Kristen Penner

My name is Kristen and I’m from the Bergfeld Mennonite Church in Manitoba. I’ve lived in Slovenia now for four years and am working with Avant ministries to plant a locally led church in Koper.

These past few months have brought changes for all of us. I am currently in Canada since I was travelling when borders in Europe started closing due to COVID-19 and I wasn’t able to get back to Slovenia. I am currently doing some online studying, having meetings online with teammates and believers from our church and connecting with people here in Canada.

About Slovenia: Where is Slovenia? Great question! It borders Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the east and Croatia to the south. It is the northern-most part of what used to be Yugoslavia. Though Catholicism is considered their main religion, it is secular more than religious, where most people want to pick and choose from a faith buffet what pieces they will put together. Slovenia has less than 2% evangelical Christians, which is one of the reasons that Avant chose this country to plant a church. Koper is on the coast of Slovenia and is the hardest to the gospel, so the work is difficult, and the fruit can often seem small.

Challenges: One of the bigger hurdles we’ve experienced in our ministry is the cultural norms that lead to the acceptance of sin in believers’ lives. For example, there is a Christian couple, who attends our church, and recently got married after they were confronted about living together before they were married. After this confrontation the lady moved out until they were able to get legally married. There have also been other tense conversations where the result ended up being people leaving our church, and even breaking off all relationships tied to the church. This is challenging and it’s painful to lose friends this way. Yet we are continually leaning into the Holy Spirit and trusting that He is also working in the hearts of His children, convicting and revealing sin when they are truly listening.

Moving Forward: We had a baptism service in mid-June where three people were baptized, all coming from families where they are the only believers. This is common for almost all of our friends who are Christians. Please pray for encouragement and perseverance to remain faithful even when they lack the support from their family. This makes the church very significant, as it becomes their true spiritual family and a new kind of family in Christ.

Camp is still happening this summer, though in a different way. A carnival is being hosted, as well as a weekly outreach to connect not only with new youth in our community but others that may be searching for some spiritual answers or are spiritually curious. You can be praying that this time of outreach would draw new people into our church, those that are truly searching for the truth.

Thank you for your support through the conference! If you want to get connected, I have a whatsapp prayer group as well as a monthly newsletter that you can join. Simply send me an email at kristen.r.penner@avmi.org to get connected. If you are interested in supporting this ministry financially you can also follow this link to set that up: https://avantministries.org/give or contact me directly with any questions.

A link of a video to our recent baptism service:

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