These are the folks you'll be hanging out with the most, along with some of their spouses and families. Get to know each other a little before you arrive.
Johannesburg, South Africa
After intensively serving at his local church and among students in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he was born, Ada moved to South Africa following God’s call. By His Grace, God opened an opportunity in 2004 for Ada to be an associate at Braamfontein Community Church. During this time, Ada also planted a church among the French speaking population in Johannesburg at the University of the Witwatersrand. Through this experience, he learnt valuable lessons about ministry in the city with specific relevance to a cross cultural community. In this time, his understanding of the joys and challenges of ministry became very clear to him. As a result, he took the opportunity to replant Valley Community Church since 2009 to date.
Ada is a graduate of the Johannesburg Bible College. In addition, he holds a Masters degree in Theology at the North West University, Potchefstroom and a Masters degree in Economics at the University of Johannesburg.
Ada is a church planter, evangelist, counselor, conference speaker, and researcher. Ada is married to Rachel Dienga and they have 4 children.
I was born in Zurich, Switzerland into a minister's home. My dad was a deeply committed follower of Christ who preached the gospel throughout his whole life from the pulpit, but most impressively lived it at home with a committed love. That still continues to impact my life today. I was raised in central Germany for almost all my life and became a disciple of Christ by the age of ten.
After high school, I first became a banker. Sensing the call into missions work, I left my job to get my Master of Divinity from the School of Theology at Anderson University in Indiana, U.S.A. Upon returning to Germany, I took a position as a youth pastor in Braunschweig. After five years, I became the senior pastor of a small congregation in Essen which I was able to merge with another church from a different denomination.
My wife Sarah and I met at the church in Braunschweig. We got married in 2005 and have been blessed with two wonderful kids - Jule and Jonas. Together we moved to Hamburg, the second largest city in Germany, last fall. We sensed God’s call to join the Hamburgprojekt (hamburgprojekt.de), a six year old church plant within the City to City network. We are also preparing for a new church plant starting next year in Hamburg as well.
I was born and raised in Scotland. My father was a Presbyterian minister, first in the Highlands of Scotland, and then for nearly 25 years in central Scotland in a small town situated between Glasgow and Edinburgh. I spent most of my growing up years there.
Raised in a Christian home, I cannot remember a time where I did not believe and trust in Jesus Christ. However, in my early twenties I came to a deeper realisation of the seriousness of my sin and the wonder of God's grace which in turn led to a far greater passion to serve and honour Christ with my life. It was around this time that I began to feel the call to full-time gospel ministry.
After studying at Oak Hill Theological College in London, I returned to Scotland and began planting Grace Church Leith in Edinburgh at the end of 2009 with my wife Rosalynd and our newborn son. It was slow-going at first but it has been a great blessing to see the way God has worked over the past five years. We have three children - Erskine (5 years), Grace (2 years), and Abigail (8 months). For fun, I like to play and watch soccer.
It may sound silly, but the Christian faith was so foreign to me growing up that I remember walking past a nativity scene when I was in middle school, thinking to myself, "Wow. These Christians are really dumb. They have people dressed in middle eastern desert clothing in the middle of December!” Not much later, I became vigorously opposed to the faith based on the hypocrisy (blind to my own, of course) and anti-intellectualism I saw played out everywhere I looked (a true skeptic).
I met my wife Hannah early on in college, but she didn’t give me the time of day until after I became a Christian at the end of my junior year when Jesus systematically dismantled everything I thought I knew and (as she puts it) transformed me from the inside-out. Together, we made it through my MDiv at Covenant Seminary, served on the leadership team of a church plant in the heart of St. Louis, started an art non-profit, and continue to make each other far greater than the sum of our parts as we seek to follow Jesus in whatever he has in store for us!
