossway Church of Lancaster and Kingdom Life Church in Nassau, Bahamas have worked together and grown closer over the past number of years. Our churches became knit together when we sent Keith Bunting to Sovereign Grace Pastors College so that he could, with his family, relocate to Nassau to serve on the pastoral team. Since that time, Keith and his family have returned to the states to serve another sister church in Florida.
Because of our partnership in the gospel and in Sovereign Grace Churches, we have, for a number of years, wanted to serve Kingdom Life Church by sending a short-term team from Crossway to the Bahamas. This past May, we had a chance to do that.
Here is a recap from one of the team members, Lisa Evans:
Fourteen of us from Crossway Church traveled to New Providence Island, Bahamas, in May to serve in many capacities. The major project that faced us was replacing the roof at Kingdom Life Church. A crew of nine, with limited roofing skills but unlimited determination, worked tirelessly in the heat for four days straight, replacing about 40% of the roof and focusing on the areas that were in desperate need of repair.
While the roof team was sweating it out at Kingdom Life, the remainder of the team served at All Saints Camp. The Next Step Ministries website describes this camp best when it says, “The crumbling sidewalks and dilapidated cabins…tell the story of a neglected community, suffering from AIDS and HIV. Shunned for their illness, the residents have been placed in an area on the Island separate from the hustle and bustle of Nassau’s tourism and commerce. Despite the dreary conditions, many of the residents still find time to praise God for each and every day. Gospel music can be heard from almost every cabin.” It was a privilege to serve at All Saints. They are in the process of replacing housing for their 30 residents, so, under the able direction of Tim and Felicia Ryan (members at Kingdom Life Church), part of our job was to finish some of the last painting and help with the lunch program.
We also shared the gospel during our weeklong trip on one of the local beaches with members from Kingdom Life Church. It was wonderful linking arms with other believers to tell lost souls about Jesus Christ.
God certainly used our time together to build our faith. It’s wonderful to know that there is a sister church in the Bahamas proclaiming and advancing the gospel of Christ.
Partnership is sweet. Cedric Moss is a man of faith and faithfulness. Please pray for him and the church in Nassau as they continue to do the tireless work of gospel advancement.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. —Ephesians 4:15–16
Watch this slideshow to see more photos from the trip:
Kurt is a pastor at Crossway Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Barbara, have six children.
May 29–31, 2014 is definitely a high point in the life of our church.
It had been our prayer for many years to be able to offer to others from the many riches we have received by God’s mercy, especially from our rich heritage in Sovereign Grace. God granted us that opportunity to serve a group of pastors and leaders in a concentrated and, I believe, highly effective way.
A New Conference
Last May, we invited Pastor Miguel Núñez from the Dominican Republic to come for a two-day seminar on biblical leadership. That was our testing ground for a much-needed conference directed toward pastors and leaders. We had good participation that encouraged us to make a more intentional effort. So this year, we officially started Fieles a Su Llamado which means “Faithful to His Call.” It is a conference for pastors and leaders focused on training and encouraging men from Latin America to be faithful to Christ in their holy callings as proclaimers and teachers of the gospel.
One dynamic that changed from last year’s gathering is that we joined efforts with our sister churches in El Paso, Aguascalientes, and Arandas. And with encouragement from our Executive Director, Mark Prater, we presented the conference as a Sovereign Grace Mexico Regional event. Therefore, we specifically invited all those men who have been asking us for help and training for the purpose of planting churches with Sovereign Grace or who are interested in some sort of adoption by Sovereign Grace. So men came from the cities of Chihuahua, Durango, and Torreón, México, as well as from Cartago, Costa Rica and Palmas, Canary Islands.
We also invited men from churches with whom we have been working for several years like the Oasis Churches in El Salvador, “The Church from Guadalajara” in Mexico, and “Unidos en Cristo Bible Church” from Monterrey, Mexico. Representatives from congenial church families in Latin America (like the Horizontes Churches from Queretaro, Mexico) also joined us. They are quickly becoming strong friends and partners in our gospel mission. There were also many guests from other cities in Mexico, but our most surprising ones were two pastors that we were able to sponsor from the rural jungle mountains near Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico.
By God’s grace, the members of our church in Juarez completely financed the conference. The church worked for several months beforehand to raise the necessary funds. Several held bake sales in their neighborhoods, one young single girl donated her vacation money, others donated items for a huge yard sale, one donated his airline mileage points, and so on. Thus, we were able to pay for several pastors’ airfare and housing, make the conference and workshop affordable to all, give full scholarships to low-income pastors, give away many books and study tools, and pay for investments needed to upgrade our equipment so that we could transmit the conference live on the internet.
