October 4 - October 19

We're delighted that you will participate in the 2017 International Church Planter Intensive. This will be your "web home" while you're in New York City, so please continue checking back here for the latest information. 

During the International Intensive you'll take part in seminars led by Redeemer City to City (CTC) faculty, Tim Keller, and other leaders. On Sundays, you'll visit different New York City church plants and have an opportunity to interact with NYC pastors. Many Intensives (what CTC calls participants) keep in touch with one another - and us - years after their training is completed. 

Everyone at CTC looks forward to meeting you.


Each participant of the Intensive is housed in corporate apartments either in Hoboken, New Jersey or Jersey City, New Jersey. These apartments are beautiful, clean and very accessible to the Redeemer offices. Each apartment comes equipped with a full kitchen and there are grocery stores within walking distance.

Housing begins: The evening of Monday, October 2
Housing ends: The morning of Friday, October 20

Redeemer City to City will cover the costs of your individual housing during the Intensive. Your spouse and children are welcome in New York City during the Intensive; however, you must cover the additional cost of housing them.

If you come to New York by yourself, you will be housed at no cost to you in a shared room with another participant of the program - either in a one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment.

If you come with your spouse, you will be housed in either a one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment with another couple.

If you come with children, we will work out the arrangement with you individually - either to share an apartment with another family or to be housed in an apartment by yourselves. Below is an average breakdown of what you can expect to pay if you decide to bring a spouse / children.

• If you request a one-bedroom apartment for you and your spouse [and infant if applicable] the cost to you will be between $4,100 - $4,600.

• If you request a two-bedroom apartment to share with your spouse and one other couple, the cost to you will be about $2,100.

• If you request a two-bedroom apartment for you and your family, the cost to you will be between $5,600-$6,100.

Note: We have found that being accompanied by a spouse during the program is very beneficial. It helps alleviate homesickness and also can further draw you and your spouse together as a team in the church planting process.

Bringing small children adds to cost and also comes with challenges due to travel, foreign housing and adjustment to life in New York City. It will be a rewarding experience, but it is good to be aware of the challenges ahead of time so you can be mentally and emotionally prepared.

When do I come? When do I go?

Housing begins: Monday, October 2 at 5pm you cannot move into your apartment before this time.
Housing ends: Friday, October 20 at 12pm you must be vacated from your apartment by noon.

I'm at my airport. Now what?

There are 3 New York City airports you can fly into and out from:

Newark International
JFK International
LaGuardia International Airport

The best transportation from the airport to your housing will be by taxi cab, chauffeured car (which will cost about $100) or shuttle service.

If you have an Uber account, you can also use Uber and request a car once you land in New York City.

If arriving to JFK International, you can take the subway into the city. Please see this website for more information and current prices


I'm in NYC. Now what?

Redeemer City to City will cover the costs of your subway transportation (only you, the planter) during the Intensive. Make sure you buy ground transportation only up to Orientation on October 3rd. Your transportation cards will be given to you during the Welcome Orientation.

For more information about public transportation - Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) - please see the official website.

Who will feed me?

We provide a few lunches during training sessions. On average, you can expect to spend about $30 per day / per adult on meals in New York. You can lower this cost if you buy groceries and prepare your own food.

Who can attend training sessions?

Spouses are welcome at all training sessions. Infants and children are not permitted in the training sessions.

what to wear?

You will be in New York during the beginning of fall. It's a lovely time of year. Bring cool weather clothes such as jackets, sweaters and long pants /jeans but a few items for those last few days of summer weather as well. Visit this site for more detailed information about New York City weather.


Everyone should attend the Welcome Orientation that will take place on Tuesday, October 3rd.

You will receive the official schedule at orientation. However for planning purposes, sessions will be held Monday - Friday from 9:00 am - 5:30 pm. Saturdays will be free days and visits to NYC church plants will take place on Sundays. 

What if I have more questions?

Please contact Meredith Denton - Intensive Project Manager - with any additional questions you may have. 

 You'll meet all City to City staff at the Orientation on Tuesday, October 3, 2017. 