God has had the greater Boulder, CO region on our hearts for over 6 years now, but it was only after several years as a Chaplain in the Army National Guard and Assistant Pastor at a church just outside of Boulder County that he opened that door. We've recently moved into the area and are completing a residency with a quickly-growing Acts 29 church in Boulder (www.boulderwell.org), loving our neighbors as best we can, and gathering a launch team around the hope of seeing a new gospel community in the greater Boulder region.
DAVID VAN DER MEULEN
I would like to start by saying that getting to know Jesus in a personal way is really the best thing that ever happened to me. Not only did Jesus show me His forgiveness for my shame and dark sides, He also lifted me up with His endless love that radiated beauty and peace in my heart. My eyes were opened to see that loving God, the people around me, and myself is what really fulfills.
I was around 18 years old when this new life started to change me from within, and it gave me a passion to learn more about God by studying Theology and becoming active in church life. Another desire that was growing in my heart was to share the Gospel with other people my age that were searching for meaning in their life.
Seven years ago I met Marie (she is from Switzerland), and three years later we got married (with weddings in both Lausanne and Amsterdam). I then worked for three years as an assistant church planter at a multicultural church plant in the west of Amsterdam.
Over the past two years, I have been working on cultivating a Christian community for young professionals in our neighbourhood in Amsterdam Old South. Within this desire to share the Gospel with the city, I am constantly learning how God's grace can be good news to young professionals who believe they have it all. The ways Tim Keller has been thinking through the implications of the Gospel for the city have been very encouraging to us. This thinking has not only helped me to live more from a posture of grace, but has also provided me both a language and an approach to building authentic relationships in our neighbourhood.
Marie and I had our daughter little Lisa 2 years ago. Together we love nature, playing music and singing, reading, engaging new cultures, and building friendships.
I’m Mexican. I grew up with a legalistic heart, trusting in my poor and superficial righteousness. I decided to study Theology as a way to fulfill my legalism. In seminary, I was exposed to liberal / latinoamerican theology, hence I finished my studies with a liberal (and almost agnostic) heart. At the end, God saved me by pure grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Now I am married to my beautiful wife and serve in a church planting project sharing, preaching, and teaching the gospel.
My name is Femi. I have a couple of Electrical Engineering degrees, but my wife is extremely suspicious of those credentials since I am absolutely useless at even changing light bulbs at home. I also happen to be Nigerian. No, I have not sent you any recent email, nor do I have a stash of millions of dollars in cash somewhere only needing a few hundred bucks to unlock it. Yes, I speak and laugh considerably loudly and I tend to pronounce vowel sounds with my mouth wide open!
I am madly in love with and happily married to Tosin. She’s awesome –most times. We have a little terrier (sorry, son) called Tofunmi. He also happens to be the most outgoing person I know and he is still only 3!!! We love him to bits. Above all though, I am a sinner saved and transformed by the scandalous and stupendous grace of our Triune God.
As far as I can clearly discern, I consciously and consistently began walking with the Lord in early 2005. This was following a young adult camp organised by my then former church in Lagos, Nigeria. The year following that period was nothing short of constant spiritual renewal and bliss. Until March 2015, for seven and half years, I lived in Manchester, UK where I studied (a lot!), made a whole bunch of friends (whom I sorely miss), and was part of a wonderful church called Holy Trinity Platt. It was also in Manchester that I had a radical change in my theology and was captured by a vision to see a gospel revival in Lagos, Nigeria through gospel-centred urban church planting. During this period as well, we were fortunate enough to be vetted and now associated with the Acts 29 (Europe and global) network.
We’ve now relocated to Lagos and are looking to launch our church plant by August 2016. The future fills us with both trepidation and excitement. We are terrified because of the scale of the work here in comparison with our very obvious frailties and finitude. However, we’re tremendously excited because we serve a very, very big God who sometimes moves in very, very big ways to achieve his very, very big plans. Thus our prayer for Lagos is: “Do it again, Lord! Do it again.”
We are the Terrazas--Guillermo (Guille), Suzanne, Paloma (5 years old), and Raúl (2 years old). I’m from Monterrey, Mexico and my wife Suzanne is from Denton, Texas. As a Spanish descendant, I’m passionate about seeing the spread of God’s message in Spain and the planting of gospel-centered churches. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Geology and a Masters in Chemistry. Before moving to Spain as a missionary, I worked for an important Austrian company as a regional sales manager for Central America and the Caribbean. In 2010, I quit my job in order to pursue training in ministry and to move into full-time missions with my family. In 2012, we moved to Málaga, Spain and started serving at a local church along with its national leaders. In the fall of 2014, we came back to the USA in order to transition into another sending organization. Presently, we are missionary candidates for Serge.
We are excited for the opportunity to participate in the Intensive in order to grow and learn how to be effective in my ministry among my brothers and sisters in Spain. I also pray that the Intensive can help me to receive more insight about church planting, gospel renewal, and pastoral leadership.
God has been holding onto me since I was a little boy. Raised in a Christian family in secular Southern California, I grew up with passion for the truth—specifically that others know the truth about God in Jesus. I still remember leading my six-year-old friend across the street in the sinner’s prayer. The truth is, however, that I became a bit of a “dogmatic” jerk by the time high school came around.
It wasn’t until college, where I studied philosophy, that God gave me an experience of deep doubt and through that experience taught me two things: how to empathize with those who don’t believe in Christ, and that my faith in him goes deeper than the propositions I’ve memorized. It was during that season that he called me to go to Calvin Theological Seminary, where I learned (among many other valuable things) that God was preparing me to plant a church that plants churches.
My wife, Stephanie, and I moved to Oakland (right across the Bay from San Francisco) in August 2013 to begin the process of planting a new church. I have spent the last two years building relationships and learning about Oakland, as well as serving as a pastor on staff at Christ Church East Bay. As we have lived in Oakland and grown to love our neighbors, we have increasingly sensed God calling us to start a multicultural and multi-class congregation in the heart of Oakland. Our prayer is that this church will become a hub that plants churches throughout the Bay Area.
I love hiking in the Oakland hills, reading, playing golf, and talking with people from different cultures. I’m really looking forward to meeting each of you and learning about what God’s doing through you!
Cape Town, South Africa
I am Louis and have been married to my beautiful wife Yolandi for five years. She finished her Law degree in 2013 and is the Kidz Church Director of our current ministry. We don't have any kids yet, but our Great Dane (Asia) and Maltese (Milo) keep us busy.
I grew up as a preacher's kid and always knew that I was called to be in full-time ministry. After finishing high school, I worked in the corporate marketing world for a year. In 2005, I started studying Theology at the University of Pretoria and finished my BTh degree in 2008 and my MDiv two years later. While studying, I was also a singer / songwriter for a rock band and worked as youth pastor and worship leader for four years at a church in Pretoria. In 2010 I was ordained as a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church and was called to a dying congregation in Springs on the East Rand of Johannesburg. In the last four and a half years we have seen incredible growth in the church and have learned a lot from leading this congregation.
Since my days as a student, I have been interested in church planting and in March 2013, we realised that this is our calling! We plan to move to Cape Town by the end of 2015 to plant a new church. We also have a vision for training new leaders to plant more churches in South Africa.
Pretoria, South Africa
My name is Malwande Mdonga. To those who cannot pronounce my name, they simply call me Lwande. I am 33 years old and originally from the southern tip of South Africa, Port Elizabeth. I moved up to Pretoria for Theological training, through the grace of God. I graduated from North West University with a Bachelor’s Degree and a BA in Honours Theology and am now busy getting a Masters in Missiology.
I am an ordained pastor of the New Life City Church (under the Reformed Churches in South Africa), and sent as a Church Planter to Pretoria East. The Lord is still carving a wife for me…so I am still as single as they come!
