The Ziska Family
About the Ziska Family
Joe and Brenda Ziska are church-planting missionaries, working in Vienna, Austria since 1979. They have two Austrian sons, David (foster) and Daniel (adopted).
The Ziskas were asked by an Austrian denomination (BEG) to lead a pioneer church-planting project in Klosterneuburg. Klosterneuburg is a picturesque, historic town of 25,000 on the northern edge of Vienna. Starting in the 1980s various missionary efforts had been made to start a church there, but were only able to generate small Bible study groups. Although dozens of born-again believers live in the town, at the time the Ziskas started working there, only one home Bible study to served as a nucleus.
Now in Klosterneuburg the Ziskas lead a three home Bible study groups, and are developing a growing network of other contacts. Since Nov. 2006 there also have been monthly worship services in Klosterneuburg. Since Sept. 2010 that has been increased to twice monthly with a current average of ca. 20 attendees. A young Swiss-Austrian has also been added as a part-time helper [10 hours per week] to reach young adults.
In addition Brenda serves on the committee which sponsors an interdenominational, semi-annual women´s breakfast attended by 200-250 in Klosterneuburg. Also we regularly visit a small children´s home bringing parties as well as a witness to the gospel to the children and workers there.
Joe is one of the founders, chairman of the board and head of the curriculum committee of Biblische Ausbildung am Ort (BAO; Biblical Education on Location; www.bao.at), a church-based training program. This program of non-formal courses serves over 1100 participants each year throughout Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
Joe’s is also serving as a catalyst to develop a network of programs, similar to BAO throughout Europe. This in turn is part of the global Church Based Training Network (CBT). In May, 2011 this network (under Joe´s leadership) will be holding its third triennial Symposium for leaders of similar programs throughout Europe.
Joe has also helped found and is one of the professors in the Evangelikale Akademie (EVAK; www.evak.at). Although the EVAK was just founded in 2004, it is the largest Bible school in Austria and has the broadest curriculum offerings. It has ca. 40 part-time students, training to be pastors and Christian leaders. Branch study centers are being developed in Villach and Graz.
A Personal Note from Brenda:
Joe & I met at Cleveland State University at an Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship meeting. We were both interested in missions and went to the Urbana Missions Conference several times. We graduated and got married in July, 1970.
We moved to Minnesota and Joe went to Bethel Seminary. I taught first grade in an inner-city school in St. Paul. During seminary Joe had to do an internship, so we went on a summer mission team to Austria with Greater Europe Mission. We were interested in church planting and wanted to see it first hand.
After Joe graduated, we pastored for 4 years at a Baptist General Conference church in Lake Stevens, Washington. We went on deputation for 1.5 years during which time Calvary Baptist began supporting us. We began working in church planting in Austria for Greater Europe Mission in 1979.
We were unable to have children, but God blessed us with two Austrian babies. In 1984 we got David as a 2-month old foster son. In 1985 Daniel at 14-days-old joined our family. David was never given up for adoption, but has remained in our family his whole life. After one year of being in our family we were allowed to adopt Daniel. At ages 25 & 26 both David and Daniel still live with us in our home in Vienna.
Joe & Brenda Ziska are receiving partial financial support from Parkside.