Reaching Beyond the Conference
Even though our goal was to serve this particular group of pastors, God increased our reach. In total, we hosted about 200 people, with pastors coming from 21 different cities and 6 different countries. We also had a wide international audience through our live stream. At one point, we had 3,000 people tune in from most Latin American countries, including 6 countries from Central America, 10 from South America, and 2 from the Caribbean.
Our conference included a three-day, pre-conference Expository Preaching Workshop, which 48 pastors attended. The workshop was sponsored by The Charles Simeon Trust, and it was their first workshop in continental Latin America. They generously donated all of their expenses. For our two-day conference, we invited Pastor Sugel Michelén from the Dominican Republic, who blew us away with some of the best world-class preaching and teaching on the gospel, the church, and preaching that we have ever heard. Pastor Luis Núñez from the Dominican Republic led us in worship. He is currently part of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville as he finishes his Masters degree from Southern Seminary. We enjoyed the refreshing presence of the Holy Spirit in our gatherings as well as rich fellowship that made the whole experience memorable.
The Work of God in Changing Lives
But the most encouraging highlight for me personally was hearing the testimonies from these pastors about the effect this event had on their lives. The main comment from the pastors was that the conference shaped their whole view of ministry. A couple of men ended up in tears as they pondered their past experience in light of their newfound zeal for the gospel. Several men shared with me that even though they very much appreciated the teaching and training, they were amazed at the way the dozens of conference volunteers lived out the gospel and served us.
Robert Kinney, the Executive Director of The Charles Simeon Trust, expressed it this way: “This is the highest compliment we can give: I don’t believe we have ever been received and served in such a gracious way as we have by this church. This seals our commitment to make Mexico one of our priorities.” To which I was able to reply: “This is only the fruit of what we have received through our many years as part of Sovereign Grace.” As we have heard many times, we have nothing to share with the world if our message is not being lived out in our own congregations. I am extremely grateful to God that he is enabling us to serve others by forming in our hearts a passion for the gospel and for his church throughout the world.
This experience confirms my belief that God is willing to use Sovereign Grace as a family of churches to plant and serve churches in many parts of Latin America. I see the hand of God moving us forward 1) through the affirmation and receptivity from the men seeking our help and support, 2) through the young men being raised up in our churches, and 3) through the evident gospel mission heart in the Mexican churches, displayed in their willingness to give to and serve other pastors and churches. We plan, God willing, on following up this coming year with the current church planting and adoption opportunities that seem to be confirmed and compelled by God. We need your support and help to be able to do this.
We are already planning on “Fieles a Su Llamado 2015.” While we don’t know what the future holds for us, we know there is great need. And we are already receiving inquiries from new groups as far as Argentina. So, please pray for us that we would be faithful to his glorious calling.
To support more gospel work in Mexico, donate here and designate your gift for “Strategic Global Project - Mexico.”
Thanks to Chris Graves of Cornerstone Church for his help in gathering the information for this post.
For the fourth time in four years, Cornerstone Church of Knoxville is sending a team to support gospel work in South Korea starting this Monday, June 2.
A partnership began between Cornerstone and Lord’s Grace Church in Seoul when senior pastor, Bill Kittrell, went to Seoul with Larry Malament in 2011. Larry introduced Bill to Songhwan Kang, who pastors Lord’s Grace Church, and his wife, Miran, and they quickly hit it off.
Cornerstone Church has since adopted Lord’s Grace Church by taking up special offerings to help their ministry, and Songhwan has preached twice in Knoxville at Cornerstone. Even at Cornerstone's most recent members meeting, Songhwan sent a video message about the trip. Both churches work hard to make the partnership more than name only.
Cornerstone is sending 17 people on this year’s team, including Bill and his wife, Cheri. They will host a conference focused on the gospel while they also lead an English camp for the children and youth.
Please pray for safety as the team travels to and from Seoul, for the church conference and English camp which will be take place from June 5–7, and for encouraging and fruitful times with church members at Lord’s Grace Church.
If you’d like to support gospel work like this, considering giving to our Mission Fund and designating your gift for South Korea.
+ original header photo from Flickr user Emmanuel DYAN.
One of our member churches, Iglesia Cristiana Gracia Soberana in Juarez, Mexico, is hosting a pastors conference May 29–31 called Faithful to His Call. Message topics will include the centrality of the gospel in ministry, the centrality of the church in God's purposes, and faithfulness in preaching in ministry.
