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Among distant cousins

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A call to co-labour with the church in Germany

MBH interviewed Alex Suderman, who with his wife Carla and four children, is beginning a FOCUS apprenticeship church planting in Germany with Multiply (formerly MB Mission-C2C Network).

Alex and Carla Suderman and family.

Why did you choose to leave pastoral ministry to do cross-cultural work internationally?

God is fulfilling a cross-cultural call on my life from when I was a young adult. Carla too has the call of an evangelist on her life. In the past few years, God has been stirring in us a desire to pioneer a new work in the Western world.

In spring 2017, while I was preparing a sermon on the call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3), I sensed God speak. Carla and I felt released from the church to explore an “unknown land” that God would show us.

Where will you live and what will your ministry look like?

We were invited by European Multiply director Johann Matthies to consider a church planting assignment in the city of Dortmund, Germany. The vision is simply to plant a church that will be a catalyst for further mission alongside the local church in Germany.

Our call is anchored in Jesus’ call to his apostles: to depend on Jesus, to declare the Gospel, and to lead people to deliverance (Mark 3:1–3).

This looks like a risky move for parents of a youthful family: talk about how you processed your move.

Not surprisingly, this is our greatest concern. I am expecting it will be difficult for them. But God’s redemptive story is bigger than our family. We trust that God will use this to bear fruit in their lives for the Kingdom. It is about prioritizing our “loves,” trusting God with our family as we take a risk for Jesus.

How have your children responded to this service opportunity?

Their feelings are mixed. While they are relatively excited, they have also expressed sadness. They are grieving the loss of friends, house, and giving away their cat. Leading our children to be honest with how they feel while trusting Jesus is the best way we know how to prepare them.

What is a key lesson you have been learning through this process?

The Spirit is teaching us to trust God’s leadership, despite not always knowing the next step. We are learning that mission is communal. It is humbling how our partner churches in Canada and Germany are taking care of us.

Not everyone is called to move like we have been. But we have found it to be true that we are all called to take courageous risks for the mission of Jesus, wherever the Spirit has appointed us.

What are some of the challenges and opportunities you foresee in your ministry?

I suspect the greatest challenge will be separation from family and friends. However, I expect that our sense of family will expand. We have already been invited to become guest members in a partner church in Germany.

Interestingly, my last name Suderman derives from the region of Westphalia where Dortmund is situated. In a strange way, we feel God is leading us back to our distant cousins. In the land where my ancestors lived, the opportunity is to help Germans discover that Christianity is not a relic of the past. Jesus is Lord and is present to save us.

This unfolding call on your life coincided with a chain of events in your home church community. What role has that played in your story?

The story of KMB merging with WMB is intertwined with our call. As a leadership team, we had a sense of direction, that God wanted us to intentionally become more missional in our neighbourhood. I connected our leadership with Chris Stevens, lead pastor of WMB, to consider temporary assistance, which led to a permanent relationship. Providentially, the Sunday of our commissioning to Germany, the church voted strongly in favour to merge with WMB!

We identify with the call of Abraham and Sarah, who were called to move forward into the future with the promise that God would bless the nations through them. We do this as we courageously follow Jesus.

Read also

New life at the root

A softened heart for a leap of faith

God moves in circles

An invitation to discipleship

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Harvey Jantzen February 12, 2019 - 01:23

We have been looking forward to receiving our copy of the Herald in the mail after being without it for a few years. I am quite sure that most of the readers of your paper copy would be seniors like myself. The new format has such fine print that it is almost impossible to read. With such wide margins, there really is no reason for such small print.

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Karla Braun February 19, 2019 - 16:18

Thank you for your feedback, Harvey Jantzen. We are grateful for our faithful readers and we appreciate hearing from them about what is working or not.

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