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Entries in Germany (15)


CBC Students Visit Berlin & Cologne

CBC-Colorado staff and students in front of the Berlin Cathedral, Oberpfarr- und Domkirche (Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church). (Click to enlarge)Germany has become a ministry hotspot for Charis Bible College students from Colorado. While every CBC mission trip offers its participants ample opportunity to pour out the love of God in the surroundings of a foreign land, the teams that have visited Berlin over the past few years seem to have had decidedly different experiences than that of the other teams. Perhaps it is because street ministry in Germany more closely resembles ministry in a metropolitan American setting than that of a third-world nation; the people, with whom the ministry is shared, are just as needy in spirit, but they are not trapped by economic shortage. Whatever the case, to see those whose bondage stems more from having society's advantages, than from poverty and lack, receive Christ, provides a different sense of joy.

Students performing a drama in the center of Berlin, Alexanderplatz, with the International World Clock in the background. (Click to enlarge)In mid-April, 23 students and three leaders from Colorado Springs, including, CBC Mission Coordinator, Michelle Patterson, visited Cologne and Berlin. For nearly two weeks, the Colorado team was hosted by Jeff and Barb Serio and their Berlin-based ministry, European Initiative, and they spent most of their time ministering on the streets and in the open spaces of both cities.

Some aspects of the street ministry were a stretch for one CBC student, Justin McCormick. "I was way outside of my element," Justin said, "Dancing and skits just aren't my thing. However, I was committed to doing the Lord's work."

Although Justin soon realized that the trip was not about what he was comfortable with, but about blessing the people of Germany, he found that he was having limited success ministering to After watching one of the street performances, the two young ladies (left of center) had just received Jesus.
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the people after each performance. Justin asked God to show him what the problem was, and God quickly responded. Justin said, "I asked God, 'What's the deal?' He said, 'Quit leaning unto your own understanding. Trust me, and I will fill your mouth.'"

Instantly, Justin thought of Proverbs 3:5-6 and Revelation 12:11, and with newfound boldness, he approached two girls from the crowd and began to tell them about the skit they had just watched. As he spoke, he asked if they had ever heard of Jesus, to which they both replied, "No." As he shared Christ, he stopped mid-sentence and looked at the girl to his left and said, "You have heard of Jesus. In fact, you have heard a lot about Him, and have been considering asking Him into your heart." The girl began to cry, and the Holy Spirit prompted Justin to share more with her. Moments later, she accepted Marcus Gresham (second from right) stands with some young men who received Jesus as their Savior.
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Jesus as her Savior.

"On this trip I learned to trust God and let Him do the work. I stepped out in faith, and He did the rest," said Justin.

CBC student, Marcus Gresham, also found that as he spoke to the people of Germany, the Lord filled his mouth with His words. Marcus said, "Sometimes I spoke to groups as large as ten people. No matter the size, the Holy Spirit downloaded everything to me that I was to say to them. It was just like the instructors of CBC have taught—God will give you the right words to speak in that moment of time. The results were astounding! I personally was able to see 33 people make the decision to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior."

The CBC team working with another ministry, Christliches Jugendzentrum Orenienburg, to help remodel a home to be used for child foster care.
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Another CBC student, Tim Spadino, came across a group of Muslim students visiting from nearby Belgium. Tim found that one student was suffering with pain from a broken knee, and he offered to pray for him. "I offered to pray and he accepted, so Jeff [Serio] and I put our hands on his knee and commanded the pain to leave. Then I asked him to move it around, and he got super excited and started running around and saying, 'It's a miracle!' His teachers came over and asked what was going on. With a big smile, I told them to ask the boy about his knee. Then I got to tell them that Jesus was the One that healed him. They had to leave before anybody could accept Jesus, but I'm confident that this will change their view about Jesus—a little bit."

Letting Jesus' light shine in Germany—Hard to miss enthusiasm like this! (Click to enlarge)With each mission trip to Germany, more and more seeds are planted in the hearts of the German people, and the harvest for each team continues to grow. “This is my third time to lead a team to Germany, and I can see God moving, opening doors and transforming lives. The first team we took in 2011, only saw two people receive Christ. In 2012, we saw 44 salvations, and now this year, we had 121 people to accept Christ during our street ministry...The people are hungry, searching and opening up to receive," said Michelle.


