Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory. It was this month two years ago that our family embarked on a journey to a destination that was largely unknown. Through this time we have experienced many highs and many lows, particularly over the last 5 months. But as we approach our first 6 months of ministry here in Berlin, these words resound in my heart.
We celebrated Thanksgiving this week and my heart is full of gratitude for the grace God has bestowed on my family. He has led us through unchartered waters and looking back at the obstacles we have faced, I am once again reminded that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. So as we celebrate our first Thanksgiving in a new country and look at the costs of following this call, I can say thank you Jesus for paying the greatest price and thank you Father for the great things you have done.
Whether we are in a season of plenty or a season of drought may our hearts be marked by a spirit of Thanksgiving for the great things God has done, is doing, and will do. Regardless of our current circumstances He is always faithful. He will not let us go and one day we will praise Him forever for the things He has done: for both the good things and even the bad things He has brought into our lives. Through the ups and downs in life we learn to praise Him because when everything else fails, He remains faithful.
For those of you reading this update, I pause to say thank you. God has used you to create a good work in our family and we are forever grateful. As our call becomes clearer we remember your work on our behalf. Thank you for coming alongside us to reach the nations here in Berlin.
Our work continues alongside our church family in the Goerzallee refugee camp this month. We normally have between 20-40 children on a given week. With the weather turning colder and the days getting darker we have seen a decrease in numbers toward the lower end of this range. But we are slowly seeing progress with breaking down these children’s tough exteriors and creating opportunities to build relationships with their families. This is a long process, but we a praying our consistent presence provides opportunities for deeper relationships that can point these families to the only real hope. Many of these families are in crisis. Their hopes of beginning a new life have faded into a meager existence in very poor living conditions. This pressure on families has caused many to break apart.
We have seen this first hand with a family from another area of the city. The father left three weeks ago to return to Syria with all the family’s money, leaving behind his wife and seven children. Our hope is to come alongside this family and other families like this and encourage them toward the gospel.
God is opening the door for this. As we continue to encounter refugees, the one thing that always becomes realized is their desire for community. It is tough to flourish without community. Just like us the people we encounter want to belong in their new place. So we will continue to invite new friends into our life.
Friends like Bashar, a young man from Syria who desperately misses his family. Men like Anas, from my language class that I haven’t mustered the courage to ask him his story and why just him and his mother escaped his besieged city, because I can see his past pain reflected on his face. I see other Arab brothers in Christ that God has placed in my path that yearn for friendship, but feel like outcasts because they have embraced the life-giving Christ to the cost of losing their own families and friends. Through all this I see why the Spirit has led our family far from home to this new place. As much as we miss our old community, God is building a new community here in this city. We praise Him for putting us here to come alongside others and encourage them toward life and peace that can only be found in Christ.
God has placed Cherry and Jeannie in a special place both in our church and at the girl’s school to build relationships with other women. They have been a tremendous encouragement to me in how they have reached out to others and how God has equipped them to encourage others to live out the gospel. Please pray that some of the mothers that they have developed friendships with through the girls classes would be attracted to the gospel.
As we have stepped into a new place ourselves for the first time we praise the Lord for the community He has led us to. New friends have quickly become family and we could not have found a group of believers more like-minded in their pursuit of Christ. They encourage us daily to walk in the Spirit and we are humbled to serve alongside them. We see footholds for the gospel springing up in Berlin. Different communities of believers pursuing the same thing: to reach the nations with the good news. Pray that the gospel will continue to gain ground in this cold land.
We have much to be thankful for this month. We were able to secure a two-year visa on our first try this past week. This was a huge blessing because many times you have to return and provide further documents to complete this process. We also celebrated Quinn’s birthday! We are excited to see that the girls seem to be much happier with their new surroundings and have both been able to develop some friendships at school. I was able to complete my second language class this week and I am on track to finish language school by March. Finally, we were able to spend Thanksgiving this week with our family here. It was such a blessing being so far from home on our first Thanksgiving away.
Our vehicle is still in the shop as we had a problem with the headlights passing inspection again, but we are praising the Lord that we are getting close to having a vehicle. We cannot thank all of you enough who gave to help us complete the modifications! If you would still like to help with the costs for registering and insuring the vehicle, that would be a tremendous help. Here is a link below to our giving page if you would like to give to that project.
We pray that you find joy in this season and remember all we have to be thankful for as sons and daughters of the King!
- Pray God would provide our car in His perfect timing.
- Pray for our upcoming Christmas party in Goerzallee and the opportunity we have to share the Christmas Story.
- Pray our family would be able to continue to build redemptive relationships with those God has put in our path and that we would encourage other believers toward the gospel.
- Pray for the children we are working with each week. Abraham, Daniel, Luka, Jonah, Kevin and many others that need someone to love them and point them to the gospel.
- Pray for strength and protection for us and those we work with as we seek to point others to Christ.
- Pray for us as we look forward to visiting family and updating our ministry partners on our progress and plans for establishing ministry in the new year.