Sugel Michelén, who pastors Iglesia Biblica del Señor Jesucristo in the Dominican Republic and serves on the council of The Gospel Coalition, will be the guest speaker for the event. Carlos Contreras, the senior pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Gracia Soberana, will also be speaking. There will also be a pre-conference Expository Preaching Workshop hosted by the Charles Simeon Trust.
Pastors from different cities in Mexico are attending, as well as pastors from several Southwest U.S. cities, Central America, and the Canary Islands. There will also be a live stream provided so that even more people can benefit from the conference.
If you're interested in attending, registration is available on the conference website (but please note that the Expository Preaching Workshop is already full). If you aren't able to attend, consider watching the conference on live stream. Information about the live stream will be posted on the website. Please join us in praying that the conference would be fruitful, that those there would be encouraged, and even that this conference would result in church plants in the future. If you’re interested in supporting work in Mexico like this, consider giving to our Mission Fund and designating your gift for Mexico.
Una de nuestras iglesias, Iglesia Cristiana Gracia Soberana en Juárez, México, organizará la conferencia para pastores “Fieles a Su Llamado”, del 29 al 31 de Mayo. Los temas incluyen la centralidad del evangelio en el ministerio, la centralidad de la iglesia en los propósitos de Dios, y la fidelidad en la predicación.
Sugel Michelén, pastor de la Iglesia Bíblica del Señor Jesucristo en la República Dominicana, y miembro del concilio de La Coalición por el Evangelio, será el predicador invitado del evento. Carlos Contreras, el pastor principal de Iglesia Cristiana Gracia Soberana, tambien predicará un mensaje. Además, previo a la conferencia habrá un taller sobre Predicación Expositiva por parte del Charles Simeon Trust.
Pastores de diferentes ciudades en México asistirán a esta conferencia, así como pastores de suroeste de Estados Unidos, de Centroamérica, y de las Islas Canarias. El evento será transmitido en vivo para beneficio de los que no puedan asistir.
Si le interesa asistir, puede registrarse en el sitio web de la conferencia. Tenga en cuenta que el taller de Predicación Expositiva ya está lleno. Si no puede asistir, considere la transmisión en vivo. La información sobre la transmisión en vivo será publicada en el sitio de la conferencia.
Por favor únanse a nosotros en oración para que esta conferencia dé mucho fruto, para que los que estén allí sean animados, y aun para que esta conferencia resulte en plantación de más iglesias en el futuro. Si está interesado en apoyar esta y otras obras en México, considere dar a nuestro Fondo de Misiones y especifíque que su contribución es para México.
The spiritual need in Germany and Europe is distressingly great. A considerable number of churches have left the gospel behind and follow the spirit of this age instead. Liberal theology and textual criticism questioning the authority and inerrancy of Scripture are popular beliefs. This sad development inevitably leads to a loss of trust in the Word of God and thus to a decline of the power of churches to shine as a light.
On the other hand, the hunger for the Word of God is great. We keep receiving requests from all over Germany to plant gospel-centered churches in other towns. We would love to do just that. At the same time, we know that such an endeavor requires men called and equipped by God for pastoral ministry. That is why we have called the Arche Pastors College into being.
We launched it in March of this year. It was a great joy to have Jeff Purswell come and teach Systematic Theology. All the students were deeply moved by the well-grounded talks that were rich in content, and in addition, always came back to the practical side of church ministry. Being not only a theologian, but also having a pastoral heart, Jeff Purswelll will, God willing, serve regularly as a teacher at the Arche Pastors College. This year, he will be teaching here two more times.
The students come from the Arche Church in Hamburg and from other places in Germany. In addition, there are also men from our partner churches in Russia and the Ukraine taking part in the Arche Pastors College.
We are very grateful to God for the support we are receiving from Sovereign Grace. I myself had the privilege of studying at the Pastors College of Sovereign Grace as well as some other men from the Arche Church, and we experience the lasting blessing of this training. We experienced first-hand what sound theological training looks like, which always takes into consideration the practical ministry in the church as well as the development of the students’ character. All of this serves us as an example for Germany and Europe. We see it as a gift from God that Jeff Purswell actively supports the Arche Pastors College by teaching and counseling.
The Arche Pastors College needs much prayer support. The Word of God says: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand“ (Proverbs 19:21). We want to do nothing except walk in the will of God. And because it is God who has put this project on our heart, we are confident that he who began the good work will bring it to completion. Thank you for all your prayers.
