A South African evangelist who began her ministry by praying for German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke's huge campaigns in Africa is now reaching the spiritually desolate cities of Western Europe.
Although she initially resented God moving her to Europe and being dropped "among the dry bones of the European church," Suzette Hattingh now tells "Charisma" magazine the continent is the "greatest mission field ever" because of the region's spiritual poverty.
"Europe is dry, but I believe that there is no such thing as a country you cannot reach," Hattingh, 46, said. "One problem is that we want to import the revival from other countries, but revivals you cannot import. God has different patterns for different places, and we need to seek God for his pattern in each country."
God had a different pattern for Hattingh, who moved to Frankfurt, Germany, in 1986 -- and hated it -- after working for Bonnke's Christ for all Nations for six years. In a profile in the October issue of "Charisma," she recalls being snowbound in the northernmost town of Tromsö, Norway, in 1987, feeling utterly alone and forgotten, even by God.
"I really struggled [with being in Europe]," Hattingh said. "But then I had a vision. I saw a pen, and it was engraving Europe on my spirit!" God's call was clear, and Hattingh's obedience developed into a passion. She became a German citizen, and when she founded her own ministry, Voice in the City (VitC), in 1997, she based it in Frankfurt.
In April and May, VitC, together with local churches, staged the first full-scale "Taking the City" (TtC) campaign in the south German town of Deggendorf. "In Europe [the evangelistic ministries] seem to move in and out again without making a deeper impact," Hattingh said. "Europe needs a different approach, and I think we have found it."
In contrast to the typical evangelistic routine, her ministry's concept requires a minimal budget for advertisement. For a month, the local Christians in Deggendorf paired up to visit individual households, asking if there was anything they could do to help in a practical way. There was also a "helping hand hot line."
"I had asked myself if the Germans would close their doors on us, but only some 15 percent did!" said Hattingh, noting that the effort reached 45 percent of all inner-city households. "People talked to us, invited us in. They were so amazed that we did this for nothing. The concept was so new and appealing that the media picked up on it right away, and we had an outstanding press!"
Another key concept of the TtC campaigns is called "doing the package" by Hattingh, noting that it combines servanthood, street evangelism, intercession and evangelistic meetings.
"The final meeting gathered 450 people only, but half of them were nonbelievers, and that is an amazing percentage!" Hattingh said. "Also there was a spirit of conviction that I had not yet experienced in Europe. People truly repented."
Pastor Günther Geier of Christuszentrum Ostbayern, the Deggendorfer church hosting the campaign, said the TtC campaign resulted in 140 confirmed, immediate conversions, with many more backslidden believers rededicating themselves to the Lord. Geier claims that his whole church is now "on fire" and will "keep going" with an unprecedented 98 percent of the 450 members participating actively.