EAST EUROPE MISSION HUB
Enter Fields with Emerging Needs
The Eastern European mission field includes countries in the Balkans with a history of ethnic conflicts, religious tensions, and territorial disputes, earning it the nickname “the powder depot of Europe.” There are currently 11 countries on the Balkan Peninsula. Yugoslavia, which was previously a powerful economic force in the region, dissolved into seven republics: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (short name B/H), Serbia, Kosovo (not universally recognized), Montenegro, and North Macedonia. The dissolution of Yugoslavia led to a series of wars, including the Slovenian War (1991), Croatian War (1991-1995), Bosnian War (1992-1995), and Kosovo War (1996-1999), resulting in economic instability and political turmoil. Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia, is located at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers, the second largest river in Europe, passing through nine countries before emptying into the Black Sea.
Preach the Gospel
Starting in Budapest, Hungary in 1998, GLEC assisted in establishing local Chinese churches, sending missionaries to shepherd, and training coworkers and evangelists. In addition to strengthen the faith foundation of church members through theological training; GLEC also preached the gospel in the marketplace with brothers and sisters, and experienced God’s miraculous work in people’s hearts.
After the Hungary church became selfsupported in 2003, GLEC mission turned then to the neighboring country Serbia in 2004 to evangelize in responding to God’s call. There, the missionaries helped to set up home groups and gospel outreaching places, and to assist in establishing churches as the gospel ministry need it. In Serbia, Chinese churches were set up in capital city Belgrade, and in Pancevo, few kilometers away from capital; serving local Chinese most of whom were merchants. In 2015, a gospel outreaching place was opened in B/H, and later on was grown into a church in 2016. In the year of 2015 to 2016, a gospel outreaching place also developed into a church in Croatia, a neighboring country to the north of B/H.
In each city, brothers and sisters, although scattered around, always preached the gospel in nearby town markets and visited their families after work. By God’s guidance, the gospel groups and outreaching places of need were established. One scripture often comes to the mind of brothers and sisters: “Jesus went through all the towns and villages …. But when he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were distressed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (ref. Matthew 9:35-36).
- Theological training in local churches: GLEC sees equipping potential persons to serve the church is a top priority strategy. We periodically designed theological training courses for local churches on practical needs. There is always an assessment and a following-up of the learning process; by providing class guidance and administration counseling for the co-workers. Brothers and sisters are expected to grow spiritually, and to grow in church’s pastoral and ministerial balance. Certificates of different course subjects are awarded when each credit is completed.
The goal of GLEC’s training is also to equip local believers to help pastors’ of church ministry. In 2008 brother Junsheng Xiang from the Serbian church is willing to join the theological training to become a pastor who may shepherd the church in the future. Thanks to God, pastors from other oversea churches, organizations, such as the Mandarin Baptist Church of Pasadena in California, the Rutgers Community Christian Church in New Jersey, and many other pastors from churches in North America have participated in training and become close mission partners to equip Junsheng Xiang. Occasionally, short-term mission teams from Chinese churches of other countries also offer opportunities to the churce of learning in the workshop subjects.
- Cross-nation training in the mission hub: Since 2016, GLEC’s coworkers have established an online platform for a remote theological training and a church pasturing ministry through social Medias. Consolidating GLEC’s “multimedia ministry” with “online evangelism ministry,” various materials are sent to specific groups through media such as texts, images, and videos, including sermons, Bible question answering, spiritual reflections, caring, and prayers. Since 2021, cross- nation theological teaching has been established online, with local co-workers connecting to form learning groups, including students from Serbia, B/ H, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and other countries. Certificates for different subjects are also awarded upon completion of each credit.
- Church youth camps and summer camps: Since 2019, GLEC has sent missionaries to assist the Chinese youth ministry of the Serbian church, including young students, professional youths, and young married couples in the marketplace. East European Chinese Youth Camps are regularly held, including young people from Serbia, Bulgaria, B/H, Spain, and other places, as well as students living abroad. Church ministers of Taiwan are also invited to participate, and to cooperate with churches associated to Taiwan GLEC’s platform. Special events of real and on-line gatherings are regularly held, including the Serbian church, Pancevo church, the Bulgarian church, the B/H church, and the Croatian church, etc.
Plant Reproducible Local Churches
The religions in Eastern European countries are mainly Orthodox, but Christian missions are respected. Based on the Serbian Church, GLEC has established churches in surrounding countries.
- Serbian Church: They became self-supported in the end of 2012, with GLEC continuing to send missionaries to Belgrade to assist in training leaders. Since 2014 special outreach meetings, such as Christmas evangelistic events, are regularly held including local Serbians people. The church also developed various communitywide ministries, such as the Roma people ministry, the different cultural exchange exhibit, the war refugee ministry, the recent Chinese immigrant ministry, and the assistance in kindergarten ministry, etc.
