Pastor Rich and Rhonda’s Story
We, Pastor Rich and Rhonda Hanssen, have the privilege of ministering to The Refuge church family in Wiesbaden, Germany. We have been very happily married for over 35 years (as of September 2018) and are blessed to have three adult children: Ashleigh, Joshua, and Tori. Ashleigh is married to Jason Naylor and we have three grandchildren by them: Amos Michael – 4 ½ years, Miriam Hope – 2 years, and Lydia Joy – 6 months.
Our Story is a testimony to the faithfulness of God! Since saving us, changing our lives, and restoring our marriage in 1987, He has given us many opportunities to “live by faith.” It is our joy and privilege to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and it is our life’s ambition to live for His pleasure and glory!
In 1998, after serving in the USAF for 16 years, the Lord called Rich to separate from the military and enter full-time pastoral ministry. Leaving the USAF without retirement or benefits, he entered full-time ministry as a children’s pastor with special emphasis on family ministry. After seven years of pastoral ministry, the Lord led us to go to the mission field. Through prayer and wise counsel, the Lord directed us to plant an international church in Vicenza, Italy.
In February 2006 we arrived in Vicenza, Italy and initially focused on praying and fasting (and culture shocking) for specific direction from the Lord. We anticipated waiting about a year before planting a church.
In August 2006, only six months after arriving, we had our first “service” in our small apartment in the city of Vicenza. Soon after (November 2006) we moved to a “new” large home in Gazzo Padovano and “The Refuge” was born! Then in September 2011, we moved into a commercial building which currently remains the home of The Refuge.
In June 2007, through the providence of the Lord, we partnered with the Church of God’s Ministry to the Military (MTTM), bringing us into relationship with others who minister in U.S. military locations throughout Europe.
In January 2011, after 5 years of pastoring “The Refuge Vicenza”, at the request of the MTTM International director and after prayerful consideration, we began pastoring a second church in Aviano, Italy (The Refuge Aviano) where there is a large U.S. Air Force base. We continued pastoring both churches for 5 additional years.
After 10 years in Italy the Lord gave Rhonda a dream in which He gave us clear directions to leave Italy and go to Tanzania, Africa. We left Italy January 2016, spent 6 weeks in America, and arrived in Uhekule Village, Njombe, Tanzania, Africa on March 6, 2016. For 2 ½ years we directed Sunrise Children’s Home where we loved and cared for 21 HIV/AIDS orphans. In August 2018, the Tanzanian Immigration department denied our applications to continue residency, forcing us to leave the country and “our” children. Although our time there was short, it was incredibly fruitful! All of the children and staff accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior!
As we flew out of Tanzania, grieving having to leave “our” children, we knew that we would be going back on the mission field, but we did not know how soon! Just two months later the Lord clearly impressed upon our hearts that we were to partner again with the Ministry to the Military and go to Wiesbaden, Germany.
We arrived in Wiesbaden on January 16, 2019 to “replant” a church that currently has 8 – 10 people attending. We are excited about what the Lord is going to do in this community.
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3
Our desire is to see active duty military, civilians, and the international community experience the life changing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, be discipled into a deep, personal, and vibrant relationship with the Lord, and be empowered and emboldened to go out and reach the lost.