Alumnus Sees European Refugee Crisis as Opening for Faith
North Greenville University alumnus Philipp Meinecke (’00) knows eight languages. And he might get to use more than a few of them for his new ministry role in Germany, a country where immigrant populations continue to rise.
Meinecke, who graduated from North Greenville with a bachelor’s degree in Christian studies, joined the staff of Precept Ministries International (Precept Ministries) in summer 2016.
A Christian organization that reaches nearly 180 countries across the globe, Precept Ministries produces Bible study materials in 70 different languages. The ministry also facilitates training workshops designed to equip believers with tools for inductive Bible study.
“The vision is to establish people in God’s word,” says Meinecke.
As the network director for German-speaking Europe, Meinecke oversees the ministry’s operations not only in Germany, but also in Austria and Switzerland.
His primary focus is to provide churches in these nations with high-quality Bible study materials; to partner with churches, ministries, and theological institutions in teaching their members how to read and understand Scripture; and to encourage pastors through conferences, workshops, and seminars.
“This is a post-Christian era. There are only a few churches left in German-speaking Europe that still hold to the basic tenets of the faith,” he explains. “To say that Scripture is the authoritative word of God in all matters of faith, practice, and application — that’s a far cry.”
Evangelical Christians make up only 2.3% of the population in German-speaking Europe, and less than half of them will ever share their faith, according to Meinecke. These believers, he adds, either do not have a strong grasp on the Christian faith or do not feel equipped to share it with their countrymen and the more than 85 ethnic groups that have integrated themselves into Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
“Add to that the Syrian and Afghani refugees that have come in,” says Meinecke, a number that exceeds one million. “You don’t even have to do foreign missions anymore. The mission field is already there.”
Meinecke believes now is the perfect time to reach the many people that call German-speaking Europe home.
“This is the time to dream big,” he says. “It’s no longer about one particular organization. It’s about, ‘What can I do as an individual to make a kingdom impact?’”
Meinecke sees his role as mobilizing Christians in German-speaking Europe to share their faith, and it’s a role he takes very personally.
Born in Stuttgart, Germany, Meinecke first learned about the gospel message in an unlikely way.
His mom ran a classified ad in the local newspaper to sell their old ski equipment. A family of newly converted Christians came in response to the ad and, during their visit, witnessed to Meinecke’s family.
“For someone to come to my home and share the good news with us [was] a statistical anomaly,” says Meinecke.
His mother became a Christian, and he eventually did, as well.
After high school, Meinecke decided to learn more about his faith by studying at Word of Life Bible Institute in Hungary and then continue his studies to earn a bachelor’s degree. When he asked his mentor, a missionary with the International Mission Board (IMB), where he should go, the mentor recommended North Greenville College.
Meinecke entered North Greenville as a Christian studies major. At the time, the college was just beginning to see increased enrollment of international students. Meinecke helped form the first International Club on campus.
Also during Meinecke’s studies, Steve Crouse with Campus Ministries began organizing chaplains for each residence hall on campus. Meinecke volunteered as part of the first group of chaplains alongside his peers Steven Furtick — current lead pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C. — and Jody Jennings, current director of Baptist Student Union (BSU) at NGU.
Meiencke remembers his days at North Greenville as integral in the growth of his spiritual life.
“I had no idea what Christianity could be like, because I’d never seen that many Christians my age together in Germany. Period,” he says.
And Meinecke maintains that his NGU education helped to prepare him for his career in ministry.
“There was not one professor that I can remember that just wanted to teach a student. They wanted to invest in the person. That shaped how I view ministry,” he says.
After graduating from North Greenville, Meinecke went on to earn his doctorate in biblical languages from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, then pursuing a career in pastoral ministry. He served as associate pastor of Life Baptist Church (Life) in Las Vegas, Nev., from 2004 to 2016.
According to Meinecke, Life was one of the most successful church plants on the West Coast, with 1,400 members and three services on Sunday mornings. But the Lord called Meinecke to a new venture.
“God [said], ‘I want you to leave all that so you understand when you were called to the call of ministry, [you] surrendered to the Shepherd, and the Shepherd can lead the sheep wherever He wants,’” says Meinecke. “[Ministry is] not about organizations, denominations, building our own empires. It’s about people.”
While he enjoyed pastoring at Life, Meinecke believes that his current job with Precept Ministries is a “perfect fit,” too.
Before moving back to Germany for the position, Meinecke decided to pay a visit to NGU’s Tigerville campus with his family. He says that he enjoyed seeing the school’s growth and, in particular, the new Craft-Hemphill Center for Evangelism, Missions, and Christian Worldview.
“The tenacious belief that Christ does make a difference was fleshed out in pretty much everything we did [when I was a student at North Greenville],” Meinecke says. “This is different than the NGU I attended 16 years ago. But the vision is the same.”
For more information about the College of Christian Studies at NGU, visit ngu.edu/college-of-christian-studies.php.
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