We were able to take a short trip to Paris for our summer vacation a couple of weeks ago. It was a whirlwind trip trying to pack as much as we could into the three days we were there. It’s hard to scratch the surface of the history and culture of a place like Paris in three days. It’s a beautiful city and a city that has defined our world in so many ways.
Paris is known as the city of lights, a city that has seemingly enlightened our world to new trends and ideas. It is a city that is the envy of our world; no expense was spared to create this city of luxury and indulgence. The excellence of man’s achievements are celebrated everywhere you look and nowhere is this more on display than the Palace of Versailles. It was here that the Sun King Louis XIV set himself up to be the perfect man. A man that everyone in the known world looked to as the epitome of what a man should be. People believed that as the sun shown brilliantly from its rising to its setting, so did the Sun King.
But as we know his glory was short-lived, the opulence and splendor that he enjoyed was paid for by those he subjected to himself. In the end he turned out to be not as perfect as everyone thought. The culmination of this was the revolution of French society, which abolished the monarchy and set up reason as the new god. But the greatest lesson I learned from our time in Paris was that regardless of the period, France’s history is defined by its desire to see man as the center of the universe.
This is what we are confronted with as we look back at the stories of our nations. Flawed, imperfect men desperately trying to reach perfection through their own means. Our ideas of government, society, and religion all point to how we think we can achieve our own salvation. Unfortunately, they also point to the fact that we will always fail to achieve perfection on our own. This is why God’s story for the nations is so different from any other story
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
John 15:5 ESV
God’s story has revealed the perfect Man that we so desperately want to be. The only way we can win a world that is desperately trying to glorify itself is to bear fruit for the purpose of glorifying our Savior. So as a branch cannot live and bear fruit outside of its root, we root ourselves in Christ. We allow Him to make us strong by holding fast to Him as He is holding onto us so that others do not glimpse our own glory, but the glory of the risen Son. The Son King who brings justice and peace and whose kingdom will never fail.
This month we wrapped up several ministries for the summer. Cherry had been praying with our two senior girls at their weekly Bible study concerning graduation and for God to give them direction in future plans. He graciously answered these requests and we are excited to see God's faithfulness in their lives.
Rooted in the local church
We finished our last teen event for this school year. This event brought together our teens and pre-teens and gave those leaving our teen group the opportunity to welcome new members into our teen group. It was exciting to see relationships being built and our older youth serving the younger. Quinn and Gracie have become close with our teens through being involved with this years events and we are thankful for the opportunity our church has given them to be ‘little members’. They are learning to serve others and see models of godly young men and women and we are grateful. We recently had a young man come to Christ in our teens group and we look forward to the coming year and the opportunities we have to disciple within this aspect of ministry.
Mobilizing in weekly outreach
Our soccer outreach ministry continues in Reinickendorf and Pankow. Chad has been leading the training in German and continues to make strides in language. We have upcoming camps in both these communities over the summer break. Pray for opportunities to have deeper redemptive conversations in Reinickendorf during our upcoming camp. Next week we will have a camp in Pankow that we hope to use as a bridge event out of the local refugee camp. We have found that it is much easier to share the gospel if we are just outside the camps and we will use this camp as a gateway to hopefully starting a weekly outreach based in discipleship in the fall. Praise the Lord that we just received word this week that the Goerzalle camp in our local community that we worked in last fall and winter has invited us back into the camp after it seemed that door had closed. We are praying about opportunities to begin an after school program in this community similar to the other communities we are working in that would give us a weekly opportunity to share the gospel.
We also have two weeks of camp coming up this month that we hope to use to draw new families into our local church. Our English-speaking day camp and teen week were the first thing we experienced when we arrived last summer and we are excited to see how these events kicked off a year of growth in our youth ministries. We have seen that reaching our community through children many times leads to whole families connecting with our church. We are thankful for those we work alongside and how the leadership of our community has allowed us to work within the church and create a natural outflow that reaches our community. Specifically pray for our coworkers; the Dye family, Martin Schmill, Caleb Curtis and the Martens family. We praise the Lord daily for those he has put around us and to work alongside to reach this city.
We were thankful to get away for a couple of days and visit Paris this past month for Cherry’s birthday. We are blessed to live in a place that allows us to do this and we were able to see some things that were life-long dreams for Jeannie and the girls.:)
Visitors have blessed us this month as well! Our family greatly enjoyed a visit from the Kaspereks from our home church. We had a wonderful time touring around Berlin and doing family friendly things like picnicking by the Palaces of Potsdam and going to the Zoo. Their family was such a blessing to us and we are grateful for great friends that remind us of those who love us from afar. We also had the opportunity to have Terry, Rachel, and David Ritschards with us for a couple days. Their experiences in reaching the people of Papua New Guinea strengthened our resolve to continue sharing Christ regardless of circumstances. Chad also had the opportunity to attend our church's men's advance. Our speaker Mark Fox from Burlington, NC challenged us to be the fathers God has created us to be. God used Mark to remind us of why we are here, which is to encourage other families to pursue God in this city.
Finally, we had a chance to take a breath over the July 4th holiday and celebrate with friends. We are so thankful for the people God has put around us and the emotions of celebrating our first 4th of July abroad were made easier by being with our closest friends. We even had the opportunity to celebrate with some of our German friends from one of our supporting churches on the 5th and are thankful for their willingness to bring us some boxes on their container in their recent move back to Germany.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We are so thankful for all those who partner with us monthly to reach the city of Berlin. I wanted to make you aware of an expense that we have coming up this month with our yearly transportation passes. By purchasing our city passes yearly we save $250 and feel this is the most cost efficient way of getting around the city. This allows us to preserve the life of our van and use it for mainly ministry-related transportation. The total cost for our passes is $1,776 for the year for our family (evidently it is a very patriotic expense). If you are looking for an opportunity to give, we would greatly appreciate any gift to help us make wise use of the resources available here in Berlin. You can give a one-time gift at the link below if you would like to help.
- Please pray for my parents. My dad is still recovering from his heart surgery and my mom recently fell and broke her arm. We miss them and it is hard to be away and not be able to help.
- Please pray for our upcoming camps. For gospel seed to be planted and that we would gain ground to continue watering into next year through open doors created this summer.
- Please pray for us as we make plans to balance life, ministry and language with the new school year.
- Please pray for strength with our responsibilities at church, within different communities, and even our responsibility to be good residents here in Germany.