Regent Alum René Breuel Serving as Urbana Expositor
At every Urbana conference—the once-every-three-years InterVarsity student missions gathering—a pastor or scholar is selected to exposit a biblical text. For 2018, Urbana has appointed Regent alumnus René Breuel (MDiv 2009) to lead thousands of attendees through the book of Revelation.
Breuel is currently the pastor of an evangelical church in Rome, Italy. He is married to Sarah (MDiv 2009), a Regent alumna and his partner in ministry. They have two boys.
In this short interview, hear René tell his story. Find out how on stage at Urbana he plans to have Darrell Johnson speaking over his shoulder.
Tell me a bit about your time here at Regent.
My wife Sarah and I were at Regent from 2006 to 2009. We loved it. Our season at Regent was so formative for us. We had just gotten married when we started our studies, so it was kind of our newlywed phase.
I took a lot of classes with Darrell Johnson and Rikk Watts in New Testament, Iain Provan, John Stackhouse, Hans Boersma, among others. They were big theological and personal influences for me.
I also worked at the Regent Bookstore, which was a delight. Just being among the books, right?
What have you been doing since then?
Sarah and I moved to Rome in 2010. It was kind of a dream I had over the years, which matured in my time at Regent: to start a new church and do that here in Rome. Growing up in Brazil, we saw how churches were growing and reaching people there, so we thought we could be of use someplace else.
We arrived here in 2010, and took a year and a half to study the culture, get to know people, and partner with existing churches. Four of these churches became our supporting, mother churches here in Rome—two Pentecostal churches, one Baptist, and one Reformed.
That’s very Regent, the trans-denominational thing.
Yes, very much. We receive so much good input from so many people.
Why Rome? What’s the appeal of the city for you?
I grew up in Sao Paolo, which is a very large city in Brazil. I have always believed that these global cities are very strategic. Rome is one of the most influential cities in the world when it comes to religion and Christianity. But it has very little evangelical presence.
My wife, Sarah, was working with InterVarsity at the time, and they were looking for a staff worker here in Rome. [That specific need made us] think concretely about coming here as well.
What have been some of the high points of your work over
the last few years?
The high point for me is seeing people get to know God. By now, about 40% of our church is made of new believers—people who came to faith in the past few years. It’s just so exciting to see. Each of them is a unique story. There are many young people and some of their parents, brought by their sons and daughters who come to faith. There is also a group of artists started by a couple who came to Christ and who started to invite their friends, now 15 or 20 of them.
Another highlight has been helping other churches get born. We started Hopera with a vision of being a church which helped other churches start as well. We planted a daughter church in Perugia, a city two hours away, a few years ago. And now we’re planting a second daughter church in Rome, across town. We’re very excited to see that taking place.
That’s great! And I hear you’re going to be the main expositor at Urbana this year.
I look forward to it. When I went to Urbana ’06 as a student, the expositor was Ajith Fernando. It was such a powerful experience.
This time Urbana will explore the book of Revelation. I received a lot on Revelation at Regent from Darrell Johnson, who was very passionate about the book. As I’m writing the expositions, it feels like he is speaking over my shoulder [laughter].
I’m incorporating what I learned at Regent—the big passion for Jesus, the focus on Jesus, and how it is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It’s not the revelation of the antichrist; I used to read the book like that. It is good news focusing on Jesus. The Lamb sits on the throne.
What are you most excited about as you go back to Urbana as a teacher rather than a student?
I think it’s what God can do with a new generation of students. We were there 12 years ago, which wasn’t long ago. But God has done a number of things in this time period with our friends who came there together: a friend has planted a church in Belgium, another a church in Virginia, others do beautiful work in various vocations in Vancouver and around the world.
It is so nice to see what God has done in even this short amount of time. It makes me dream about what he will do with a new generation of students.