Today I marvel that a year has passed since we moved out of our home in South Carolina. This house was a haven for our family for nine years. After my dad passed away, even my mom found comfort here. We brought our baby girls home, celebrated Christmas and birthdays, and ate a lot of tacos. So much love and laughter filled the walls and it was exactly the home I’d hoped to create. My dream was complete. What a precious gift to have had a home and a life we loved so dearly.
As we transitioned to our life in Berlin, I distinctly remember wondering how to make our new apartment, home. I would cringe every time the girls said they “wanted to go home” because I had no idea what home they were referring to. We set out to do the hard work of unpacking and finding a place for everything. During those first months we learned first hand how much home meant to us.
It was in the experience of having had a “home” and now building a new one, that we learned the value of it. We became more aware of our ability to give home to those around us. Whether a refugee friend or a fellow partner in ministry, making others feel welcome, loved, and accepted in our home became an important ministry of our family. Jesus spent much time around a table eating and teaching others. We are learning to do the same. I love to gather around the table, fill our guests physically with food, and pray that the conversation, companionship and encouragement help to fill them spiritually.
“Home is wherever God is, and God is ever with me.”
We are thankful that our God goes before us, with us, and behind us. He provides and gives grace to make a home in a new country.
This past month has been busy with having people in our home, weekly outreach and serving alongside coworkers to encourage families in our community. The more we realize God’s call for our family the more we realize the gospel is best pursued through community. God works in our lives by bringing us into fellowship with other people. If we are living out the gospel we will embrace those that we are reaching. It’s easy to hold those we are trying to reach at arms length, but true outreach calls us to welcome those on the outside with open arms into our homes and communities.
The barriers that make us different melt away when we are sitting around a table together or watching our kids play side by side. These are the moments that allow us to break down tough facades and open conversations to spiritual things. Whether it is encouraging believers or sharing new hope our opportunities are magnified when we bring people together in community.
This is why we continue to work consistently with others in community. We had many opportunities for this this past month with our church. Specifically, we are thankful for how God is working in the lives of our teens. It has been amazing to see how important community is to these teens and how God is bringing them together to encourage each other. We see it as an honor to work with this group of young men and women. Cherry has taken over a Bible study with the teen girls and this has been a tremendous way to connect with and encourage the girls she is working with on a weekly basis. Jeannie and Cherry both also had the opportunity to teach the women’s Bible study this month.
We are also building community in Reinickendorf with our friend Tabea. Tabea has been a tremendous example to us of someone who loves others unconditionally. She gives her life daily to pointing kids to Jesus and we are so thankful to work alongside her. The children we work with here are tough and have many problems, but we pray that they will slowly see Christ through our consistent influence in their lives and the weekly lessons we share with them.
We are also excited about a new opportunity in Steglitz, which is near our home. Through the fall and winter we were able to work in a refugee camp in this area. With changes in this camp over the past couple months many of the families have moved out, but even as this door was shutting God was opening another. A church in our area offered us the use of a gym in a strategic location and we will be starting an outreach into this area on May 12th. We are continuing to pass out flyers in this area and with refugee families in local camps near by. Please pray that God would open this door by drawing families to this opportunity.
We had many people in our home this month and many opportunities to fellowship around our table. Along with the monthly men, women and teen groups we are hosting we also had the opportunity to have a number of individuals. We enjoyed spending time with old friends and new friends that have been instrumental in us realizing our call here in Berlin. We are thankful for those who encourage us through their presence in our lives.
As a family we have really enjoyed the beginning of spring here in Berlin. The city is coming to life again and we have enjoyed getting out and spending time together. Quinn and Gracie were excited to get bikes this month and they have been cruising around the streets like real Berliners. Here are some pictures of our excursions.
- Praise for God opening the door with the use of the gym in Steglitz, pray God would bring us families to work with in this community.
- Pray for a friend I met in language class from Syria. Anas has been in and out of the hospital with problems with his heart. Pray God would give me opportunities to show him the love of Christ.
- Prayer for my friends Ahmed and Abed, that God would continue to work in their lives and that they would be encouraged through our weekly fellowship.
- Prayer for teams coming this summer and for preparations as we plan how to best utilize their talents with our planned outreach this summer.
- Prayer for securing a field for a camp we are working on for refugee children in the North of Berlin.
- Prayer for scheduling teams time wisely while they are here.
- Prayer for our new youth director Caleb as he organizes youth and teen camps for this summer.
- Prayer for those coming to Berlin this summer that God would use this experience to shape their future.