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Ministry Report from Germany/Switzerland

We arrived in Kandern, Germany on Wednesday afternoon (home of Black Forest Academy…go to for info on this wonderful school) and were picked up by Israel and his wife, Dani. We had a wonderful evening with them in spite of being so tired from the long flight. We spent the night in the home of high school Chaplin, Sam and Jenn Stemple. After a good night’s rest, we spent the day with Israel and Dani just relaxing and walking around the village of Kandern. Israel and I even drove into Weil am Rein to a German Harley shop to get a tee shirt for a friend of mine!

The next day, we drove with Greg and Myriam Grano (Personnel Housing Coordinator for BFA) to Lenk, Switzerland where normal German is replaced by either High German or French. It did not matter as we were able to communicate with most we encountered, making for often humorous memories. As long as I can ask where the bathroom is, I am fine (Wo ist die toilette?). We were so disappointed that, due to illness, Israel (BFA Communication Supervisor) and Dani (BFA Assistant Chaplain, High School) were unable to go with us as they had planned. It was very difficult for Melinda and I to have to be at the retreat without Israel and Dani...but knew we were to be there for the kids and staff.

There were 260 students and staff at the retreat, representing 52 different nations. These students are generally the children of missionaries. The school is a Godsend for parents who would like a Christ-centered education for their children but are unable to obtain it in the nation they serve. Some children are there for reasons of safety, such as girls from homes in Muslim nations, etc. Most of the children speak at least one language, while many speak multiple languages. Most, when asked, do not know what to say concerning where they are from.

The first night of the retreat went very well. After a session of small groups competing in “Minute To Win It” challenges (which were hilarious!), we launched into worship. I do not think the kids expected an old guy to be so passionate. The Holy Spirit moved and the feedback was very positive. There was some concern the students would not know any of my music. I never allow that to discourage me, believing the heart of the new creation will latch on to and embrace whatever is being used to convey love to God. They knew more than they realized and worship was beautiful. As I sang “Passionate Obsession” over the gathering, several began to weep. I knew God would move mightily in individual lives.

The next day, Melinda and I rested while the children skied, ice-skated, sledded, and played games. That evening, the final rounds of “Minute To Win It” were held and, once again, I laughed a lot. Melinda and I think we will try some of these games at an upcoming family event! Before worship began, Chaplain Sam shared how difficult the day had been, mainly from the stress of little fires from coordinating new activities (the air was too warm for the ice rink to be open!) to getting 5 sick children back home to Kandern (one of them being his own!). I then felt the Holy Spirit lead me to share about the birth of the song “It’s Gonna Be Alright” and asking those who felt like giving up to stand for ministry…asking those who felt abandoned and lonely to stand for ministry…and asking those who were wounded in their soul to stand for ministry. There were hardly enough people left seated to help lay hands on those who were standing, so they simply laid hands on one another. As the first phrase of the song rang out, weeping began to break out and healing began to flow. I felt like the Lord was moving mightily.

After worshiping together, I went right into my testimony and shared the entire thing. The students were so attentive and engaged. It was obvious they were being ministered to. Afterwards, I had several who asked to talk with me about everything from same sex attraction to song writing and how to know the next steps in their future ministry. Many simply asked if they could just hug me. What amazing young people they are. After times like this I understand so much more of why the Lord allowed me to go through all I have gone through. He wastes nothing… This generation is facing such adversity due to their faith. I want them to have the passion to be able to go against the flow…and many of these young people have the grace to do just that.

Sunday morning, I sang “The Blessing Song” over them and then we ended the retreat with communion. Sam asked if we could close with the song “Here in Your Presence”. This was so beautiful and meaningful to me…to know that the next generation would be singing their heartcry using one of my songs…a deep blessing.

Melinda and I had taken some of my CDs and were able to offer them to the students for whatever they could afford…even if that was just a penny. One had only a dime. Others only a few Swiss Francs and others only a few Euros. This was so precious to Mel and I to be able to do. Thank you to all who helped make this trip possible by your financial support. I am already receiving emails from students who have asked for help. Please pray for them and even consider supporting the school and staff. The entire staff is self-supporting and is committed to providing a premier education to the students. Any help would be greatly appreciated and would reap benefits for generations to come.

Dennis and Melinda

To see pictures of the trip go to¬e_id=10150109330003611#!/album.php?fbid=10150136732484777&id=507304776&aid=290874

We want to thank Chaplain Sam Stemple for the honor and privilege of the opportunity of helping with the retreat. Sam is a great man who loves those kids and lays down his life for them. We are so honored to know him and Jenn.

Thanks also to Phil Peters, Director of BFA, for this great privilege of helping minister to these wonderful young people. We are so grateful!

Thanks to our Finnish soundman, Pepe Tolonen, for making the ministry time so easy. Thanks also for the encouragement and friendship!