Marwan Aboul-Zelof

Beirut, Lebanon

I was born in Kuwait to a Catholic family. My father is Lebanese/Palestinian and my mother is Chaldean Iraqi. My family and I were vacationing in the U.S. in the summer of 1990 when the Gulf War started; we weren’t able to return to Kuwait. It was in the states that I first heard the gospel and the Lord saved me.

I grew up in San Diego, and it was in my early teenage years that I felt called to ministry. I didn’t really know what that meant, but knew I loved to serve the church. It was in my college years that I knew the Lord was calling me to take the gospel to the nations.

I was drawn to the Middle East because Islam was growing and many Christians were leaving. Less than a hundred years ago in Lebanon the far majority of people considered themselves Christian; today, less than one percent are following Jesus. Because so many have left, I felt called to return.

I have been married to Marci for seven years; we met in San Diego, CA at a missions program. She shares my love for the gospel, the lost, and the local church. We moved to Dubai so I could take part in a pastoral internship and church planting residency at Redeemer Dubai. It was there that we welcomed our first child, Noah, in the summer of 2015, and are looking forward to welcoming baby boy #2 this November! We are currently in Beirut and eager to see the Lord build His church! 


Giuliano Coccaro

São Paulo, Brazil

I currently serve as associate pastor of Igreja Presbiteriana Jardim de Oração (Garden of Prayer Presbyterian Church) in Santos, São Paulo Brazil. I've been a pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Brazil for approximately 12 years. I am also a professor of Homiletics and Practice of Preaching at Seminário Presbiteriano do Sul (Presbyterian Seminary of South) in Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil.

My wife Thaís, and I have been married for 11 years, and we have two beautiful girls: Raquel, 9, and Esther, 4.

Since I met Christ at the age of 14, I have been very excited about sharing the gospel with unbelievers. I have always had a strong passion to reach the unchurched. I try to be a leader who brings others into a relationship with Jesus Christ and trains people to be part of missional community that makes disciples of all people by proclaiming the gospel and by serving lovingly our city for the glory of God.  My desire is to reach people for the body of Christ and see new congregations that are Reformed, contextualized with contemporary culture, marked by love and excellence, committed to the truths of the gospel, and presenting Jesus in a creative, contagious, and transformational way. 

I earned my ThM in preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary in 2015. I also hold Bachelor degrees in Theology, and in Journalism and Social Communication. I feel very blessed and excited to be part of CTC's international Intensive training in 2017.


Aaron Herrera - Monterry, Mexico

Eduardo de Faria

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I am married to Natália and we have one daughter, Ana Maria. I am Brazilian and was raised Roman Catholic, as most of Brazilians are, but got saved at the age of 16. I felt called into ministry at the age of 18 and I wanted to go to seminary right away, but my father advised me to "test" the calling by getting a college degree first. I attended UFJF (Federal University of Juiz de Fora) and took Social Communications with a major in Journalism. Right after graduating in Journalism I went to seminary. I attended the Southern Presbyterian Seminary (SPS), in the city of Campinas (São Paulo State). I graduated from seminary in 2009 and was ordained in 2010. My wife is a doctor, and is currently in a residency program in Rio de Janeiro.

I felt called to plant a church a little while after being called into ministry. Since the very beginning, I was sure I was going to serve God as a missionary-pastor, but the specific field of ministry wasn’t clear yet. When I was around 20 years old, a team from SEPAL (missionary organization, stands for “Serving Pastors and Leaders") came to my town to teach on the importance of planting new churches as the most effective evangelistic method. On that occasion, it became clear to me that I was going to be a church planter. During seminary years, I served under the leadership of Pastor Ricardo Agreste at Chácara Primavera Presbyterian Church, a church that was planted with the support of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. That period shaped and strengthened my vision for church planting.

