Kerls to Assume New Leadership Role in Europe

Post a Comment » Written on March 1st, 2007     
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CHICAGO, IL (March 1, 2007) – John Kerl had dreamed for 30 years of ministering in Europe, but he and his wife, Letha, twice said “no” when the Department of World Mission of the Evangelical Covenant Church asked them to go.

“We were actually commissioned in 1988 to spend one term in Mexico and then go to Europe once it opened,” John says. Despite being offered opportunities across the Atlantic Ocean, the couple remained where they were because “we were fully committed to the ongoing work of the Covenant in Mexico.”

Two years ago they began to sense their time in Mexico was ending, and God was calling them to Europe. Recently, they answered the third World Mission request to change continents.

KerlsThe Kerls have been selected as the new regional coordinators for mission ministries in Europe. As coordinators, they will care for and supervise missionary personnel, help with strategic planning, and continue to develop partnerships with national churches.

There are major transitions awaiting the couple – they have lived in Mexico for 18 years – just as there were transitions when the couple ministered in Congo from 1981 to 1983. Finding a church in which to worship and a school for their son Peter, who will be a junior in high school, are the most immediate changes to be addressed, says John. He adds, however, that those should be easier than learning to work in a new religious climate.

“Our biggest transition will be moving from a culture very open to the gospel into one that in recent years has been quite closed,” John says. Europeans have become increasingly secular, and most consider Christianity to be irrelevant, he adds.

New opportunities for evangelism are presenting themselves, however, including the large influx to Europe – especially Spain – of people from Latin America. “We are especially interested in the Esparcidos Project (The Scattered People Project), which focuses on Latin Americans who have settled in Europe,” John says. His ability to speak French also will help in other areas of Europe.

Curt Peterson, executive minister of Covenant World Mission, says the Kerl’s past missionary experience has prepared them for the new position. “They have demonstrated visionary leadership and administration in the formation of the Family Foundation in
Monterrey, Mexico, and have served effectively in pastoral care and ministry
coordination as country coordinators for the Mexico missionary team,” he explains.  “They work well with national church leaders and are committed to train and
empower others for ministry.”

Working with national church leaders on wide-ranging approaches to evangelism and discipleship is a vital component of the coordinator’s position, as most of the work is carried out as partnerships. “We are involved with national church partners in Europe in church planting, leadership training, compassion ministries to the poor, and to marginalized immigrants, as well as creative ministries in the arts, sports, and community development,” Peterson says.

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