What is Central Europe? This is an interesting question that will probably bring a different answer depending on who you ask. Is this region defined by a common language, distinctive geographic features, similar political histories, or shared religious influences? The short answer is, “Sort of … but not necessarily.”
Some definitions cite a shared connection between countries that contain a section of the Danube River. Other definitions may look to common lands formerly ruled by the Hapsburg dynasty. Perhaps the most helpful definition from a missiological perspective would be: nations in the geographic center of Europe that were not part of the Soviet Union but were influenced by communism and now have significant non-religious populations.
In 1951, EMM began its European work in Luxembourg, a small country about the size of Lancaster County, Pa., straddling the borders between Belgium, France, and Germany. Depending on your definition of Central Europe, Luxembourg doesn’t quite fit. But the EMM workers in Luxembourg found an incredible way to reach past the Iron Curtain and share the gospel with people in places like East Germany, Hungary, and Poland.
Harvey J. Miller had been appointed by EMM (then EMBMC) to oversee combined Anabaptist mission efforts in Europe. He and his wife, Mildred, lived in Luxembourg, Germany, and Switzerland. During this time, Harvey led a German-language radio program. Despite some time-slot problems that faced the program, they determined to keep the programming going because a significant number of listeners were tuning into the shortwave program from communist-influenced Central European countries.
Decades after this first effort to reach people in Central Europe, EMM continued to send workers to different locations with a goal of sharing the good news of Jesus with people who did not have a relationship with Him. Today, our team serves in places like Germany, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Albania with ministry to people from Muslim backgrounds, post-Christendom Europeans, and refugees.