My journey in the ministry has been a gradual and fascinating experience; I started off as student pastor at a TUT Student fellowship, then co-planted a church in Pretoria before I was sent to Pretoria East in April 2015 for yet another church plant. I have a strong conviction, love, and passion for my calling as a church planter.
I enjoy reading, preaching / teaching, traveling, singing, and Bible discussions.
I am originally from Northern Ireland but have been living and working in Dublin since 2012. Although N. Ireland is usually perceived as very religious I didn’t grow up in a churchgoing family. I came to faith about the age of 14 after being invited to a Christian youth group by a friend. I thought I was going to hang out, play football, and eat junk food, but instead I found myself in a Bible study on Romans. Despite my friends ‘bait and switch,’ I kept attending and over the course of about a year the Lord changed my heart and I began to understand who Jesus is and wanted to live for him.
At the age of 21, I joined the staff team of an Anglican evangelical church just outside of Belfast as a ministry intern and it was during that time that the Lord began to grow a desire to church plant in the Republic of Ireland. This is also where I met my co-planter (Kieron Lynch). After my internship (2009) I began training at Oak Hill Theological College in London where I met my wife (Philippa). After graduation, I moved to Dublin to explore planting a church with Irish Church Missions (an evangelical missions agency) with Kieron who had been working in Dublin with InterVarsity.
In 2013, we launched City Church Dublin, a small church of mostly students meeting in Dublin City Centre. Recently, we have moved from a small evening location to a morning venue in order to gather with other families who have joined us.
Philippa and I have been married since August 2014 and while I am in NYC she will be pregnant with our first child who is due at the end of January!
After graduating from Giessen School of Theology in Germany, I moved to Vienna in January 2011 to work as a course developer for a church-based training organization. Even though I grew up in a small town in central Germany, I quickly felt at home in Vienna and fell in love with the city – and also with my wife Susanna, a native Viennese, to whom I’ve been married since July 2013.
In the summer of 2011, I was approached by one of the oldest evangelical churches in Vienna, and asked to support them in the revitalization process that the church had been going through over the last few years. This church had at one time experienced a period of rapid growth (during the 1970s), which resulted in a number of new church plants in Vienna. I accepted the invitation and have served that church as one of the pastors ever since. Because the vision of our church was not only to revitalize the old congregation, but also to plant a daughter church, I received training from a German organization that trains church planters and works closely with several churches in the Redeemer City to City network. In early 2013, I successfully took part in their assessment center.
We are currently in the early stages of planting a second congregation within our church that seeks to reach 20 to 40 year-old students, young professionals, and creatives. These people have a major part in the shaping of Vienna’s cultural climate, but are rarely found in any of the city’s existing churches. By this we hope to also lay the groundwork for new church plants in Vienna, so that by God’s grace our church will once again become the starting point of a gospel movement spreading through Vienna.
Imagine a church building in the very centre of Helsinki City, the capital of Finland. It was built in 1894, when Finland was still led by the Russian tsar. The church was damaged by bombs during World War II, but was later renovated. In the 1980's the building was in such a bad shape that it was about to be deconstructed. Young activists occupied the building protesting the lack of affordable homes in the city. Soon afterwards, the church building was sold away. For the last two decades, several night clubs and restaurants have inhabited the space. Imagine that it - The Luther Church - would be a church again. Yes! Praise to God, that is going to happen in May 2016!
I am Martti Haverinen and have served as the communications manager of The Lutheran Evangelical Association of Finland (LEAF) since 2009. LEAF is once again the owner of the Luther Church. LEAF is a revival movement inside The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland that has missionaries in several countries, for example, in Japan and Kenya. LEAF has called me with my wife Soili to replant the Luther Church, but not as it used to be. The replanted Luther Church will be an open fellowship to the people of the City and call them to Christ in several ways.
We both have a Masters degree in Theology and I am looking forward to being ordained as a pastor. I was born in Helsinki and have lived there all my life. I am very excited to serve my hometown by the Gospel. I was raised in a Christian home and have had an inner calling to work for the Gospel since I was thirteen. Previously, I have worked as a theologian in a Lutheran parish near Helsinki, as the communications manager in IFES Finland (a member organization of International Fellowship of Evangelical Students), and also a few years in politics.
