THE RHEMA CAFE: HELPING OUR MILITARY
Sep 17, 2020
By The Rev. Timothy P. Carentz Sr., MDiv, DMin
Rhema Café successfully cares for our Nation’s warriors at the largest military community outside the U.S.—Kaiserslautern, Germany. God continues to co-labor alongside us and remains glorified in this place; souls are saved daily—Hallelujah!
Raised in Queens and Nassau Counties, and nephew of Ronald and Deacon Intern Susan Carentz, I enlisted into the U.S. Air Force, at the age of seventeen in 1994. During my twenty-four year career, I served as a respiratory therapist on the Critical Care Air Transport Team, was a first responder to the Pentagon on 9/11, evacuated/cared for 25,000 critically wounded warriors at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany, battled severe PTSD accompanied with family brokenness, rebounded, achieved the top enlisted rank of Chief Master Sergeant (E-9), and retired in 2018 as a wounded warrior. Following retirement, I returned to LRMC as an Army Civilian (GS-12) to manage patient safety in hospitals/clinics across Europe. As an ordained bi-vocational missionary, I also opened and direct a non-profit church café called Rhema Café: Kaiserslautern Military Resiliency Center with an extensive emphasis on resiliency and invisible wounds of war. This calling mirrors Apostle Paul’s teaching that God comforts us so that we may comfort others (2 Cor 1).
Rhema Café is an ecumenical ministry staffed with four pastors along with ministry leaders from fifteen churches (nine denominations) and currently partners with thirty-two German/American churches and twenty-seven helping organizations to comfort the suffering. Ministry includes biblical/holistic approaches to assist individuals in confronting and alleviating symptoms associated with invisible wounds: shame, guilt, grief, condemnation, depression, anger, and anxiety disorders such as posttraumatic stress. Rhema offers pastoral counseling, five to ten peer-led support-groups per day, daily events such as art/dancing, weekly outreach (shelters, orphanages, brothels, food/clothing distribution, etc.), social worker internships (via three universities), seminary classes (via three seminaries), daily prayer/praise/worship, and so much more. Rhema Café also provides an ambiance of soothing Christian music, aroma, and pet therapy. Further, our café is also utilized by four small churches for their weekly services.
Rhema exists to walk with military families through life’s biggest challenges:
- Isolation… to Community
- Insignificance… to Fulfilled Purpose
- Deep Loss… to Hope
- Fear … to Peace
- Family Brokenness… to Family Health
- Moral Injury… to Confident Consolation
- Hardship of Separation… to Strength in the Journey
- Financial Difficulty… to Freedom
- Lack of Identity… to Acceptance of Purpose
- Post-Traumatic Stress… to Significant Daily Contentment
- Deployment… to Reintegration
- Helplessness… to Supporting
Since opening on 1 June 2019, Rhema averaged 3,000 evangelistic encounters per month and hosted over 4,050 events, 5,475 Christian counseling sessions, 1,825 support groups, and trained 3,000 service members. We also responded to rape survivors, major accidents, suicides, and established a food-delivery chain for those quarantined during COVID. Further, we halted 354 suicides, assisted/assisting 99 women out of forced prostitution, and meet with our pastor/chaplain network monthly to facilitate our “Caring for the Caregiver” workshops. Moreover, Rhema is the hub for Samaritan Purse’s “Operation Christmas Child” to send the love of Christ to over 1,000 children in need across Eastern Europe.
Rhema café provides a confidential disguise for everyone to come forward for free/confidential services. Unfortunately, the military is plagued with invisible wounds with rocketing suicide rates. Despite a plethora of military-sponsored helping services, members remain hesitant to seeking official help via military channels for several reasons: fear of negative entries in medical records, command involvement, unfavorable impact on career, etc. In the States, members can seek care outside of military channels, however, in Germany there are several barriers such as cost and language. Rhema eliminates these perceptions. Everyone who enters our non-traditional church is treated with respect, greeted by a pastor, offered free resources (e.g., counseling, groups, literature, etc.), and can enjoy Europe’s best coffee—Schärf.
Lastly, our efforts multiplied into a “Café Rhema Poland” and two “Light House” ministries tailored for our local Russian community. Rhema also garnered national attention and published in Germany’s Christian magazine PRO.
Click HERE for the in-depth article in German.
Please reference the following sites to learn more about us and our resources: military (TWJ.org), civilian (JourneyOnline.org), ministry (Network211.com), and Rhema Café (TheKMRC.com).
Please connect with us on Facebook: Rhema Café: Kaiserslautern Military Resiliency Center