This new Resource Center plans a 2016 launch in Vienna. More details on this new venture as soon as they become available.
I (Kathy Smith) had the honor and privilege of traveling to Austria earlier this month and staying with Vision graduate, Dr. Erich Riem and his wife Bridget. Their lovely home is located in Strasshof an der Nordbahn, meaning “Strasshof at the Northern railway,” it is some 25 km east of Vienna.
Years ago, while Hitler was still in power, Strasshof was just little more than a work camp for Hungarian Jews. Now it is a quaint little town with growing families and many of the amenities found in any rural town in the United States. The railway is still a prominent mode of transportation to downtown Vienna.
Dr. Riem and Bridget have a real heart for planting churches and expanding the kingdom of God in Austria. That is the primary reason they immigrated to Austria from Switzerland, early in their marriage. They have remained in Austria to this day. They now have 6 children, four adult children; and two foster sons that are still in elementary school. They also have 2 grandchildren.
Dr. Riem is employed by the Salvation Army located in downtown Vienna where he works with many homeless and recovering addicts.
From this humble beginning, he started a church. Initially, the congregation met in the Salvation Army building where he worked. Soon however, the church grew and it was necessary to find a building that would house the expanding ministry. Since then, many others have joined the congregation and it continues to grow.
The initial group worshiped in their native German language. However, a need to expand their services to accommodate people speaking other languages soon developed. So now there is a service for those speaking Turkish on Sunday afternoon, and those who speak Bulgarian on Sunday evening. Dr. Riem oversees all three groups, but he has appointed leaders who are fluent in Turkish and Bulgarian to lead the other two services. All three congregations share the same building in downtown Vienna.
In addition to the three groups meeting in the church in Vienna, a need arose to accommodate believers in Strasshof, where the Riem family resides. So now, they have also started a house church that meets in their family home on Friday evenings.
With a growing need to prepare leaders in each of these congregations, a school of ministry is quickly becoming a necessity. Therefore, Dr. Riem is planning to launch the resource center in Vienna sometime in 2016. More details as they become available.
In addition to ministering to the congregations of the German church, the Bulgarian church, the home church and the women’s brunch on Saturday morning, I also had the opportunity to see the sites in downtown Vienna.
What wonderful time I had with the whole Riem family, it is not an experience that I will soon forget! I am so grateful for their warm hospitality and the opportunity to serve in Vienna. Let us keep them in our prayers as they begin this new chapter of ministry with the launch of the school…. in the very heart of Vienna.