In February of 2017, Reverend Haveraldo Vargas Jr., president of the Presbytery of Rio de Janeiro and pastor of the Américas Presbyterian Church, challenged me to plant a church in Rio de Janeiro, at the Ipanema region. At that moment, I noticed the good and providential hand of God guiding me towards ministry purposes that He Himself had designed. After talking to Rev. Haveraldo, I sought confirmation through much prayer, talking to my wife, and listening to advice from wiser and more experienced pastors. Thus, from January of 2018 on, I’ll be planting a church in Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil and one of the largest cities in the world.




Lawson Hannaford

Adelaide, Australia

I’m married to Marella and we have two children, Judah, 3 and Zera, 2. Marella is a primary school teacher and I recently completed my Master of Divinity and am the CityReach Church Resident Church Planter in Adelaide, Australia, with a view to launching a new church in 2018.

I was born in Melbourne, Australia to a Christian family (both my wife and I are Pastor’s kids) and grew up knowing about Jesus and living as a Christian.

After I completed school I went to university and completed a Business Degree and started a horticultural company with my dad.

In 2011 I met Marella and we married that same year, going straight into a church plant in 2012. Our heart has always been to serve the Lord and I had realized that vocational ministry was God’s path for my life and our family. Marella has been passionate about building strong families and particularly ministering to women. She has found many avenues to use her gifts in the church and in the context of church planting. 

I continued to run the horticultural business until, in God’s grace, we sold it when it became clear that I should attend bible college. During the time of running this business, I planted a church in a gay nightclub, did outreach to the LGBT community and saw a number of people converted during this ministry. The Lord was faithful to bless what we were doing even though we really had no idea what we were up to. After three years the church plant lost momentum and we made the hard decision to close it down just at the same time I started at bible college.

Over the last few years of college, reflection and seeking God’s will, we have been more convinced than ever that Jesus would have us plant another church to reach our city with the Gospel. We are thankful to have partnered with a gospel centered church (CityReach Baptist Church in Adelaide) and excited to be on staff for planting in the south of our city in 2018. We are excited about the opportunity to be a part of the 2017 Intensive and trust that it will be a fruitful time for the Kingdom of God and future gospel ministry.


Aaron Herrera - Monterry, Mexico

Aaron Herrera

Monterrey, Mexico

I was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico from a newly converted Christian family. Under the guidance of the Presbyterian Church in Mexico, my family and I were called to serve the Lord through different ministries inside and outside the church. Through my early years of ministry, legalism and religiosity were the main motivations, and it caught up to me during college at Texas A&M - Kingsville in south Texas. He showed me His precious mercy when I learned the true meaning of the gospel of grace, and I dedicated my life to share the same gospel in any way the Lord calls me.

I currently work as a Project Controller in the steel industry in my hometown. I have also been working with a church plant for over seven years in multiple capacities including teaching, leading and counseling in the church and community. Our congregation has grown and it is clear that the time has come for our congregation to start a new church plant, which I will be leading. It is both a very exciting and challenging task to share the faith to a part of the city where families are in so much need of hearing the true meaning of God's Grace.

I am very grateful to the Lord and CTC for giving me the opportunity to participate in the International Intensive program. I am excited to listen to and learn from other church planters in different cultures and to share our church vision with all the participants.


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Brian Koela

Cape Town, South Africa

I am married to Minah Koela and we have four children: Sihle (25), Ernie (24), Wa-hae (16) and Bohlale (11).

I was born in Sharpeville but moved to Cape Town in 1987 and there became a Christian through student ministry. I was discipled thoroughly and had a desire to be involved in ministry. I then studied theology at the Bible Institute of South Africa. After completion, I worked with the YMCA as a missionary for 14 years. I also led a church in one of our townships for three years. We had the privilege of building and pastoring a multi-ethnic church in Muizenberg, Cape Town. For the past five years I have been an elder at Common Ground Church in Cape Town and working with the Warehouse Trust doing transformational development work and leading a strategy on engaging church leaders across the city of Cape Town.

My wife and I are passionate about planting a multi-ethnic church. We are also looking forward to being at Redeemer and being involved in the church planting Intensive.



