Rick and Denise met when they were each on an individual quest to wholeheartedly follow God’s plan for their lives. Rick was a college student, studying Journalism and Greek while also growing in his teaching ministry. Denise was a talented vocalist but chose not to pursue a career performing with the Metropolitan Opera. Instead, she pursued a relationship with Rick to fulfill her heart’s desire and enter into full-time ministry. God told her, “You will sing for Me.”
Rick and Denise’s friendship has led to a lifelong love and a powerful partnership in building the Kingdom of God. After a decade of ministry, first as pastors and then as itinerant ministers, Rick and Denise Renner embarked on an adventure of a lifetime. In January 1992, the Renners and their sons — Paul (then 8), Philip (then 6), and Joel (then 2) — left behind all they knew in the United States to relocate their family to Latvia to serve the region that only weeks earlier had become the former Soviet Union.
Rick and Denise remember kneeling together as a family and kissing the pavement when they arrived at the airport in Riga, Latvia, on that cold January day. In that moment, they all committed their lives to the will of God and to the people of their new homeland. The following year, Rick moved forward to launch and establish the first of its kind — and eventually the largest — Christian television network in that region of the world.
Over the years, Rick and Denise pioneered three churches, a Bible school, and a ministerial association that serves thousands of Russian-speaking pastors throughout the former USSR as well as parts of the Middle East. As Rick began training and mentoring leaders in the early days, Denise also developed a women’s ministry that is today actively involved in changing the lives of women and their families. Specifically, they minister to the needs of orphans, women prisoners, the homeless, and those with drug and alcohol addictions.
Rick, Denise, and their sons began as a small circle of five, willing to go beyond their comfort zone to reach the uttermost parts of the world. Today that circle includes their sons’ Russian wives, eight grandchildren, and a large ministry staff who help the Renners extend their reach as they exalt Jesus Christ as the Hope of all nations.
More About Rick and Denise
Does Rick preach in English when he ministers in Russia?
Yes. Although Rick is considered fluent in the Russian language, he is still assisted by an interpreter when he ministers at the Moscow Good News Church and anywhere in the Russian-speaking world. Conversational Russian at the level required to teach in-depth is very complicated, so Rick has chosen to stay with a high-level interpreter — although in the normal course of life, his Russian skills are more than adequate, and he needs no interpreter.
Is it dangerous to live and minister in Russia?
No. There is no persecution and preaching the Gospel is accepted. Rick, Denise, and their church are very well and continue to grow. Rick often reminds our Tulsa staff not to pay attention to what our news says about Russia. It is inaccurate most of the time. Here is what he stated in a recent article: “Don’t believe what you hear about Russia…Russia is doing well and the Church is getting strong.”
When did Denise learn to sing?
Denise is a Mezzo Soprano and began her vocal training when she was 15 years old, singing in her local church choir. Her formal training began at Oklahoma Baptist University, and she later studied at University of Oklahoma, where she earned her degree in Music Performance. After moving to the former USSR, Denise also studied at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music (VLMA), formerly Riga Conservatory, under Gunta Studa and briefly in Moscow with the renowned Galina Kuznetsova, one of the top singers at the Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre and the Novaya Opera Theatre.
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