Church Plant Update
Althea International Church, Munich
Launched: July 2, 2017
Pastors: Bernd and Ryoko Armbruster
In this FEIC Member Spotlight, Jeff Slaughter checks in with Pastor Bernd Armbruster one year after the launch of Aletheia International Church in Munich, Germany. We discuss his growth, successes and challenges and how FEIC members can pray for and support the church.
Jeff: When did you start your church and where have you been meeting?
Bernd: We have started with a small group in autumn 2016 and had our first service on July 02nd 2017. We currently hold a service every other week. The Sundays between we hold a small group meeting. So far everything has been happening at our home.
Jeff: Describe the growth you’ve experienced since launching.
Bernd: We started “from nothing” to an average attendance of 15-20 each Sunday. In total we have 25-30 people who come regularly. (Though this number is going down a bit these days, due to job transfers, oversees semesters, etc.)
Jeff: Can you share some situations where you guys have seen God come through miraculously since you started the church?
Bernd: Sure. I can share several examples:
We have stories of God bringing ‘founding members’ to us. We have some amazing stories about how people heard about our church and decided to join while we were still living in Shanghai.
There are stories of things happening just when the time was right (e.g. we had one member who didn’t want to join the worship team for months in our small group, though she had led before in her previous church in China. But when we had our first service, she suddenly stepped up and volunteered to lead. She loves doing it now. Similar things happened when it was time to form a leadership team and when we registered legally. We waited for months and nothing moved. And then one day, several things happened at the same time, allowing us to move forward!
We also have testimonies of how God has provided financially for our family’s needs just when it was needed.
Jeff: Tell me about one of the most challenging situations you’ve experienced since launching.
We are currently in a very interesting situation. Everything has been growing and moving forward, our home has become too small for our meetings, and we have been pushing hard to find an outside location and make the necessary financial investment to rent an outside place. Now that we unexpectedly lost several members, we are now trying to figure out, what the next steps are.
Jeff: Can you share some stories about people who have found you and how your ministry has helped them?
Bernd: Sure, we have some great ones:
One guy, who was baptized in August, came out of a very sinful lifestyle and we have seen great progress in him.
We have seen quite some progress in one of our students who has surrendered a lot of her life to God. Once, I had to have a tough conversation with her and I thought she was going to leave the church. But now she has fully embraced God’s moral teaching and is much more obedient. To use her own words: “I understand now much better what my identity is and what it truly means to live in my identity.”
One person who was not a Christian when he joined us now has a real heart to seek God first in every aspect of his life. He prays daily, reads the Bible, and really tries to discern God’s will for his life.
Jeff: Tell us about your city, it’s spiritual climate and how you are trying to reach internationals there.
Bernd: Religion (as taught in school) and comfort! Those are the two stumbling blocks that really make it difficult for people to open up to the gospel. People think they know about Jesus (but they don’t), and many people have no material needs.
Jeff: What are your current needs and how can we pray for you?
Bernd: We have two main needs right now:
An outside location for our Sunday Services
Financial support, so that I can dedicate more time to the church, and don’t have to spend as much time on my freelance work, without jeopardizing my family’s financial situation.
Larry Henderson, director of FEIC and pastor of Vienna Christian Center adds, “This is a critical and strategic time in the life of Althea International Church in Munich. I strongly encourage our FEIC family to join me and VCC to get behind Pastor Bernd and the Aletheia family by making a financial missions commitment to help support them for 1-2 years with a monthly offering. Please contact Bernd at [email protected] and let’s help one of our newest church plants establish a strong launch in Munich.”