We were able to visit the home of one of my heroes this past week. While Berlin is the home of many men the world would like to forget, it is also home of many extraordinary individuals. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of these, a man who stood his ground in the face of tyranny and evil. His life is remembered well here because of his work in the resistance throughout the rise and fall of the National Socialist Party, but those of us that know the God he knew are motivated by the life of Bonhoeffer for another reason.
Bonhoeffer wrote about this reason in his most well known book. We know it in English as The Cost of Discipleship, but in German it is simply Nachfolge or follow after. This was the desire of Bonhoeffer’s life, to simply follow after Christ. While others of his generation were deceived into following a man who offered them a way out of their toil and suffering, Bonhoeffer followed after a man who embraced suffering to give us an example of perfect love.
He understood that the key to living an extraordinary life was being willing to live an ordinary life. Bonhoeffer was content to follow Christ through the ordinary. This meant that the majority of his life was lived out quietly and consistently being obedient to God’s call on his life. This was a life that invested in others in a way that encouraged them to daily follow after Christ. Bonhoeffer’s contentment to follow Christ by living a seemingly ordinary life, also gave him contentment to embrace the path God had chosen for him even though this meant the loss of his own life.
So perhaps the key to living an extraordinary life starts with consistently looking to Christ in ordinary things. This means we will take opportunities to love others even when they do not love us back. We will serve others even though they do not seem to be grateful. The people we encounter daily will see Christ working through us in ordinary things. They will see us faithfully following Christ in our every day lives. Maybe this means our children will see us leading them toward the gospel around the dinner table or perhaps our neighbors will notice our kindness and patience when they wrong us. The love of Christ freely gives and asks nothing in return. It encourages those we are investing in to look to Christ.
Maybe the best way to learn to be extraordinary is by consistently being ordinary. This was Christ's example; he chose to become ordinary, so that we could be the recipients of something extraordinary. May our passion be to look to the Son so that others will understand God's will and believe.
For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
Living consistently in the everyday routine God has placed us in is a challenge for us as well. Regardless of where God’s call takes us the challenge to consistently work toward investing in others' lives does not get any easier. For us it can be easy to allow fatigue or very cold weather (We’re from the South Ya’ll) to be a deterrent to reaching out to others. Especially when you wonder if your efforts are hitting their marks. It’s easy to get discouraged when you daily share with children (especially your own children) the love Christ has for them and it seems to fall on deaf ears. So Bonhoeffer’s example has been encouraging for us to continue to show up and do ordinary things.
We continue to do this in Reinickendorf with our group of boys (and two girls!). We continue to play soccer with them every week, show them love by feeding them, and most importantly by sharing God’s love for them through His Word. The boys are excited about a soccer tournament we registered them for on March 10th. We are going to get uniforms for them today! We also continue to show up at the Goerzallee Refugee Camp alongside our church family. We are facing some challenges in this outreach at this time. We have been working here since September and our plan this week was to begin to be more intentional with sharing the Story and how we fit into this. Unfortunately, the management of the camp decided this week that they did not see the purpose of us working with the children and would need to assess whether we could continue. It is no coincidence that this happened. We know that there is a battle going on for the hearts of these children. We would appreciate you joining us in prayer that we would be able to continue sharing real hope with them.
Cherry and I had the opportunity to talk with our teens on a couple of occasions this month. We are so thankful for God’s direction into this ministry of our church. He has given us tremendous opportunities to disciple the young men and women in our community through this avenue. Cherry and Jeannie continue to take opportunities to welcome others into our home and show people love and fellowship through food. They have done this consistently over the past month by welcoming people around our table, preparing food for the refugee children we work with each week and taking meals to families in need. They continually pour themselves out for others (including me!) and remind me of what it looks like to consistently love in the ordinary.
We are beginning to plan our camps for the summer. Our goal with these events is to use them as a bridge into weekly ministry into the fall and to develop deeper relationships with the families we are currently working with on a weekly basis. Please pray for us as we make decisions on where to spend our time and efforts for this summer.
The girls had winter break at the beginning of February and we were able to take a couple day trips out of the city and spend time with them during this week. The girls were excited to go to Tropical Island, a giant water park inside a zeppelin hangar located just outside Berlin. They also enjoyed visiting a small children’s amusement park where they got to pet animals, watch candy makers, and play on slides and swings. It can be hard to be a kid in a big city so we were thankful to have the opportunity to let the girls experience these things! We also had a great visit with friends this past month. Cherry’s best friend and her husband visited us and we had a great time showing them around Berlin. They were a great encouragement to us in probably the coldest part of our winter here so far. Thank you for all of those who prayed for my dad this past month. He continues to make progress in his recovery from open heart bypass surgery. We are thankful for God's grace in bringing him through this surgery.
Praise and Prayer
- Praise for special days with family and friends this month.
- Praise for continued healing for my Father after surgery.
- Prayer for wisdom and God's leading in our local Goerzallee ministry with the problems we are having with their leadership staff.
- Prayer for continue growth of our weekly ministries. Specifically for opportunities to be intentional in sharing the gospel with the families we encounter.
- Prayer for wisdom and direction for planning our upcoming summer camps and youth ministry alongside our church.