We serve in Poland through seminary teaching, mentoring leaders, and Christian counseling. We work primarily with students at the Evangelical School of Theology, our fellow members at First Baptist Church of Wroclaw, and Christian leaders in Wroclaw and Lower Silesia.
Joel Burnell first came to Poland in 1980 with Campus Crusade for Christ to work with the Oasis renewal movement. In 1983 Joel, who was then in Polish language school, met Renata at a Christian Conference. They were married in 1987. After attending Western Seminary from 1989 to 1993, Joel and Renata returned to Poland to join the faculty at the Evangelical School of Theology of Wroclaw.
In 2007 Joel received his PhD in theology from Open University in England. Joel teaches courses at EST in ethics, systematic theology, and pastoral ministry. He chairs the theology department at EST, serves as the Director of the Jonathan Edwards Center-Poland. He is the editor of the Polish translation of “A Jonathan Edwards Reader”, published in December of 2014 by EST.
Renata earned a masters degree from the University of Wroclaw in biology – genetic engineering (1986), as well as masters degree from Western Seminary in Intercultural Ministry (1992) and Christian Counseling (2012). She is a member of the Wroclaw Chapter of the Polish Association of Christian Psychologists. In addition to her Christian counseling practice, she serves as Student Counselor at EST. She also teaches workshops on Christian counseling and speaks to various groups on personal growth and counseling related issues.
Joel and Renata helped found New Hope Fellowship (Third Baptist Church of Wroclaw), serving in many capacities. Since 2012 they worship at the First Baptist Church of Wroclaw, where Renata is active in leading women’s retreats and support groups, and Joel is part of the teaching team.
As a member of the Polish Section of the International Bonhoeffer Society, Joel helped organize Bonhoeffer Conferences at the Evangelical School of Theology in 2002 and 2005. He served on the local planning committee for the International Bonhoeffer Congress in February 2006 to mark the 100th anniversary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s birth in Wroclaw (then known as Breslau), as well as on the committees for International Bonhoeffer Congresses in Prague (2008), Sigtuna, Sweden (2012), Basel, Switzerland (2016). He has published a book and numerous articles on Bonhoeffer, and edited three volumes of articles dedicated to Bonhoeffer’s life and thought.