Hugo Leme

Americana, Brazil

I will be joining the Intensive from Americana, Brazil. My wife Tamara and I have been married for six years, and we have one daughter, Ivy. We are passionate about coffee, movies and friends.

I was born in a Christian home, and God called me to ministry when I was seventeen. I have been working in ministry full-time since 2011, but I also have a background in tech.

Over the past five years we have been engaged in training for church planting, and three years ago we returned to our hometown to start a new church.

The city of Americana has 214,000 inhabitants. It is part of the Metropolitan Region of Campinas, which is composed of 20 cities, reaching a population of 3,131,528. The work is challenging, but we are very excited to see what God is doing in and through us. We are very grateful for this opportunity to participate in the CTC International Intensive.

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Harrison Mungai

Nairobi, Kenya

I grew up in a Christian home and made a personal commitment to follow Jesus when I was eight.

After University, I took two apprenticeships in the UK, during which time I attended a number of courses in bible handling and ministry.  Inspired by the Apprenticeship models in the UK, I envisioned a program that would give young graduates opportunities of involvement in Christian ministry as I had been given, helping them to explore the needs and opportunities available in the gospel.

I became strongly convinced that the African church is in need of gospel workers, and I felt strongly that an apprenticeship program would be an answer to raising gospel workers to faithfully teach the scriptures and encourage Christians to live out their faith in the African context. I came back from the UK in August 2007 and set up iServe Africa, and I have been running it since.

iServe Africa aims at encouraging servant leadership and faithful bible teaching mainly through graduate apprenticeships. We recruit, train and then place apprentices in the local churches or Christian organizations where they spend a year working under an experienced worker. iServe is all about raising the next generation of leaders for Africa. A good number end up in full time Christian ministry.

Besides the apprenticeship program, we also run a discipleship program for school dropouts, international gap year students and short term mission teams. We are also involved in grassroots pastor training through Utumishi (bible handling) and Uongozi (Biblical Servant Leadership) courses which run for 10 weeks each. We also publish a Christian magazine (Conversation) in order to speak to the emerging issues in our context.

I am married to Rhodah and we have of three boys - Tim (8), Philip (6) and Chris (almost 3). We live in Kikuyu, a town just outside of Nairobi. I did theological studies at Africa International University with a Masters in Divinity, Theology in 2016.

I am passionate about the faithful preaching of the gospel in my African context, as well as servant leadership. I would like to see the scriptures taught faithfully and applied more relevantly to African realities.  I am passionate about missions and see my work as a mobilizer/trainer in missions and church planting.

A keen reflection of the state of the church in Kenya and the gospel needs in my context has led me to pursue a calling in local church ministry. I desire to serve the Lord in a church in such a time as this, and I desire to grow others in their knowledge of the Lord so they can serve him.

The form that this calling has taken is in the planting of GracePoint Church in June this year.  I am deeply convinced that healthy churches are the key for the fulfillment of God’s missional agenda of redeeming a people to himself. I see a real need in Kikuyu township for a gospel proclaiming church, hence the plant in the area.

Aaron Herrera - Monterry, Mexico

Musa Ntinga

Soweto, South Africa

I was born and raised on the east coast of South Africa, near the coastal city of Durban. I was fortunate to grow up in a Christian home, yet during this time I chose not to follow Jesus.

It was during the period leading up to university, as well as my time there, that God stole my heart and made me fall in love with him. While I was studying engineering, I was introduced to the gospel through a student church and was exposed to faithful bible teaching. It was during those years that I also met my wife Masana (married for seven years) and we shared a dream of seeing the gospel spread in South Africa. The majority of the South African population live in townships, large city developments previously designated for the indigenous population. This is the community that we are hoping to reach. 

After completing my studies and working for a few years, my wife and I went down to Cape Town where I studied in a theological college called George Whitefield College (GWC) to better prepare for pastoral ministry and church planting. During this time God blessed us with our son Ayabonga, who is nine months old.

