FEIC Member Church Spotlight
Aletheia International Church Munich
Pastors: Bernd and Ryoko Armbruster
The FEIC Member Church Spotlight is a feature in which we interview pastors of member churches and learn about their history, what makes the church unique and their current ministry focus.
This interview features are Bernd & Ryoko Armbruster, pastors of All Nations Christian Fellowship in Munich, Germany.
Who We Are
Our names are Bernd & Ryoko Armbruster. I was born and grew up in the Black Forrest in Germany, while Ryoko grew up in Japan. Though our upbringings were very different, we had one thing in common: Neither of us had any interest in or saw any relevance in Christianity.
How We Met
However, God brought both of us to Shanghai, China, where he brought Ryoko into His kingdom in 2002, and me in 2004. We both became members of Shanghai Community Fellowship (SCF, www.shanghaifellowship.org) where we found our spiritual home. We grew up in this community, served there and also got to know each other in 2005. In 2006, we got married and now have three beautiful children, Anna (born 2008), Noah (born 2010) and Abigail (born 2014). From 2011 – 2016 I worked fulltime for SCF as Outreach Director. It was a very rewarding and very fruitful season, seeing dozens of people come to Christ each year. However, we always knew that our time at SCF was still a training ground for what God had for us next. We didn’t know what and when. All we knew was that “God was still preparing us for our long term calling”.
What God Spoke
In 2015, God then brought it all together: He spoke to us about starting an International Church in the city of Munich, Germany. He called us to take some of what we have received in Shanghai and bring it back to my own country. SCF is a unique church, very different from the average church in Germany. SCF puts a strong emphasis on “living in a relationship with God”, hearing God’s voice, etc. It values community, all members are encouraged to join small groups, share life together, be vulnerable to a small group of people, etc. SCF offers ministries that focus on inner healing, etc. All these things were new to me, and are unknown to many people in Germany who would consider themselves church members. It became clear that God called us to bring some of the things that we experienced at SCF back to Germany, and share it with people in my country as well.
So being obedient to God’s calling, we left Shanghai in summer 2016 and now live in Munich, Germany.
Shanghai vs. Germany
Of course, there are significant differences between the two countries: In Shanghai, the atmosphere is very, very difficult, especially for foreigners. Life is difficult, the language is difficult, the culture is difficult, work pressure is high and temptations are everywhere. Many people realize that they need help, they need friends, they need a community that supports and understands them. That’s why many people are more open towards the church, even if they are not yet Christians. They just realize that they need support from other foreigners, and if they can find that from the church community, they are willing to come. Many people have stumbled in the church like this, and have stayed long term.
In Munich, the atmosphere is different, because life is just very, very comfortable. This city is the most expensive city in Germany, because the average income is the highest. As a result, people believe they have everything they need. Houses are very comfortable, bank accounts are full, opportunities to enjoy the money you have are plentiful. Add to that the common misconceptions of “cultural Christianity” and it’s very hard to get people interested in Jesus.
At the same time, many people feel lonely. Friendships are superficial and temporary. Relationships are always expected to be “just for now, and tomorrow we’ll see”. Marriage is rejected by many as an outdated concept, because lifelong commitments are not the norm any longer. As a result, people live in marriage-like relationships (even with children), but feel insecure and lonely all the time.
We are still praying about how to best reach out to the community. But obviously, offering genuine friendship and community will be a key to get people to open up to the church.
About Our Church Plant
The name of our new church is Aletheia, which is the Greek word for Truth in the original text of the Bible. It is found many times in the New Testament, e.g. John 8:32, John 4:23 or John 14:6
Many people in Germany THINK they know what Christianity is all about. But digging a little bit deeper, we would quickly find out that they don’t know. Biblical Truth is mixed together with cultural Christianity, wrong teachings from school and wrong messages from people who call themselves Christians. That’s why we want to bring the True Gospel, the Truth of Jesus Christ, to people here, confronting all the cultural misinformation that has confused people over the many centuries.
As of right now, we have started running one small group on Friday nights. Our next goal is to have a regular Sunday service. We believe that such a service would make it a lot easier for people to “give Aletheia a try”, since they feel intimidated to join a small group with people they don’t know.
Our greatest need to reach this goal are people who have the maturity and commitment to come alongside us to get a regular Sunday Service going. We need a worship leader who can lead under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We need people who come alongside us in prayer. We need people who simply commit to “being there whenever possible”. And we need people who help us invite others, spread the word to the community, etc.
Please Pray For Us
We are doing our part. But with me doing freelance work to provide for the family, and Ryoko doing the Integration and Language Course, we are simply limited in what we can do. We need more people who have the heart and maturity to support us, to reach our next goal. We would appreciate your prayers to support us for this need.
If you would like to keep in touch with us, then you can do that through several channels:
AIC Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/aicmunich
Our personal blog: http://www.simplesecrets.info/blog.php
Our personal Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/berndryoko
The church webpage: www.aicmunich.org (Very simple for now)
Our Vision Document: http://aicmunich.de/aletheia-vision.pdf
To contact us directly: [email protected] or (+49)-176-2965 8617
Thank you very much for reading our story and praying for us. We are very excited to be part of the FEIC network. We hope to be able to connect with many of you over the next few months and years.