Soili is completing her doctoral thesis in Philosophy of Religion. She has worked several years in student ministry in IFES Finland and has also coordinated and trained students in evangelism, building small groups and volunteering. Recently, she worked as a special advisor of the Minister of the Interior in the Finnish Government and has good relations with people from different areas of society. We have two school-aged sons.
We feel that the challenges in our coming ministry are going to be huge, but our Lord Jesus Christ is bigger. Helsinki is one of the most secularized places in the world, but this means that there are lots of people who desperately need to hear the Gospel!
Aleksander Saszko N. was born in Western Ukraine, a former Polish territory that became part of Ukraine during World War Two.
Saszko came to faith at the age of 12 in a big Baptist church in the city of Lviv where he attended an English course run by American missionaries and met local believers who explained the gospel to him.
After high school, Saszko went to Bible college where he studied theology for four years. During this time, Saszko was involved in helping two different church plants. One was a Baptist church that became his sending church on a mission to Poland, and the other was a Presbyterian church plant.
After Bible college, Saszko became a missionary to Poland serving with European Christian Mission before moving to the small mountain town of Rabka in Southern Poland where he worked with youth and established a Christian English school.
Saszko then moved to Krakow where he is currently co-leading a team of nine people who will be planting a new church in the city. The hope is to start a church that will be have more culturally relevant, reverent, and liturgical worship rather than simply following the mainstream international Evangelical style of worship service. Saszko and his team members have embraced this vision and together will be hosting their first public service in October 2015.
Pretoria, South Africa
I grew up in Emalahleni (place of coal) in a province called Mpumalanga (where the sun rises) in the East of South Africa. I grew up in the township within a family of 6; I am the oldest of four children from my parents. I grew up in what I would call a religious home. My family raised me as a Catholic and that is where I got saved. I really cannot remember the exact date I was saved, but at around the age of 13, the Lord got ahold of my heart through His Word. I remember spending hours and hours in my room studying the Bible. The Lord used the book of Ecclesiastes to show me my sin and how real He is. Ever since that time, I knew that I had a relationship with God. God moved from just being a person I acknowledged at Mass on Sundays to being my personal friend and Lord. The Word of God became precious to me and remains so to this day.
My life verse is Philippians 3:10 - “to know Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering”. I finished my matriculation in the year 2000 and studied Financial Information Systems. I did not finish that course but changed to Marketing and completed that course in 2007. I then worked for a financial institution for about year before going to Christ Baptist Seminary from 2009 - 2012. During my second year at Seminary, I pastored a church called City Baptist Church in the Inner City of Pretoria till the end of March this year. I got married to my beautiful wife at the end of 2012 and we just had our first little boy 2 weeks ago by the name Wenzile (Zulu for “He has done it”). My heart is to see the township ablaze with the nutrients of the Gospel...to see the good news of Jesus Christ change ordinary lives.
I am currently the Assistant pastor at St Columba’s Free Church in the centre of Edinburgh, Scotland. My remit is split between serving in the central church and living on the edge of the city where we hope to develop a church plant.
I came to full-time Christian ministry gradually, having worked as a youth minister near Glasgow, as an outreach worker in Edinburgh, and also following a time as a high school English teacher. This last point, obviously, means I quite like reading books! And going to the beach, walking my dog, and hanging out as a family…
It was during my time as a trainee teacher that I met Sharlene, my wife. We now have a pretty lively 1 ½ year old – Clemence. Sharlene left teaching to look after Clemence and to help develop the work in the church plant – building relationships and seeking to be a Christian witness in the area we live.
We’re really looking forward to coming to the Intensive and all it will involve, though I’m sure keeping a hold of an intrepid toddler on the busy streets of New York will be just as great a challenge!