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  • Going With The Gruenings

Spring 2024 Update

Dear Friends ~

As I sat down to write this update for all of you, I began to recount the many things that have happened since the beginning of this year and a few things became immediately clear. 1) Time - whether counted in hours, weeks or months - is exactly what the Bible says it is: a vapor. Days, weeks and months slip by so very quickly and should remind us that only what is done for Christ’s Kingdom will one day remain. Simply put, I can’t believe it’s already May!

2) It would be easy to sit here and type out a list of all the things “we’ve accomplished” in the first four months of 2024, but it is more and more clear with every passing day here in Germany, that our hands are empty, and anything we have to show for ministry is simply an outpouring of God’s work through us, among us, and in us.

God’s Work Through Us

As biblical soul care missionaries to Germany, one of the things we are passionate about is equipping and building up biblical counselors throughout Germany. The Lord has been so faithful in providing several opportunities throughout the country.

  • Once a month, from January through April, Dennis traveled to Fulda (northeast of Frankfurt) for a four-module training for counselors. Topics included the work of the Holy Spirit, how people change, and counseling depression & anxiety. On the last day of the training, the pastor shared how grateful he was that we were able to offer this kind of training because it was something needed in his church and so many people (including the 60 who attended) benefited from the content. We’re excited to see what kind of partnership we can have with them going forward!

  • At the end of April Dennis was invited to be the speaker at a church retreat in Bayreuth (Bavaria) and was able to spend 2 days speaking to a group of 80 people about emotions from a biblical perspective. Dennis left them with a couple of practical exercises for at-home-use too.

  • We attended a large marriage conference in Halle, Westphalia where over 1,600 people were in attendance from all over Germany. We were excited to be able to have a Twelve Stones table where we shared about both the intensive counseling retreats and how we support churches and their counseling teams. Many conversations were had there and we look forward to seeing the connections that come out of it.

  • In May Dennis taught a weekend seminar with our partner organization, NBS (Network of Biblical Counselors), in Kaiserslautern, southwest of Frankfurt. This gave him the opportunity to share practical methods in counseling with about 30 people from various churches.

  • Another aspect of equipping the church in Germany has been making biblical resources available and Dennis has been able to do that by translating books for a Christian Publisher. This half of the year he is working on translating the second edition of “When People are Big and God is Small” by Ed Welch. We’re praying that this book will bless the many people who will read it in their own language.

  • In addition to partnering with the NBS here in Germany, Dennis has had the opportunity to work with a group of biblical counselors from all over Europe by participating in equipping calls over Zoom.

  • In May Dennis led this group in a call teaching about doing a deep dive on a person’s life story and drawing out the heart through that process. This training reached beyond the borders of Germany to participants in Belgium, the UK, Sweden, Italy, Spain, & Switzerland!

It has been truly amazing to see the breadth of opportunities we’ve had throughout Germany. The map to the right shows the places, thus far, we have had the chance to do seminars, conferences and trainings as well as welcome people from as they came for intensive retreats.

God’s Work Among Us

Just as we are thankful for the many opportunities to serve nation-wide, we are thankful to have a rich ministry here in our local community. The two areas we continue to see this most prominently is at our local church and through the counseling retreats we host.

  • At the end of last year Dennis became an elder at our church and has been busy with regular elder meetings and participating in church life at a deeper level. This has been a huge responsibility but also a great opportunity to serve the local church (preaching, counseling, etc). Combined with that, Dennis is also the deacon of soul care for our church and has been counseling about 7 people/couples at church on a weekly basis.

  • Last year we began a year long “basics of counseling” training at our church. We were encouraged to see about 20 people consistently joining us and as we wrap up the final training, we are praying about forming a dedicated counseling team from several interested people who attended.

  • Since the beginning of the year Dennis has done three counseling intensives. He has scheduled another three between now and September. We are glad to be able to minister to the most hurting among us in this way. Here is a quote from an advocate of a recent case:

"His Word was at the center of the intensive. God's purposes for us were clear and the way to true freedom and complete contentment in Christ was shown. Much courage, hope and confidence was given. Many practical helps were shown in order to correct wrong thinking. «God is good and does good»"

  • As we mentioned in our last update, our most exciting news is that the Lord, in a way only He could, has provided a home-base for us to do ministry from. Just up the road from our current house is a multi-building, 4 acre property that has been used for retreats the last 35 years. Beginning July 1st, we will receive the keys for the property and will begin the work of preparing it for various ministry uses including hosting intensive retreats, weekly counseling, training seminars, etc. We are especially excited that our sending church, Redeemer Bible Church, in Indiana, will be sending a team to help in August! In the weeks to come, we’ll be sharing exciting ways you can partner with us in this exciting opportunity in which people can meet with the Lord and experience lasting life change.

