We recently sat down with Dr. Stephen Darnell, field director of Europe, to find out what God is doing in his area. (Excerpts of this interview originally appeared in Evangel Magazine.)
Give a general overview of what God is currently doing in your area.
Although at one time Europe was responsible for spreading revival across the western world and Africa, today it’s considered as The Dark Continent. Many countries within Europe, the Middle East, CIS, and Russia qualify as Unreached People Groups. However, today in many areas we are seeing both revival and spiritual renewal sweep across vast regions.
- We now have 40 churches in operation in Moscow, Russia.
- The Ukraine has seen more than 6,000 souls saved within the past 4 years.
- Poland has increased from 5 churches to 60 churches within the past 15 years.
- Literally thousands of people are gathering in Church of God National Conventions in places like Austria, Romania, Belgium, and England, only to name a few.
- The student body of our Church of God Eurasia Theological Seminary in Russia has tripled in the past 3 years and boast of more than 1,200 students. ETS Russia is one of the few Evangelical Schools in Russia that is Licensed by the Russian Ministry of Education and is fully accredited by the E-AAA and is recognized by the Church of God Division of Education as Level IV Certified.
- A revival is taking place among the Roma people. Macedonia has reported housing the fastest growing Roma congregation in that country. Bulgaria has established one of the top three Roma churches in that country.
- On the Sea of Galilee, Israel, the Church of God National Overseer of Israel, Bishop Gary Hull, serves as station manager of The Voice of Hope radio station. Daily, 24/7 the gospel of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed in Arabic to populations of over 40 million living in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Cypress, and Israel.
- England, Dubai, Czech Republic, France, Israel, and Belgium have established strong ministry/discipleship training centers.
- Our 3 orphanages in the war-torn Ukraine continue to reach into the devastation of displaced families and children providing shelter and humanitarian aid to thousands of needy people.
- At this time we have new church plants/relaunch church projects active in not less than 25 countries. Countries with plants include, but are not limited to: Spain, Russia, the Netherlands, France, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, Kuwait, Oman, UAE, Italy, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and the Ukraine.
- Europe, the Middle East, and the CIS are training up and placing missionaries across our continent. Local church congregations in Europe are reaching into the French-speaking Africans and Ukrainians in Belgium; the Hungarians, Filipinos, and Indonesians in the Netherlands; the Filipinos in Italy; the Romanians in Italy and Spain; and the Congolese in Belgium. New missionaries are being sponsored by European congregations in the country of Morocco on the northern tip of Africa.
- The European Theological Seminary in Kniebis, Germany have restructured the semester formation beginning in the fall 2019, and will be operating per semester by modular classes. In the fall of 2019, online classes were offered for the first time with the projected goal of all degree programs being offered online by 2021.
- Per the direction of Dr. Paul Schmidgall, educational opportunities are now being offered by through The Margret Gaines Intercultural Ministry Center on The Mount of Olives, Israel.
- Intercessory Prayer Networks are in effect in Bulgaria, Italy, Croatia, Serbia, Prague, Latvia, the Ukraine, Russia, and Central Europe.
- Ten years ago, Dr. Martin Mutyebele, the late senior pastor of the New Jerusalem Church of God in Brussels, Belgium, launched a vision to build a hospital near the capital city of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Today the hospital is fully functional and is a bright, shining light in the darkness, both spiritually and materially.
How has Church of God World Missions helped the people and ministries of your field area?
Words are inadequate to express the importance of Church of God World Missions. The global ministry of World Missions is the lifeline to Europe, the Middle East, and the CIS.
Most are aware that the majority of all funding for our projects flows through World Missions. However, the greater value is the network provided by the denominational structure. World Missions enables our colleges and institutions to co-share and collaborate much needed staff, professors and adjunct teachers. A large majority of our ministerial training for pastoral staffs, new church plant pastors, and leadership training is provided through visiting groups led by the World Missions network. Interaction between key leaders such as field directors, superintendents, and national overseers is made possible by Church of God World Missions. Mentoring from the offices of Dr. David M. Griffis, director, and Dr. M. Thomas Propes, assistant director, brings wisdom and clarity. The Church of God World Missions Board pronounces purpose and stability. The World Missions International Office working family extends encouragement and professional assistance in every way. Thus, that which is accomplished is done to the glory of God and success is gleaned as a result of everyone fulfilling their role in World Missions ministry.
What are some of the current needs you see?
While there are numerous events scheduled across our continent, one of the most important events scheduled for Europe/Middle East/CIS/Russia is a called Solemn Assembly, scheduled in February 2020. This assembly will convene at the European Theological Seminary in Kniebis, Germany. This will be a time of corporate prayer and repentance, a time set aside for listening and recovery. I see this as the posturing of reformation and the discerning of all that is needed to innovate a missional direction for the completion of the FINISH Commitment Challenge. From this meeting, following a time of fasting and sincere prayer, I truly believe that out of His presence will emerge greater purpose and community that will catapult this part of our world into an awakening and revival.