Gunar and Shirley Gerthe: Fire Starters

Gunar and Shirley Gerthe stand in front of a painting done by a church member and friend. (Click to enlarge)Charis Bible College graduates, Gunar and Shirley Gerthe, have heard the Lord's call and traded a well-established life and ministry in Texas for life on the mission field in Germany. The Gerthes, who graduated from CBC-Dallas, are the Directors of the brand new CBC extension school in Birkenfeld. Although the couple grew up, married and raised their family primarily in Texas, this journey is a homecoming of sorts for Gunar—he was born in Dessau, Germany in 1939. Gunar's family moved to America in the early 1950's when he was 13.

Gunar owned an automotive repair shop in Rockdale, Texas. (Click to enlarge)It was in the 1960's that Gunar and Shirley began their life together. In the seventies, after spending several years in Boulder, Colorado, the Gerthes, including their two sons and daughter, returned to Texas and settled in Rockdale. Gunar established his own automotive repair business and Shirley worked for Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA). As they moved through life's routines and raised their children, they built a solid foundation around family, church and work.

Since the early 80's, when Gunar was born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit, he has consistently developed his The Gerthe's leap into ministry... Rockdale Outreach Center.
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relationship with the Lord. During a personal retreat, Gunar spent several days in prayer and fasting at the water's edge of the Brazos River in Texas. Through his time with the Lord, he understood that God had called him to ministry. On his way home from the river, he began to process what the shift to ministry would entail, and he knew he would have to sell his business.

After Gunar's return, he shared with Shirley what the Lord had revealed to him, and a short time later, he met with a trusted friend and told him of his plans. Inside the youth ministry center.
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In agreement that Gunar should sell his business, the two men went and walked Gunar's business property, praying for buyers to come forward. A few weeks later, three men approached Gunar and offered to buy the property. They paid the exact price the Lord told Gunar to ask, and the shift to full-time ministry began.

Gunar wasted no time moving on what the Lord showed him; his first mission was to start a ministry for the youth in the Rockdale community. For that, he and Shirley needed a building. Gunar visited a local Real Estate agency to see what The Gerthes saw many kids give their lives to Christ. (Click to enlarge)was available. Within ten minutes of meeting an agent, Gunar had found a building that would meet his needs for a youth center, and on top of that, he had a received a commitment from the realtor for $200 per month in support for the ministry. Rockdale Outreach Center was born.

Soon the Gerthes were hosting between 50 and 80 kids on Saturday nights, sometimes more. The facility was full every weekend, and kids were coming from all over the area. The Gerthes would see many young people come to the Lord every time they gathered.Shirley and Gunar in class as third year students in Dallas. (Click to enlarge)

While this was a fulfilling start into ministry, Gunar began to recognize a greater need. As time went by, he would see the kids who had gotten saved slip back into old habits. Gunar realized that they were making lots of converts, but not many disciples. Gunar changed his approach to reaching the community and set his sights on including the adults. In 1996, the Gerthes founded Grace Vineyard Ministries Inc., and started a church.

The Gerthes watching Andrews Gospel Truth program. (Click to enlarge)As it became evident to Gunar that the people needed to be discipled, He and Shirley came across Andrew on TV. Andrew's teaching, Spirit, Soul & Body transformed Gunar's understanding. As they continued to listen and watch Andrew, their desire to know God increased to the point that the Gerthes decided to order CBC's Correspondence Curriculum. They received the materials and opened an in-church class, where they hosted seven other students as they worked through CBC's first-year courses.

Gunar ministering to to a man while on the Gerthe's mission trip to Germany in 2011.
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After celebrating the completion of the first year, the Gerthes felt the need to go further with their studies. Although they wanted to attend CBC-Dallas, ministry obligations, travel time to Dallas and finances stood in their way. As he and Shirley considered what to do, a group of men approached Gunar, out of the blue, and said they were interested in using the Grace Vineyard Ministries' building for a heavy equipment school. The men explained that they only needed the facility weekdays, and they offered to pay all the building's utilities on top of their rent. Suddenly, the Gerthes had the provision to go to Dallas. The partnership with the heavy equipment school paid for every penny of the Gerthes time at CBC, tuition, travel and a place to stay during the week in Dallas.