Currently we are at Hope Church Auckland Park, Johannesburg and are working with a launch team and prayerfully planning to plant a church in Soweto (the biggest township in South Africa). This has been an incredible journey of God’s faithfulness to us and we are privileged to partner with Him to proclaim the gospel. We are so excited that CTC can be a part of this journey.


Emerson Patriota

Londrina, Brazil

I was born in Londrina, Brazil on May 14th, 1978. By God’s grace I had wonderful parents who taught me to follow Jesus even in my childhood. I was raised in a church environment, which gave me the opportunity to develop my spiritual life. In my teenage years I had a deep experience of conversion, and I confessed Christ as my savior. 

In 2002, I graduated in Civil Engineering at the State University of Londrina. I worked as an engineer for three years and married my beautiful wife, Ana Lydia. She works with me in the ministry, especially in counseling women at the church.  We have two kids: Gabriel, 9, and Heloisa, 2.

After working for three years I felt called by God to pastoral ministry. On January 6th, 2008, I was ordained as a Presbyterian pastor and designated to work at Central Presbyterian Church of Londrina as an assistant pastor. I lead worship and youth programs and was responsible for the church’s communication through television and social media. In 2014, I graduated from Knox Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where I received a Masters of Divinity. I also had the opportunity to learn in an internship focused in discipleship at Perimeter Church in Atlanta with Randy Pope’s staff. 

I then returned to Brazil, where I was designated to continue working in pastoral ministry, helping in preaching and teaching, managing communications and leading the young adult ministry. Today I’m responsible for 60 small groups among young adults around their 30’s, as well as young couples with kids at early childhood.

My deepest desire is to be guided by God in a new challenge this year. Our church has a goal of opening a new church plant in the neighborhood of Londrina. I am excited to work with CTC to plant a church that is able to bless the city.

Luiz Santos

Rome, Italy

I was born and raised in Santos, Brazil. I love God wholeheartedly and have a great passion to preach and share the Gospel. I have a desire to see fresh and relevant churches who proclaim the gospel and have new lives coming into God’s Kingdom.

I am married to Sara, a sweet and lovely wife and mother. She is certainly my greatest encourager, supporter and helper, and God by His grace has shaped me through her. She is a great blessing to our family. She has a degree in Christian Education and Pedagogy. She also plays piano and keyboard and uses her gifts as a piano teacher. We have a beautiful daughter, Ana Lidia, a smart and lively girl of five. She loves singing, talking, and she is learning to love Jesus and know Him through His Word!

We currently live in Rome, where I am interning at Chiesa Evangelica San Lorenzo. We started a bible study two months ago, and we are hoping this group will become our church plant core group.


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Derrick Sekamalira

Kampala, Uganda

I’m married to Rae who is from Louisiana, US. We met at Bible College in Nairobi where she was studying her Masters in missions with a focus in Islamic studies, and I was studying a Bachelor’s degree in Theology. We’ve been married for about nine months.

I was born and raised in Kampala the capital of Uganda into a home of a Muslim mother and a nominal Christian father. I heard about Jesus growing up through Christian rallies and was converted when I was about 12 years old. Sadly, I soon joined a prosperity gospel church which didn’t preach the gospel. But God providentially used a radio program to help me hear the bible taught. I later joined the church which put the teaching on the radio.

For five years I served children and teenagers living on Kampala’s streets by intentionally preaching the gospel and making disciples. I also helped launch and pastor a new congregation for about two years. Although I first thought that I would serve as a missionary to an unreached people group in Asia that is predominantly Muslim, I became convinced that I would best serve the Lord Jesus through church planting in Kampala, Uganda because I have a good understanding of the context. I have spent three years training on staff at a church in London in bible handling and expository preaching and serving among university students.

By the grace of God I long to see many gospel centered and expository preaching churches planted across Uganda and Africa. I want to help set up training programs centered on scripture in each of these churches where mature disciples are made and godly servant leaders are raised up. 


Aaron Herrera - Monterry, Mexico

Ali Sewell

Haddington, East Edinburgh, Scotland

I grew up in Preston in the north of England. After studying Physics at the University of Manchester, I moved to the Highlands of Scotland and spent six years working as an outdoor activity instructor. It was here that I met my wife Julie and we married in October 2011.

