After a restless 9.5-hour flight from Houston to London, I was ready. With a stamp-less passport in hand, I couldn’t wait to step foot on ground across the pond for the first time.
Our first night in Berlin was the perfect kickoff. People from countries all over the world met in a home to have a meal and hear stories about how Jesus had changed their lives. The gospel spoken in different languages echoed across the house, and it felt like a snapshot of the Revelation 7 throne room.
The first full day consisted of some very “touristy” sightseeing mixed with prayer-walking. Our long-term team tour guide combined the history of the city with statistics about the spiritual health of its people. We came to realize that most of the people with whom we brushed shoulders had most likely never had anyone intercede for them. In such a dark, hurting city, Jesus is the only relief.
Day two began more of a normal rhythm for our team. We would meet each morning for the next five days with the long-term team in Berlin for training, prayer, and worship. After leaving their home, we had to struggle through navigating the German public transit system to reach the parks, restaurants, and homes where we would be engaging Berliners across the city. This was the first major stretch for our team.
We had all the head knowledge, but actually approaching a complete stranger and directing a conversation toward the gospel proved to be more uncomfortable than most anything any of us had ever done. When your first question is, “Do you speak English?” you never know what will happen next.
A few hours into the day, I met a man from Gambia, a small country on the coast of northwest Africa. He admitted to me that he felt lonely in Berlin, and was trying to find ways to cope with his problems. I got to share with him that the things of this world will always run out, but God will never leave him nor forsake him. I gave him a Bible to read for the first time, and we connected on Facebook to keep up.
Would you pray for my friend now that God would reveal his love to him through the Word?
Over the next two days, some of my team and I had the opportunity to meet with a man I’ll call ‘Z’ for this post. Z left Syria a few years ago as a refugee when his home became unsafe. He traveled all the way up through Eastern Europe with a woman and her two young daughters that he met along the way. Z sacrificed his time, money, energy, and safety to care for these strangers on his way to Berlin. He was one of the most respectable men I have ever met.
He had tons of heavy questions about the Bible the first time we met with him in his home.
“Has the Bible been corrupted? It has been translated so many times. If God is loving then why do innocent children in Africa starve? Why does religion start so many wars?”
We answered all of his questions to the best of our ability, but had to admit to him that, at some point, our answers would not be enough. He ended our time with him by describing to us a dream he’d had 14 years earlier of a man dressed in all white. He knew this man was Jesus, and we knew we had to meet with him again.
The next day, four Texans, a Palestinian, and a Syrian met in an Indian restaurant in Germany to talk about Jesus (I promise this isn’t the first line of a joke). Our translator took this time to lay out the gospel from Adam and Eve to the resurrection of Jesus. He did his best to put all the pieces together for Z. His dream, the favor on his trip to Berlin, and the gospel all weaved a perfect picture of Jesus coming after his lost sheep. Z told us that he would continue reading the Bible and searching for truth. I believe that Jesus is going to make Z a fisher of men.
Would you pray for Z right now, that he would trust Jesus with his life and share the good news with his friends who have never heard it?
Something that stuck out to me about the trip was the overwhelming hospitality and kindness of the refugees. Many of them were willing to sit and talk, share their stories, and eat meals with us. One man that I met shared his experience with war in his Syrian hometown. He proceeded to show me the scar on his back from a bomb that decimated his home. He was just getting by in Berlin. Later in our conversation, I told him I liked his jacket. He immediately took it off and said, “I give it to you.”
Would it change the way people view Christ if we showed others the same generosity this Muslim man showed me?
Later in the week, we got to meet with more people from all over Europe and the Middle East at different events we held throughout Berlin, sharing the gospel with everyone that we could.
Each morning, as we debriefed the previous day, many of us admitted that we “just prayed” all day. One of our leaders pointed out our flaw immediately.
What a small view of prayer we had! Even if the only thing we had done in Berlin was pray, it would have been worth the trip. The eternal God, creator of the universe, heard every one of our prayers that week. “Just pray” (or “einfach beten”) became our mantra for the rest of the week.
One thing that has stayed with me is a quote that I read in the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
“What is my life worth even if I remain alive? Whom to return to in my old home town of Warsaw? For what and for whom do I carry on this whole pursuit of life, enduring, holding out — for what?”
It reminds me of a question Z asked us. “Why do people stay on earth when they become Christians?”
What is our purpose? Why are we here?
It’s all for the glory of Jesus. Would we be conformed to his likeness, would people see our good deeds and praise our Father in Heaven, and would we make disciples of all nations. Would the worship of God cover the face of earth.