Saturday, August 20, 2011

David and Jean Stenzel, Missionaries to Europe & the U.S.

David and Jean Stenzel, a dynamic Christian couple who are serving with Greater Europe Mission, share their story of how God has touched their life and in turn, has enabled them to bless others throughout Europe and the United States with love and encouragement. I met with Jean one morning this summer and as we sat at her kitchen table here in O'Neill, NE, she told me some wonderful and entertaining stories of how God is working in this world...

“Dave and I met at the University of Nebraska and were married while we were at UNL, when we both were in teacher's college. When Dave went into teaching, he discovered Jesus Christ in a very personal way. With that discovery, his entire focus began to change, and his question was, “How can I serve Jesus Christ?” We were living in married housing which contained 1500 apartments, and one day Dave turned to me and said, “These people don’t all know Jesus Christ. They think because they are a bit ‘religious’, that they are saved. That’s the way I was-- I was very religious and went to church every Sunday and I thought I was saved, but I didn’t have that personal relationship with Jesus Christ. These people need to know!” So Dave made up his mind that he was going to knock on every door and invite everyone who wanted to come, to join an Evangelistic Bible study.”

“We began this study with 10 people, and those that came to the Lord, would go into a discipleship study. One of the ladies that came to this study was named Janet and she was a nurse. Her husband was definitely not interested in Jesus Christ, as he wanted to taste everything that the world had to give. He thought it was alright that his wife would ‘get religious’ but he didn’t want any of it for himself. Janet began to grow in Christ and go into the discipleship study. We just had some really wonderful conversations over the Word of God and she was excited to think that she could turn to Jesus for every problem that came into her life. One day, she called me and said, “Jean, I don’t know what to do, can you give me some advice? My husband came home the other day and said, “We’re not as close as we used to be, so I want to do some of the things that we did when we were courting that brought us so close.” Janet said, “One of the things we use to do was fix a big pot of espresso and we would put cream and sugar in it and sit before the fireplace and we would smoke pot.” She said, “When I accepted Christ, I didn’t need drugs any more because I have Christ and He’s better than drugs, but my husband wants to do this so that we will grow closer together, have a better relationship, and return to our courtship days, so to speak.” She said, “I want to honor that because he has the right motive and the right idea, but I don’t want to smoke pot. What should I do?” I said, “I don’t have an answer for you Janet, all I can tell you is that I will pray and I will ask God to deliver you. I have no idea how this will turn out.” I prayed for her, David prayed for her, and we called the women’s Bible study that she was in and we all immediately prayed for her. I said, “Girls don’t just pray, get down on your knees and say, “Lord deliver her!”

“We didn’t find out until much later that Janet’s husband came home and he had these cigarettes of pot that he laid out on the coffee table, along with the coffee cups. He put down a big rug and made a fire in the fireplace. She was making coffee in the kitchen, and he came in and said, “how’s the coffee coming? I’ve got everything ready.” She informed him the coffee was just about done. They had an old dog, about 14 or 15 years old that always just kind of stayed in a corner of the kitchen, that really didn’t do anything but get up and eat, drink a little water, go outside, and then come back in and lay in his corner on the rug. She said the coffee was done, and as her husband carried it into the living room, she cleaned up a few things and then she started to go into the living room. As she went past the dog, the dog got up, ran into the living room, jumped up on that coffee table and ate all the pot! He began to run around in circles and ran back into the kitchen. She followed him into the kitchen, he ran to the door, she opened the door, and he disappeared for three days. When he returned, he scratched on the door, and she let him in and he laid back down on the rug like he always did. She said after she had let the dog out, she went back into the living room and her husband looked at her and shook his head. Now, here’s a man who doesn’t give God any credence whatsoever... he said, “Your God certainly takes care of you and protects you, doesn’t He?” Janet said they had a wonderful evening, but just with the coffee. They sat in front of the fireplace and they talked and thought, “wow, what a miraculous God this is...” I couldn’t help but think of 1 Peter, chapter 3... our God tells us that the women should be like Sarah; that they obey their husbands, but trust God and do it without fear, and God will protect and deliver. I couldn’t help but think that this is really similar to that little incident.”

“As Dave and I saw God do these kinds of miracles, we knew that God wanted to use us in full time Christian work. We found Greater Europe Mission and they sent us to Austria where we served and built a church. The church is still going today; they have started a sister church and have sent out four missionaries from that church. We are praising God for what He can do in a country that has very few Christians.”
Dave and Jean also travel to other European countries such as France, Germany, and most recently, Portugal. “When we came home (to the United States) from Europe, the mission contacted us and asked if we would take the job as pastors to missionaries, and we said “yes”. We travel around the United States visiting missionaries on furlough (from foreign countries) and people who have been appointed to go, but who have not yet left this country. They are sometimes wondering what is awaiting them and what it will be like, so we are able to talk to them and answer what questions they may have. We also take trips overseas about three times a year, each visit lasting 3-4 weeks at a time (this fall they will be traveling to mostly Western Europe and the southern countries), meeting with missionaries to help and encourage them in their work.
When I asked Jean if she had any other examples of how God is moving in this world, she said, “What I think is exciting is that God had sent us to Austria to spread the Gospel, and one of the young Austrian men that accepted Christ and was discipled by Dave, traveled to the United States along with his wife and children to a bible school in Wyoming. They came here, learned English, and will now take the Gospel back to Europe. It is interesting how God moves people around to do His will.”

To learn more about Greater Europe Mission, please visit their website: