Stories from Our Missionaries : God’s Call to Europe

How do you know what God is calling you to do?    

In a world of seemingly endless possibilities, it may feel overwhelming to find the answer. Perhaps you know you’re meant to serve missionally––but do you know how?   

Thankfully, as we spend time with God, He speaks to us. He tells us, often uniquely, what is best for us, directing our path. Greater Europe Mission’s global workers are no exception. God called each to serve in a continent that is hungry for truth, but lacking in true Gospel teachings.  

These GEM workers shared with us the unique ways God called them to serve in Europe.   


DP Strellman found God directing him to great need and historic opportunity in Russia.  

In 1990, I was between jobs and spoke fluent Spanish. I thought perhaps God could use my business skills in some way in Latin America, so I loaded a backpack and travelled for four months in Mexico, Ecuador, and Chile. At the end of the trip, I realized that God had plenty of workers there. I wasn’t really needed.

When the Berlin wall fell in 1989, many countries were opened to the Gospel for the first time in years. In 1992, I headed to Moscow, not knowing a word of Russian. I served in a new bilingual church and helped in the Moscow Billy Graham crusade where 100,000 came to hear the Gospel. I ended up serving Russian evangelists for 12 years during the most open years of its history, which led to another 18 years serving in Eastern Europe where the need is still great. I am so glad I didn’t limit myself to Latin America!  


Allison De La Torre’s sister lived in Europe for over 15 years and married a German, so the continent already had a big place in Allison’s heart.  

In November 2022, God clearly spoke to me that He was calling me overseas for His mission. As I pursued different options, I learned about GEM, and I had both peace and major excitement. The kind of work I’ll get to do with GEM aligns with multiple dreams of mine…God has clearly written this as the next step in my “career” journey.  

Allison’s heart goes out to those who intentionally or unintentionally keep Jesus at a far distance. She hopes as she moves from missionary appointee to cross-cultural worker, she’ll see a revival like that of the Acts Church 2000 years ago.   


Dave Zehr’s obedience to God’s calling led to a successful church plant in Austria.  

When I completed my junior year at Taylor University in 1952, the quartet I was singing with was asked to go to Germany to help Youth for Christ with tent campaigns for the summer. We saw approximately 1,000 decide for Christ that summer, but then learned from some of the young people that they had no local gospel preaching church in their area. At that moment, a seed was planted in my heart.  

Four years later, after determining God was leading my wife and me to Germany, we went to a small church in Ohio for some pastoral experience. During that time, we were appointed with GEM and in April of 1962, we headed for Germany, fully supported at $435 per month.  

After leading Dave and his wife to Germany, and then to Austria––where there were no GEM missionaries––He connected them with a zealous, local Christian lady. Together, they started a home Bible study that is now currently one of the largest Evangelical churches in Austria.   


“My life has been made up of God presenting me with opportunities of many types, and serving Him in Europe is no exception,” Fred Naff starts.  

I went to Florence, Italy for my last year of college, studying architecture. While I was there, I met a couple with InterVarsity (IFES) and joined a summer evangelism team in the town of Perugia after my studies were done. I ended up going back to Perugia two years later with InterVarsity to try to reach university students for Christ. While I was there, I met my wife, who is Greek, and I moved to Greece to marry her in 1988. We thought of leaving Greece for the US, but the Lord brought me an opportunity to serve Him as an architect with GEM. So, I started doing that in 1995 and have been doing it ever since with GEM Design Group.  


Kathy Stalnaker spent 34 years serving in Belgium and the Netherlands, but it all started in the US.  

Not long after we were married, Cecil and I decided to attend the Urbana Missions Conference to see what the Lord would show us. Each evening in their sports arena, we watched a multi-media presentation about a different part of the world. On the evening that they featured Europe, we were both struck by all the cathedrals there that were mostly empty.   

A few years later, at GEM’s candidate school, we learned that there was a need for professors in the French side of the Belgian Bible Institute. We also learned that in the US there was one Christian worker for every several hundred people, while in Belgium there was only one Evangelical worker for every 32,000 people.  

Through these findings, God stirred their hearts to serve, leading the Stalnakers to become full-time missionaries in Belgium and the Netherlands.    


As a new believer at 21, Mo Blackmon barely understood her own faith, let alone missions.  

God brought Debbie Williams (now Deborah Bourbeau) into my life, and we quickly became close friends. Her parents––GEM missionaries in Sweden––invited us and two others to join them in the newly independent country of Latvia where GEM had just been invited to start a new work. This led to a desperate need for understanding if God Himself was calling me to Latvia or if the calling was just for my friends.  

Mo began asking others how they understood their call, looking for her own answer, but to no avail. They each gave her a unique reply, none of which resonated with her.   

At the fall conference of my final year of Bible college, Dr. Helen Roseveare spoke. She said, “I want to talk with you about how to know God’s calling on your life.” I literally sat up straight in my chair, certain that this was God responding to the question of my heart.  

I was not disappointed. She spoke from 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, saying that if you have answered God’s initial call to become a new creation in Christ, then the following Scriptures applied to you as well: God has therefore given you the ministry of reconciliation, He is entrusting to you that message of reconciliation, you are therefore an ambassador for Christ. That was it! I later left the auditorium and walked around the edge of town by the wheatfields in the cool prairie evening, praying, “Okay God, I know you are calling me to Latvia. I’ll go! Where is that again?!”  

We four college grads were invited to Latvia for an initial eight months. At last year’s Annual Conference, three of the four of us celebrated 30 years of God’s faithfulness in His call for us to serve him in Latvia.  


God made the paths clear to these individuals because they were listening.  

Are you listening?    

Is God calling you to serve missionally or perhaps support those who are already serving in obedience? If you’d like to explore the options of serving in Europe, contact