Two years ago, Steve Wendel, a missionary to the Czech Republic, was hanging Christmas lights on his newly rented home when a young couple approached his gate.
“Can we come inside and look around the house?” the young man asked. “Excuse me?” Steve replied in Czech. “I don’t think I understand.”
“We want to look at the house. We are interested in bidding on it.”
They studied his face and could see that Steve didn’t comprehend why they were there. The couple shifted uncomfortably.
“You aren’t the owner, are you?” the young man realized out loud. “This house is going up for auction next week.”
Steve’s face fell. His family had just moved into the house. They were still settling in, and now, 10 days before Christmas, they discovered that their house was in foreclosure and being auctioned to pay their landlord’s debt. Their landlord had never uttered a word about it.
The Wendels had already been having a hard year of transitions, but overall their ministry was going well. Their evangelistic English classes in their rented space were at maximum capacity, and Steve had begun that God would increase the reach of their ministry. They knew they could do more, but they simply didn’t have the space to do it in. Now they didn’t even have a home.
It was a very hard Christmas. Steve wanted to enjoy celebrating the birth of their Savior with his family, but all he could think about was finding a place to live — and the rental market in their town was meager. Many Czechs were putting off relocating until the new year, but the Wendels didn’t have a choice.
As a last resort, Steve went to check out a place that was barely in the final stages of construction. From the outside, it appeared to be some sort of commercial structure, but inside, they found it had an apartment large enough for their growing family. And downstairs, they discovered a multi-purpose space that was perfect for a ministry center.
“I would never have chosen the inconvenience of another move, but sometimes God moves us so we can grow,” said Steve.
The Wendels moved into their new home in late January, and opened the Tree of Life Center in March 2013. Since then, they’ve been able to share the gospel with more than 100 people, and they’ve been able to train local believers in evangelistic ministry. In addition, the new center has allowed the Wendels to host numerous outreach events, including Bible studies, evangelistic English classes, and camps.
“So many ministries have been made possible by the new center,” said Steve. “Well, the center and lots of hard, but fruitful, work.”