Gunar & Shirley Gerthe – Fire Starters
Charis Bible College graduates, Gunar and Shirley Gerthe, have heard the Lord’s call and traded a well-established life and ministry in Texas for life on the mission field in Germany. The Gerthes, who graduated from CBC-Dallas, are the Directors of the brand new CBC extension school in Birkenfeld. Although the couple grew up, married and raised their family primarily in Texas, this journey is a homecoming of sorts for Gunar—he was born in Dessau, Germany in 1939. Gunar’s family moved to America in the early 1950’s when he was 13.
It was in the 1960’s that Gunar and Shirley began their life together. In the seventies, after spending several years in Boulder, Colorado, the Gerthes, including their two sons and daughter, returned to Texas and settled in Rockdale. Gunar established his own automotive repair business and Shirley worked for Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA). As they moved through life’s routines and raised their children, they built a solid foundation around family, church and work.
Since the early 80’s, when Gunar was born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit, he has consistently developed his relationship with the Lord. During a personal retreat, Gunar spent several days in prayer and fasting at the water’s edge of the Brazos River in Texas. Through his time with the Lord, he understood that God had called him to ministry. On his way home from the river, he began to process what the shift to ministry would entail, and he knew he would have to sell his business.
After Gunar’s return, he shared with Shirley what the Lord had revealed to him, and a short time later, he met with a trusted friend and told him of his plans. In agreement that Gunar should sell his business, the two men went and walked Gunar’s business property, praying for buyers to come forward. A few weeks later, three men approached Gunar and offered to buy the property. They paid the exact price the Lord told Gunar to ask, and the shift to full-time ministry began.
Gunar wasted no time moving on what the Lord showed him; his first mission was to start a ministry for the youth in the Rockdale community. For that, he and Shirley needed a building. Gunar visited a local Real Estate agency to see what was available. Within ten minutes of meeting an agent, Gunar had found a building that would meet his needs for a youth center, and on top of that, he had a received a commitment from the realtor for $200 per month in support for the ministry. Rockdale Outreach Center was born.
Soon the Gerthes were hosting between 50 and 80 kids on Saturday nights, sometimes more. The facility was full every weekend, and kids were coming from all over the area. The Gerthes would see many young people come to the Lord every time they gathered.
While this was a fulfilling start into ministry, Gunar began to recognize a greater need. As time went by, he would see the kids who had gotten saved slip back into old habits. Gunar realized that they were making lots of converts, but not many disciples. Gunar changed his approach to reaching the community and set his sights on including the adults. In 1996, the Gerthes founded Grace Vineyard Ministries Inc., and started a church.
As it became evident to Gunar that the people needed to be discipled, He and Shirley came across Andrew on TV. Andrew’s teaching, Spirit, Soul & Body transformed Gunar’s understanding. As they continued to listen and watch Andrew, their desire to know God increased to the point that the Gerthes decided to order CBC’s Correspondence Curriculum. They received the materials and opened an in-church class, where they hosted seven other students as they worked through CBC’s first-year courses.
After celebrating the completion of the first year, the Gerthes felt the need to go further with their studies. Although they wanted to attend CBC-Dallas, ministry obligations, travel time to Dallas and finances stood in their way. As he and Shirley considered what to do, a group of men approached Gunar, out of the blue, and said they were interested in using the Grace Vineyard Ministries’ building for a heavy equipment school. The men explained that they only needed the facility weekdays, and they offered to pay all the building’s utilities on top of their rent. Suddenly, the Gerthes had the provision to go to Dallas. The partnership with the heavy equipment school paid for every penny of the Gerthes time at CBC, tuition, travel and a place to stay during the week in Dallas.
Over the course of their time in Dallas, it became evident that the Lord was calling Gunar and Shirley to ministry in Germany. Nearly identical prophetic words were shared by several unrelated people, acknowledging the work to which God was calling Gunar. Their experience in Germany on their second-year mission trip further solidified their call and bolstered their desire to go. In 2011, after packing second and third year classes into one school year, Gunar and Shirley graduated. When they finished, they were more passionate about the work of the Lord than ever.
As you will see in the video above, the Gerthe’s, now in their seventies, have faced significant challenges on their road to ministry in Germany, but because of their experience and faith in God, they are running the race the Lord has set before them; they are well seasoned, and they are going to make disciples in Birkenfeld. “God is no respecter of age. Age is just a number, and right now, we don’t feel those numbers. We just feel there’s a call and a purpose, and we want to get on with it,” said Shirley with a twinkle.
The video details the amazing story of the Gerthe’s call to rekindle fires in Germany and a documented account of the enemy’s attempt to thwart God’s plan for them. Be sure to watch this faith-building journey to see how our Lord empowered Shirley to save Gunar’s life.