Daniel & Julie Kistenich - Austria
Daniel is a native Austrian who grew up in the city of Krems just outside Vienna. His parents became Christians through missionaries from Oregon and Daniel committed his life to Christ at the age of 6. While studying German literature and linguistics at the University of Vienna, Daniel started a youth group in his home town. He found that he loved leading and preaching and decided to pursue full-time ministry in Austria. After graduating from the University of Vienna in 2002, Daniel and Julie moved to Chicago, where Daniel studied at Moody Graduate School. He graduated with an MDiv in 2005 and then they moved back to Austria to work with churches and youth. Daniel enjoys reading world literature, playing soccer and spending time with his three beautiful girls. He is gifted in leading and preaching.
Julie grew up in Minnesota and graduated from Bethel University where she studied elementary education. During the summers in college, she started going to Austria to put on evangelistic English Camps. Julie fell in love with the people and the country and saw the great need for Austrians to hear the Gospel. After graduating from college she moved to Austria to teach English in schools and to work with youth. Daniel and Julie met during Julie's first year in Austria, became friends and got married in Minneapolis in 1999. Julie loves to travel, read, play piano and hike. She enjoys mentoring teenaged girls and building friendships with women and other moms.
Our three daughters, Rebekka, Miriam and Lydia, are a gift from God to us and we’re thankful that they are healthy and enjoying life in our village outside of Innsbruck. They are bi-lingual and love playing floor hockey, piano and spending time with their friends.
Daniel and Julie Kistenich have been serving in Innsbruck, Austria since the summer of 2005. From 2005-2007, Daniel did an internship at the Innsbruck Evangelical Free Church where he focused on leading the city-wide youth group and preaching. During the summers, Daniel & Julie helped work with evangelistic English Camps.
Starting in 2007, Daniel accepted a call to be the pastor of the Innsbruck Baptist Church, a small church of around 125 people which has been growing over the last few years. During the last years, Daniel & Julie have focused on using their gifts to serve the church and show Christ’s love through words and deeds to the many people around them who do not yet know Christ.
It is Daniel and Julie’s long-term goal to build healthy Austrian churches and reach Austrians for Christ. Since there is a great need for native Austrians to go into full-time ministry, Daniel has been focusing the last few years on training up young men to serve at church. Of Austria's approximately 120 evangelical churches, only 21 are pastored by native Austrians.
How many times have you seen the Sound of Music? If you are like most Americans, the answer is probably at least a few times! But did you know that the beautiful country of Austria featured in the movie is a spiritually very dark and needy country. There are only 0.4% Evangelical Christians in Austria which translates into only 1 out of every 250 people!
Fast Facts about Austria
Population – 8,300,000
Capital – Vienna
Language – German
State Religion – Catholicism
Member of the EU
Today Austria is a typical western European country, influenced greatly by secularism, pluralism and post-modernism. Through corruption and sex scandals, the Catholic Church has faced a major decline in the last decades. Since many Austrians equate Christianity with being Catholic, disillusionment and anger toward the Christian faith is the norm. There is a lack of hope in the country which shows itself in the high suicide rate among youth and widespread alcoholism.
The Evangelical Church Today
According to Operation World, 0.4% of the Austrian population are Evangelical Christians. They are often seen as members of a cult, which is especially true in rural areas. Most churches have between 50-100 attendees and are led by missionaries from Germany and Switzerland or lay leaders. There is a desperate need for theologically trained native leaders, who can provide leadership and stability to the often struggling Austrian churches. Another challenge facing the Evangelical church today is the need to reach unbelievers, especially the younger generation, in a culturally relevant way with the Gospel. Ultimately Austria's hope is for a revival, like the one that swept the country in the 16th century during the Reformation.
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On the Field:
Daniel & Julie Kistenich