God’s Work In Us

The Lord has been moving not only in ministry, but of course in our family as well. The first half of this year has had a fair share of challenges but also celebrations.

May 25th marks our third “German-a-versary” as we like to call it! It seems crazy that we’ve been here for 3 years already. There is so much to thank God for!

We are approaching the end of the school year here in Germany (6/21 is the last day of school) and we are so thankful that Leyna and Callie have done such a great job in their 3rd year of school here. Their German is fluent and they are able to work independently on homework, etc. and show their understanding by their good grades and feedback from their teachers. This was an especially challenging year for Callie as she moved from grade school to upper school; but she has done wonderfully and made friends quickly.

Lorelei has continued her “volunteer public service year” through the department of education here in Germany and has (despite many illnesses) enjoyed working at the preschool with the 3-5 year old class. She has not only had an opportunity to test out a career in early childhood education, but has been a help to her co-workers and a joy to the kids!

Church life also plays a huge role in the girls’ lives. Callie is now old enough to join the junior high youth group and Leyna has moved up to the high school youth group. Both of them are now regularly leading worship with the youth praise and worship team. Lorelei & Leyna both help once a month in kid’s church as well. Lorelei was privileged to be able to draw the illustrations for our Easter sermon series at church - they turned out beautifully! We are so thankful that our church has become a safe landing place for our family!

With all the busyness of ministry, we have also found time to relax and be together as a family. In January Deanna celebrated her birthday with a very special visit from her friend Larissa. They also got to enjoy a weekend girls trip with lots of memories and laughter! Leyna turned 14 in February and celebrated with her friends from church. And in April Dennis and Deanna celebrated 21 years of marriage and also enjoyed a weekend away in the Harz mountains.

Together as a family, we joined Dennis’ parents and several cousins for a family reunion trip to the Danish coastal island of Fanø. This time away was such an incredible blessing both for the memories made with Dennis’ family and for the downtime we had in a very busy season.

Of course God’s work in us extends beyond what He is doing in our family ... it’s really all about what He is doing in us ... in our hearts. As many people do these days, I chose a word for 2024 with the purpose of asking the Lord to reveal Himself to me in deeper ways in regard to this area of my life. I chose the Greek word “hypomeno” which means “to abide or remain steadfast under difficult circumstances.” Like most of us, I do not love being uncomfortable and often seek out the path of least-resistance. There is nothing like moving to a new country and leaving your home behind to make you feel uncomfortable and it certainly is the antithesis of the “path of least resistance”. In our third year in Germany I’ve had to learn what it looks like to really abide in Christ and remain in Him despite feeling uncomfortable at times. I have chosen to do this, quite practically, by reading through the Bible chronologically day by ... well, most days. It has been a discipline and a joy to remain steadfast in reading His Word and look for Him in the pages of my Bible. There hasn’t been a day He didn’t reveal Himself to me and, therefore, remained in me and abided in me as I remained in Him and abided in Him (John 15:4). I don’t know where each of you are in your walk with the Lord, but as one who is on the journey to abide, I would encourage you to continue to seek Him and abide in Him. I would love to share 4 resources that have been a huge blessing to me and pray they would be a great encouragement to you as well:

  • Abide In Christ by Andrew Murray

  • The Bible ReCap by Tara-Leigh Cobble

  • Upon Waking by Jackie Hill Perry

  • Every Moment Holy by Douglas Kaine Mckelvey

Thank you all for the many ways you have come alongside us as through financial support, encouraging words, and most importantly ... your prayers for us!

You are loved!

2024 Q1 Newsletter
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Jodi Kushner
Jodi Kushner
20 may

Loved this report!! You continue to pour yourselves out completely for the Kingdom. Well done dear friends! Glory to God for all He has done and will continue to do through each of you including the girls. Keeping you in my prayers


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