These six years were a time when I was able to grow a great deal spiritually due to the mentoring and example of more experienced Christians. As I became more involved in the local church, people suggested I consider whether God was equipping me for full time ministry.

In 2012 we moved to Edinburgh in order for me to take part in a two year ministry associate program. This highlighted to me the need for people to enter full time ministry in Scotland, and especially church planting. I felt God had gifted me in ways in which I could help fill this need, and this was affirmed by the leadership of the church.

Having completed the associate program I enrolled at Edinburgh Theological Seminary as a candidate for the Free Church of Scotland. Alongside the program I worked at Christ Church Edinburgh in the east of the city. It was also during these three years that we had our two daughters, Emily and Louisa. Having graduated we have now just moved in Haddington, a suburb to the East of Edinburgh and are working with a small core team as we prayerfully seek to plant a church in this area of very little gospel witness.

I'm delighted to be part of the 2017 Intensive and hope that it will help us kick things off in Haddington in the right direction.


Aaron Herrera - Monterry, Mexico

Marek Tyl

Prague, Czech Republic

I grew up in Prague, Czechoslovakia in the 1980s, in an atheistic family.  I studied at the Academy of Arts, Architecture & Design in Prague. Eventually, I deeply desired to get married and God led me to meet Cori, born on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. We got married, had a beautiful daughter, Tea, and within six months we were close to divorce ourselves, just like both our parents. In our desperate search for help we were led to a church, Hope Chapel Maui. In 2005, we got baptized, we were renewed and healed from our past hurts. After nine years in Maui and seven years working in construction as a land surveyor, we returned to Prague to serve as missionaries.

Since 2012, we have been part of a mission minded Christian gathering in downtown Prague. We serve in the church (TaCesta) hosting marriage, pre-marital and parenting classes and organizing a variety of gatherings, as well as leading a small group of young newly married Czech couples. With a small team, we periodically visit a local Czech prison and run a bible study group for prisoners. This year, in partnership with Prison Fellowship International, my wife and I organized the first camp for children with incarcerated parents.

Going to New York for the 2017 Intensive is a timely boost for our church, which is going through major transition. I’m eagerly looking forward to spending time with fellow brothers who serve in their communities and learn from their experience.


Aaron Herrera - Monterry, Mexico

Sihle Xulu

Durban, South Africa

I grew up in a province called Kwazulu-Natal, on the north coast of the city of Durban in South Africa. I was raised in a Christian home, but later in my teenage years found myself rebelling to everything I was taught at home. It was when I moved to Johannesburg for studies that the Lord worked in me and drew me to Himself.

I graduated in Financial Accounting at the University of South Africa, after which I had a stint in a management position within the retail industry. This led me to starting a small business, until I had a strong burden to go and study for ministry. I went to train for ministry at the London Theological Seminary. After my training I served as a pastoral intern at Birchleigh Baptist Church, and then was sent to lead a church revitalization at Grace Chapel Durban. My wife's name is Lethabo. I enjoy reading, hanging out with my wife and good jazz.


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Warren Leung

Los Angeles, California

I will be coming in for the Intensive from Los Angeles, CA. I am married to Wendy and we have two small children, a 3-year old girl (Karis) and a 17-month old boy (Roman), both miracles in our lives.

I was born into a non-Christian immigrant family and spent most of my early childhood in Hong Kong and Philly Chinatown. I was saved by grace through an outreach ministry at the Chinese Christian Church and Center in Philly. I happened to forget to bring a bottle of water during a basketball tournament one day, walked into the church for a sip of water, and ended up in the middle of a Cantonese bible study. From that day on, God has taken me on a journey of discovery and learning how the gospel works to rehabilitate, remake, and reshape very broken and messy people like me.

I am currently serving at Pacific Crossroads Church in Los Angeles in the area of mission and church planting. A year ago, we planted a church in the San Gabriel Valley area and it has been an eye opening experience, learning how God works through our bloopers and mistakes.