- Pancevo Church: The church is pasteurized by the Serbian Church in sermons and prayer meetings, with local co-workers leading Bible studies. Chinese people mostly gather in nearby malls, but due to the declining business, many merchants have moved to other cities and the church has changed its meeting style to small groups. Still, in the church, brothers and sisters have faithfully served the Lord over the years, and local co-workers have been persistent in serving this church to spread the Gospel.
- Leskovac Church (Gospel outreaching place): The Leskovac Church in Serbia has been supervised by the Serbian Church for preaching and prayer meetings over the years, and it takes about four hours to drive there. Occasionally, short-term mission teams from North American churches also come to help. In recent years, due to the transformation of market places, many businesses stores have moved away from the area, while several others remain stayed and continued to have meetings at the Gospel outreaching place. This church maintains a very good relationship with the local Roma people Church, which is helpful for Chinese church’s participation in cross-cultural ministries to the Roma people.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (B/H) Church: A Gospel outreaching place was established in B/H in 2015, which grew into a church in 2016. Initially, Reverend Xiang Junsheng from the Serbian Chinese Church was invited to oversee the church ministries with the co-workers assisting in the pastoral care of the church. A team from a Hungarian Chinese church was also invited to help organize Sunday sermon meetings. Recently, Reverend Huang Daomin and his wife are sent to B/H as resident pastors to take care of the church. The church’s ministries include gospel outreaching in shopping malls, doing cross-cultural charity works for the people needed, and visiting newly-come Chinese immigrants. In 2021, they purchased a new church building which is located in the center of the mall, making it convenient for brothers and sisters to come to worship, and to facilitate the ministry of gospel outreach.
- Croatia Church: A Gospel outreaching place of the Croatia was established at the same time as B/H church was started in 2015, and was later developed into a church in 2016. The church desperately needs to educate future pastors and co-workers in Theology and the church administration. For now, Reverend Huang Daomin and his wife are designated as pastors to pasteurize the church. During the pandemic in 2022, the church members gathered together using online facilities. The church ministries include visiting new comers in shopping malls, establishing appropriated Gospel outreaching places, looking for Chinese merchants in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, and visiting gospel friends in neighboring country Slovenia through online platforms.
Engage in Local Cross-Cultural Ministries
There is an opportunity with God’s grace to participate more extensively in the Roma ministry, including collecting needs on the Roma people and evaluating the partnership between Chinese churches and Roma churches in order to better serve this community. In addition to sharing the Roma vision to Chinese churches, there is a need to understand deeply of the mission entrusted, external ministry connections, and resource integration. Now the Serbian Chinese Church is involved in not only Roma ministry, but also Serbian people ministry, such as cross-cultural music evangelism. Due to the limitations in talents and language barrier, Roma ministry is confined to charitable services, while Serbian people ministry involves participation in joint prayer meetings and large-scale evangelistic events for Serbian audiences, such as music evangelism events. There is also a refugee ministry for war refugees in the Middle East, and the B/H Church is also doing emergency relief for the Roma people in the area.
To bring the abundant life of Jesus Christ
To people, family, community, and the world
Through mission, education, and charity
GLEC ministry in the European mission field began with theological education. In 2002, we started offering courses under the name “GLEC Evangelical Theological Seminary” in Budapest, Rome, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, and London, which have trained over 300 graduates. During this time, missionary couple Zheng Rayming established a kindergarten in Serbia, providing a child education option for the local Chinese community. We also plan to establish gospel ministries for Chinese professionals, engineers, and tourists who have recently entered Serbia. These professionals, including those in finance, technology, management, and engineering, represent another area of opportunity. Since these new professionals are young and often have children with them, the kindergarten will need to expand or find new locations to accommodate their children, which will be a significant need.
GLEC also assists local churches in hosting spiritual retreats and various training courses. We have designed family camps and youth spiritual retreats for young people. Minister Jake Lai is responsible for youth ministry and has joined the youth ministry in Eastern Europe. Chinese young people from several Southeast European countries participate in the annual Eastern Europe camp. We also do cross-cultural ministry, hoping to provide various assistance to the Roma people. In addition to participating in the Roma ministry, the New Bethany Chinese Church can also cooperate with the Serbian ministry, such as cross-cultural music evangelistic meetings. Due to language limitations, the Chinese Church’s Roma ministry is currently focus on charity services, and the Serbian ministry only involves with joint prayer meetings and various evangelistic meetings targeting the Serbian people, so that the power of the gospel can be prevailed to different communities.