Interview With the Bruns
Posted on 12/20/22 in Global Outreach, Blog, Germany, Outreach
After being faithful Fellowship Bible Church members since 2004, Nate and Brittany Bruns and their three kids moved to Potsdam, Germany, in the summer of 2016 to be Fellowship missionaries. Recently, Nate and Brittany shared about their journey to global missions and the work they’ve been doing in Potsdam.
FBC: What led you to become missionaries in Germany? How did discipleship play a part in your calling to Germany?
Nate: I think we’re very atypical missionaries. Growing up, I didn’t ask God to make me a missionary because I was afraid of going to Africa. You know—grass huts, wild animals, etc. Then, several years ago, when we started getting interested in missions, I became action-oriented, wanting to do something that showed results, like digging a well or building a hut—something like that. The idea of going to Germany and sitting in a coffee shop and relating to someone in Potsdam didn’t make a lot of sense. We called that being an “iPad” missionary.
Of course, I was mistaken… my view was immature. As I was wrestling with this, God spoke to me during a Fellowship service on a Saturday night. He impressed on me that my spiritual gifts were relational in nature and that He could use them overseas in building relationships. I didn’t need to build mud huts or dig wells to be effective in missions.
Brittany: And going back even further, during the first year of our marriage, we heard a pastor say that if you ever want to do something incredible for your marriage, go on a mission trip together. For some reason, that stuck in our minds. Fast-forward 13 years, and Nate and I were coming out of some intense marriage counseling; the idea of going on a short-term trip with a Fellowship team to Potsdam really appealed to us. The healing in our relationship allowed us to dream with God about doing ministry work as a couple.
FBC: Did you have an interest in missions before this? Was there a sense that you would one day become missionaries?
Brittany: No, not at all! We had a very comfortable life here in Williamson County, but it was really through Nate losing his job as a pharmaceutical rep in 2013 that God began to change the direction of our lives. We began to ask some big questions of the Lord… we knew He was up to something, but we didn’t know what.
On that short-term trip to Germany in September of 2014, we both sensed a connection with the work in Potsdam, so much so that we began to ask questions like, “Is it possible the Lord might be calling us to work here?” and “Is there any overlap between our giftings and the needs we see in Germany?”
When we returned home, I was scared to death that God was leading us overseas. So, I tried to stop listening to Him… I tried to close my spiritual ears so that I wouldn’t hear His voice. Of course, God was gracious, and over the course of time, He patiently found ways to excite my heart about moving our family to join the work in Potsdam.
FBC: So, you find yourselves living in Germany and joining the work at mittendren church in Potsdam, in former East Germany. How did you begin your work there?
Nate: The first step was intensive language study for Brittany and me, which turned out to be a great way to build relationships. The language class was full of people from all over the world: Syria, Afghanistan, Iran… so many places. We developed many wonderful relationships with these folks. Then, as our German improved, we connected with Germans at our kids’ schools, with our neighbors, and so on. So, relationship-building with the German people happened very naturally.
Brittany: As we progressed in our language skills, we decided to join and then co-lead a small group from church. We noticed that many Germans had a difficult time connecting their head and their heart. We wanted to help those in our group make that connection. Using what we had seen modeled in our Fellowship small group, we began hosting something we called “Waffles and Feelings.” We’d gather to eat yummy waffles and then ask questions like, “What is God currently doing in your life?” or “How do you feel about your relationship with Jesus?” Nate’s relational gifting made him great at leading others in this.
Then, over time, our church work began to dovetail with relationships in the community. While Nate was busy on the leadership team at church—meeting with small group leaders and overseeing that ministry—I was building deep, meaningful friendships in the community. I had been reading a book called “Half the Sky,” which deals with the oppression of women in third-world countries. In one small paragraph, the author speaks of the gap between believers and unbelievers (he calls it the “God gap”) and what might happen when both groups address important societal issues together.
I decided to start a women’s book club, where I would invite both believers and unbelievers to read and discuss books together. We read biographies of strong women, everything from Corrie Ten Boom to Michelle Obama! Then we’d discuss what we were reading, and in God’s design, the topics always turned toward spirituality. The key thing, however, was that unbelievers were forming relationships with believers. Germans are hungry for community, and this was a great way to build natural relationships to bring the church and the city together for the purpose of sharing Jesus.
FBC: That sounds exciting! And a very natural way to build relationships. When it comes to the topic of discipleship, how would you describe what this looks like in your particular context?
Nate: We’ve wrestled with this question and have come to see discipleship as the process of moving people from wherever they are toward Jesus. For us, it’s that simple. One of our coworkers explains it by drawing a horizontal line across a blank page, with a door drawn somewhere near its midpoint. The door represents the door of salvation—the point when a person decides to follow Jesus. For me, much of my time and attention has been given to the church in Potsdam, to those on the right side of that door, helping them grow more like Christ. Whereas Brittany has developed incredible relationships within the community, focusing on those who are to the left of that door. Everybody is on that line somewhere; our goal is to help everyone move toward Jesus, wherever they are on that line.
Brittany: I will say, the process can look very different depending on what side of that door you’re focusing on. Many Germans are atheists, and it often takes years of relationship-building before they’ll listen to you talk about Jesus.
Nate: Yes, for instance, over the years, we have experienced antagonistic atheists soften to our presence and ask us about our work with the church. We have witnessed an atheistic friend get saved after six years of attending church with his believing wife. Brittany has been part of a prayer team dedicated to praying for a friend who was the most determined atheist. After years of prayers, she had the privilege of serving the now-believing friend his first communion. I have led unchurched families in a simple prayer for the meal at dinner and had them say, “That is the first time I have ever prayed.” Brittany has had the opportunity to talk about strong women in the Bible after her self-proclaimed feminist friend said she did not know of any except Mary. It’s exciting and beautiful… but it’s slow. And we consider every small step a win!
FBC: In closing, what would you say to someone who is considering involvement in global missions?
Brittany: Well, it definitely shouldn’t be done on a wing and a prayer! I would encourage people to do the things that help them discern God’s voice to confirm His call. How have you heard God speak before? Perhaps through trusted people, journaling, intentional prayer time, listening to praise music, etc.? Go back to those things to hear Him speak again. On top of that, let His Word speak to you in confirming ways. Read God’s Word, listening for Him to speak through passages that confirm His direction in your life, then write down the date in the margins of your Bible. When missions work gets tough, these will be reminders of how God led you in your life.
Nate: I agree… make sure God is calling you; it’s not for the faint of heart. That said, missions work is beautiful and oh so rewarding! And any sacrifices you make are more than worth it. But that’s true for all of us, isn’t it? Whether you’re an engineer or a teacher or a missionary, there are sacrifices in following God no matter where we are. And they’re all worth it!
For us, our family feels so honored to represent Fellowship in a different culture. It’s where God has placed us, and we are so grateful.
To learn more about Fellowship’s missionary philosophy, please check out our webpage at fellowshipbiblechurch.org/outreach or schedule a meeting with Suzan Hicks ( ).