Our goals were to strengthen relationship with the Funks, provide intercessory prayer ministry and encouragement to the Austrian MB churches, gain an awareness of church planting issues in Austria, and grow spiritually as a team. To prepare, we studied about prayer, short-term mission, and Austrian culture. We had planning meetings, learned about prayer walks and blogging, and even fundraised, as assigned by MBMSI – a humbling experience for a group capable of paying its way. We received tremendous support from our church, friends, and family in prayer, finances, encouragement, and hands-on assistance.
As we drove through the Austrian countryside, visiting the churches in Wels, Steyr, Linz, and Vienna, we felt like Paul on his missionary journeys, “visiting all the believers, encouraging them and helping them to grow in the Lord” (Acts 18:23b). Our mission was similar. We shared testimonies, sang, and preached in Salzburg and Gmunden. “It was glorious to experience how people, who live so far apart from each other, could be so closely united with each other,” said one Austrian leader.
In Gmunden, where the Funks’s ministry began 21 years ago, we cleaned windows and did yard work. We and our new Austrian friends connected well, as though language and cultural barriers were gone.
Because of our experiences in Austria, our lives and perspectives have changed. We met the people Richard and Hazel love, so names now have faces and connections. We experienced mission work firsthand, so we see the importance of support, encouragement, communication, and prayer. Our eyes are open in a new way to the mission field in Saskatchewan as well as overseas.
We learned that such an assignment is not only for 10 days, but starts with the idea and continues after arrival back home.