I love the gospel, I love meeting and learning from all kinds of people, and I have a passion to learn about what God is doing in cities. It is a real privilege to be joining the Intensive this year and I am looking forward to meeting all of you soon!



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George Markey

Kiev, Ukraine

I grew up in the family of a pastor. At an early age I felt the call to pastoral ministry, but in my teenage years I dismissed it as a childhood dream. I began making plans to become an engineer, but in 1992 when I was 16, my parents moved our family from our farm in Indiana to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, to plant a church affiliated with Calvary Chapel, a non-denominational network of churches. It was one of the most difficult times of my life, but also the most life-transforming.

After observing and being part of the amazing work God was doing and seeing the spiritual hunger of the youth in this former Soviet country, I felt the call to church planting. I had just completed my freshman year at Kyiv National University with a major in applied mathematics. After getting my MS, I began helping plant a church in a large city in Eastern Ukraine. While visiting the United States during this period, I met my wife, a woman who was passionate for missions. We married a year and a half later, and she joined me in Kyiv, where I was serving as assistant pastor under my father. Very soon, my wife's heart for all the nations, and especially Muslims, began to challenge me and broaden my vision beyond ministry focused solely on Ukrainians. We began seeing more ways to reach out to other people groups within Kyiv, such as Iranians, Iraqis, and Chinese. We actually started an Iraqi home group and planted a Chinese church with the help of some new converts. Several years later in 2007, we were called to plant the first Calvary Chapel in the western part of Ukraine. It became an international church, with a mix of Ukrainians and many international students from all over Africa. During that time, I also assisted in planting another church in a large city in Western Ukraine. In 2015 we were called back to Kyiv to take over the church my father had planted. Right before we found out we would be moving, I had started reading Center Church, and I began to get excited about church planting in large urban centers. When we moved to Kyiv, I realized the best way to reach this city of approximately 5 million was to plant more churches. To that end, we are working on starting more home groups and training the wonderful men God has given us to accomplish this vision.

Although I grew up and have ministered in Calvary Chapel, which is strong in teaching the Bible expositionally and emphasizing grace, Tim Keller and others in the gospel-centered movement have helped me grow even deeper and enjoy the gospel more fully. With the sermons and all aspects of our church in Kyiv becoming more rooted in the gospel, the body has flourished, although there is still much work to be done. I am excited about being part of this training and acquiring the knowledge and skills to plant vibrant churches that are enamored with Jesus and His grace and to train other leaders within and outside of our movement to do the same.

My wonderful wife and I have been blessed with five active boys who age from one to ten.


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Enrique Melendez

Los Angeles, California

I am originally from East Los Angeles, where you'll find some of the best tasting tacos world wide!  My favorite taco shop is “Cinco Puntos” (I'm sure Jesus will feature their tacos in heaven).  More than tacos, I love helping people find their way back to God and helping them live new lives centered around the love and wisdom of Jesus. I enjoy bringing bible stories to life and helping people make sense of what they are learning and apply it to their own lives. I feel passionate about sharing Jesus with people because I see the amazing things God continues to do in my own life and in the lives of others.

Before beginning Hope Community Church, I served as an associate pastor at New Life Community Church in Lincoln Heights and was a campus pastor with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for nine years. I graduated with a Master’s Degree from Bakke Graduate University in 2012 and am a life-long learner. I also have a deep love for my wife Jennica and our three kids Silvia, Enrique Jr. and Daniel.


Aaron Herrera - Monterry, Mexico

Dennae Pierre

Phoenix, Arizona

I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. I had a strong burden for church planting and helped plant Roosevelt Community Church alongside my husband, Vermon Pierre, who is the lead pastor. I have worked extensively throughout Phoenix among the homeless, victims of domestic violence, and low-income families. I am the founder of Foster Care Initiatives and have started multiple community development works in under-resourced areas. My husband and I have four children and enjoy spending our free time exploring the diverse community found in the parks, restaurants, and coffee shops of Downtown Phoenix.