On February 23, Eglise Chretienne Reformee DHaiti (Christian Reformed Church of Haiti) had its first public meeting in a new building that was recently rebuilt after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti destroyed their previous building.
Sovereign Grace partnered with La IBI (Iglesia Bautista Internacional) in the Dominican Republic, pastored by Miguel Nuñez, to finance the reconstruction of this church building. Felipe Castro, an associate pastor at La IBI, visited for the first meeting.
This work in Haiti was possible because of the partnership we share with La IBI and because of the funds given to the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund we set up in 2010. To those of you who generously gave, thank you!
Below you’ll see some photos of the first meeting of the church. The text on the front of the building, underneath the church name, says “Donated by Sovereign Grace Ministries” followed by “received through IBI International.” Join us in praying that God would bless Christian Reformed Church of Haiti in their gospel witness as they begin to use this new building!
March 5, 2014 by
Categories: Germany | International
This week, Jeff Purswell is in Germany serving Arche Church, our partner church in Hamburg. Jeff shared some details about the trip and the partnership Sovereign Grace shares with this church.
I’ll be with the Arche Gemeinde, our partner church in Hamburg, Germany, teaching a systematic theology course (including Introduction to Systematic Theology and the doctrine of revelation and Scripture) to a group of pastors Friday–Tuesday and preaching at the church on Sunday. The pastoral team of the Arche, some of their emerging leaders and pastors they’re serving and relating to in Germany will be attending the course, as well as pastors from Russia and Ukraine.
Over the past few years, Christian Wegert and the team at the Arche have increasingly had a burden for church planting in Germany and surrounding countries. This year, they planted their first church in the nearby city of Stade. Their vision is to “bring the gospel to the land of the Reformation!”
To this end, they are intent on starting a Pastors College for the training of pastors and church planters. This course represents the first installment of an eventual Pastors College they’d like to begin. As Christian said in an email to me this week, “We are all very excited to see the PC in Germany start in a couple of days!” This is the first of three courses I’ll be teaching this year in Hamburg, and I’m working with the pastors there to strategize for future courses and training opportunities. They are supplementing these courses with internships and pastoral ministry courses taught by the Arche pastors in a multi-layered approach to training leaders for the mission of the gospel.
It is a tremendous privilege to partner with the Arche. It is the largest Reformed evangelical church in Germany with a broad influence extending throughout Germany and beyond. Our bonds with this church are strong: two members of their pastoral team have attended the Pastors College, including Christian Wegert, their senior pastor. C.J. Mahaney and I have had the joy of participating in their annual church conference—Eckstein—for the past two years, and we’ve been enriched and encouraged by the wisdom and gifting of the pastors on their team, including their founding pastor, Wolfgang Wegert, who continues to serve the church locally and in its outreach beyond Hamburg.
On October 15, before our team serving in the Philippines returned home, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Bohol, Philippines. We are so grateful that Bob Kauflin and his team all got back to the U.S. safely! Nevertheless, the damage in the Philippines is significant.
We have an opportunity to help with the relief efforts in the Philippines through Brian Baluca and Pete Valdez, pastors of Sovereign Grace Church in Tagbilaran City, Bohol. Both Brian and Pete have been to our Pastors Conference and have been instrumental in hosting Lynn Baird and Tony Walsh when they have taught and ministered in Bohol. Brian, Pete, and their church are taking supplies, help, and the gospel to people all over the island of Bohol. The needs there are significant: food, drinking water, and basic needs, not to mention the challenge of rebuilding or repairing homes and buildings.
We can have a direct impact by donating to a disaster relief fund set up by Sovereign Grace Church in Pasadena, California, which will be sent to Sovereign Grace Church in Tagbilaran City. The church in Bohol has already been meeting needs around them with their limited means, and our giving can provide a much-needed infusion of funds to further their ability to help. Please consider giving to this vital need!
God has given Sovereign Grace many opportunities for partnership with churches in the Philippines, largely because Sovereign Grace pastors like Lynn Baird and Tony Walsh have been faithful to go and minister there over the last 10 years. They have built relationships with Brian, Pete, and other pastors, including Cornelio Ebo, who pastors a church in Cebu, attended our Pastors College, and took primary responsibility for organizing the WorshipGod Conference that was just held in Cebu. (Read Bob Kauflin’s summary of that conference and the other worship events in the Philippines for more details.) Supporting the disaster relief efforts in Bohol is one way we can serve our brothers and sisters in the Philippines.
Donations can be sent to Sovereign Grace Church, Pasadena, via their online giving (marked Disaster Relief).