They had a personal audience with the Pope, John Paul II. Ken was arrested, interrogated and then the family was deported by the Communist Party in Poland for sharing Christ. They invested sixteen years training missionaries, emphasizing cross-cultural evangelism, follow-up, and making disciples. And they have done all of the above and so much more together as a married couple of over 45 years while raising three children. Ken and Chris Frech have committed over 44 years in ministry with a simple goal: to serve and mobilize the Church to live out God’s heart for the poor so all can grow in Christ to build spiritual movements everywhere.
During their college years both Ken and Chris came to a personal relationship with Jesus through people from Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) spending time talking with them. “It changed our values and lives,” reflects Ken. “We wanted to make a difference by helping other people to know Christ, grow in Christ, and then go in Christ (spiritual reproduction).” After working in construction (Ken) and a hospital (Chris) for the first two years of marriage, they both became full-time staff members at Cru in 1975. “Being on staff, we are of the same heart, mind and soul when it comes to serving the Lord, so working together is a blessing,” says Chris.
In 1980, early in their ministry, Cru sent Ken and Chris with their two children (ages 2 and 1) to a summer mission trip in Poland and Italy. They literally smuggled in the first “Jesus” film into Poland. They then assisted training 60 people in Poland to do follow-up from the “Jesus” film outreaches. As a result of the training they unfortunately drew the attention of the Communist police, who promptly arrested them, interrogated and then deported them from Poland. Think they were discouraged? Not at all! After the Poland “experience” they went to Rome where through providential circumstances they had a personal visit with Pope John Paul II and gave him his own copy of the “Jesus” film in Polish, which he gladly accepted.
Besides training missionaries, they have served in campus ministry and are currently the director and associate director of Cru Inner City – Bakersfield. Within the inner city the Frechs see the need for godly leadership – not just friendly leaders or leaders who don’t want to offend or just be politically correct. As Ken explains, “People (leaders and recipients) shouldn’t be content with just offering and receiving physical solutions like food, housing, health care, etc. Sadly, inner city dwellers are seen as the recipient of assistance, not as problem solvers in their communities. Inner city believers are an undeveloped segment of the Body of Christ that could be a huge work force (lay ministers) that could bring about transformation within our communities.”
Over the 44+ years of ministry, the Frechs have seen many changes in our culture overall, especially as it relates to Christianity. Their observations are blunt. “As a culture, Americans today are biblically illiterate. What may have been common knowledge regarding the essentials of the Bible is almost nonexistent. I no longer assume that a person has a biblical understanding of justice, sin, grace, mercy and the historical events surrounding Jesus,” states Ken. He continues, “Today, Christians seem to spend more time listening to music than actually reading their Bibles. Christians are much more knowledgeable about current Christian celebrities than the prophets and leaders mentioned in both Testaments.” A bright spot, Ken noted, is that Christians seem more aware and caring for the poor.
Even with these observations the Frechs remain excited about God’s movement in people’s lives. Chris comments, “Seeing and hearing of lives being changed as someone takes the time to disciple them excites us. Spiritual multiplication excites us. Christians who are growing spiritually and are actively sharing the gospel with nonbelievers excites us. Then to see them follow-up and disciple those who have responded in faith to the gospel is truly wonderful! ”
As members of RiverLakes Community Church (RCC) for many years, the Frechs appreciate the church’s help, both personally and for their ministry. Chris comments, “Our church has always loved us and encouraged us. Our children have been ministered to at RCC. From a ministry perspective, RCC has financially supported us generously through the years and the church body has provided 1,000’s of Boxes of Love. Thank you!” No, thank you Ken and Chris for being faithful servants and disciples of Christ!