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Church in Vienna, Austria, Uses Many Ways to Serve and Reach Out

by: Stafford North | February 8, 2017

As churches on the mission field or at home seek to reach out with the gospel to those who need to hear it, they can use a wide variety of ways to make contacts.  The church in Vienna, Austria, where Jake and Amanda Haskew along with Will and Holly Kooi serve as missionaries, provides a good illustration of such outreach.

Because Vienna has been the point through which many refugees have come from Syria and other places in the middle-east, the church there has sought to take advantage of this opportunity.  When the refugees began coming in 2015, the church was able to meet some of their immediate needs with food and clothing.  In the last few months, however, they have turned to meeting longer term needs of the refugees such as providing German courses, preparing them for the coming winter, encouraging them, and developing relationships. 

As they have engaged in this work to serve refugees, they have not only been able to reach out to the refugees, but their work has also put them in contact with other agencies who are seeking to help.  Because of the good experiences which they were ready to share, the mission team conducted two evening seminars at their office about how to help refugees.  In these, they did some role playing to put those present in the mind-set of those who had left their homes to escape the violence.  This was done to help those serving the refugees to understand how best to relate to them. They also brought in refugees to speak.  Jake Haskew said, “We are excited about the relationships and contacts we made. . . .”  The city department that works with refugees helped to arrange and announce the seminar, and this offered some additional good contacts.  To improve the team’s knowledge about work in this area, Will also attended the seminar recently held in Athens where church workers discussed how best to serve the refugees both physically and spiritually, a seminar which Good News described in the January issue.

Another way the Vienna church reaches out is through its youth program. The young people do Bible studies together, of course, but also go with each other to movies and to do service projects. In 2016 they studied “How to Live Like Jesus” and “How to Nurture and Grow Your Faith.” They also use the messaging app WhatsApp as a way to keep in touch and to help everyone keep up with activities and Bible studies.  Such an approach fits well with today’s youth culture.

Since Will and Holly have recently had another child, Holly joined the Vienna Babies Club and this puts her in contact with many ex-patriots who live there.  This program is a very large one with many subgroups.  One of these is based on the birth-month of the child and so she joined this one to meet weekly with others who have similar interests. Holly is hosting occasional meetings of the group at the team’s office.  When the group needed a district coordinator, Holly volunteered so she would have additional opportunities to host meetings.  They believe this type of contact will enable more people to know about the team and the church.

Through these and other types of contacts, this congregation in Vienna is finding ways to spread the gospel thus setting an example for all of us to search for opportunities to reach out.