Over the course of their time in Dallas, it became evident that the Lord was calling Gunar and Shirley to ministry in Germany. Nearly identical prophetic words were shared by several The Gerthes with their staff, Gaby Wiesmann, and CBC-Colorado graduate and German native Christoph Paetzoldt, von unten im treppenhaus (from the bottom of the staircase). (Click to enlarge)unrelated people, acknowledging the work to which God was calling Gunar. Their experience in Germany on their second-year mission trip further solidified their call and bolstered their desire to go. In 2011, after packing second and third year classes into one school year, Gunar and Shirley graduated. When they finished, they were more passionate about the work of the Lord than ever.

As you will see in the video below, the Gerthe's, now in their seventies, have faced significant challenges on their road to ministry in Germany, but because of their experience and faith in God, Gunar predigen (preaching) the Word in Germany. (Click to enlarge)they are running the race the Lord has set before them; they are well seasoned, and they are going to make disciples in Birkenfeld. “God is no respecter of age. Age is just a number, and right now, we don’t feel those numbers. We just feel there’s a call and a purpose, and we want to get on with it,” said Shirley with a twinkle.

What follows is a video detailing the amazing story of the Gerthe's call to rekindle fires in Germany and a documented account of the enemy's attempt to thwart God's plan for them. Be sure to watch this faith-building journey to see how our Lord empowered Shirley to save Gunar's life.



CBC-Colorado Broke through the Wall in Berlin

This team of CBC-Colorado students had great success ministering to the people of Berlin. (Click to enlarge)A team of short-term missionaries from CBC-Colorado reaped a harvest on a recent trip to Germany. The 23 member team led by CBC Missions Coordinator, Michelle Patterson, joined forces with their hosts Jeff and Barb Serio in Berlin. The Serios are the founders of European Initiative, a ministry whose mission is to mobilize teams of Christians and leaders A powerful time of worship held near the Brandenburg Gate. (Click to enlarge)to partner with European churches and ministries to advance God’s Kingdom.

This is the third team from Colorado to minister on the streets of Berlin in the past 18 months. While the previous two teams spent much of their time planting the seed of God's Word and ministering to seemingly skeptical crowds, the most recent team was blessed to witness hearts and lives in transformation. Not only did they see the fruit of their own ministry, but also that of previous teams' efforts. This team saw 44 Berliners and Europeans receive Christ during their outreaches, and hundreds more were engaged in one-on-one conversations.Students ministered in a variety of settings. There were many opportunities for individual conversation and prayer.
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One CBC student, Karen Buhrke, saw breakthrough in her own life while ministering to the people of Berlin. She had grown up singing in church, but when she was in her late teens she had gotten up to perform a solo and made a mistake that traumatized her. Karen had choked in front of everyone. In those moments on the platform, she made a decision never to sing a solo again. For nine years she harbored the anxiety of singing on a serious level in front of people. Nearly a decade later, she found herself standing in front of the crowds on the streets of Berlin—microphone in hand. Sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading, Karen began to hear God speaking to her. "I heard the Lord tell me 'Get the microphone and sing Nothing But the Blood of Jesus.'" All that anxiety from years ago rose up and she was terrified. As hard as it was, Karen chose to listen to the encouragement of the Lord. She stepped forward, grabbed the microphone and sang her heart out.CBC student, Karen Buhrke, overcame nine years of anxiety in Berlin and she began to sing her heart out for the Lord. (Click to enlarge)

Karen's team leaders were astounded, and most of the team members were crying. Karen said, "I felt the blood of Jesus wash all over the city, and it was at that moment that I made a decision to no longer live my life by my circumstances, but live my life by the cross. "Another student, Ashley Tomlinson, said after her trip, "I will never be the same." She shared the Gospel with two 13-year-old girls and afterwards, had the privilege of leading them in the prayer of Salvation. While that experience is a priceless one, it was more of a shock to Ashley because the two girls had never heard the name, "Jesus."

CBC student, Ashley Tomlinson, enjoyed the team's skits and dancing with the Berliners. Here the locals joined in the team in dance. (Click to enlarge)Ashley said, "It broke my heart, and was a huge wake up call to realize that there really are people in this world that have never even heard our Savior's name. I mean I have heard that, but when you encounter it, it becomes more than hearsay. It becomes reality; it's in your face and you are left with a decision on what you're going to do with it." Ashley went on to say, "I'm no longer okay with just day-to-day living when there are people around me living without Life. It's ignited a fire in me for the lost that I didn't have before...May this fire that has started in my heart fan into flames and never, ever be quenched!

Be sure to check out the video below, produced by Jeff and his team at European Initiative.