We have experienced a heat wave here in Germany over the past week. Temperatures in the 90’s have never been a problem living in South Carolina, but with no air conditioning it can be a little more unpleasant. When the temperatures hit 96 on Tuesday we decided that soccer on a turf field wasn’t the best idea, so we took the kids we work with in Reinickendorf on an outdoor adventure. It was a neat experience for a group of city kids normally surrounded by concrete buildings and paved streets. One of the blessings of living in a place like Berlin is how quickly you can get into nature if you know where to look.
So we loaded the kids up, picked up a döner (Turkish street food) and headed for the woods. A quick fifteen-minute ride found us on the outskirts of Berlin walking through a meadow to our destination. It is amazing the calming effect that nature has on kids from the city. We soon found our cool spot by a little stream, shaded by giant river oaks. The kids spent the afternoon climbing trees and exploring the creek.
The day wasn’t free from its perils though, after hiking through the creek together we came across a hornets nest. It’s interesting watching a child when they feel they are in danger. Their confident demeanor fades into panic and a call for protection. This was the case with one of our boys named Martens. He’s a tough kid to work with. He is always doing the opposite of what he should be doing and seems to thrive on disobedience. But when the bees started swarming around him and he called for help I instinctively stepped between him and the threat. I got stung, but he was safe from the threat.
As I have thought back over this scenario over the past couple of days it has caused me to think on the mercies of God. I am just like this child, yet God chose to stand in my place and take the sting of death for me. His mercies did not end there, but are new every morning. I know this is true, because God’s mercy has been evident in our lives as we look back on our first year in Berlin. We praise the Lord for His faithfulness, even through the testing, because it has made His will even clearer.
We praise God for you as well. You have stood with us and any gains for the gospel here are on your account. Thank you for making it possible for us to fulfill God’s call on our lives. We have prepared a short video to update you on our progress and give you a picture of where we are going in the next year. God bless you for partnering with us for the gospel in Berlin.
We just finished up three weeks of camps. The first week we ran our first soccer camp in a community in the east of Berlin. Members from our church in Berlin and a church from LA helped us staff the event. They were a tremendous part of the success of the camp. We had children from 6-16 years old from three different refugee camps in the community. A total of 45 kids came throughout the week and the event seems to have opened the door wide to continue working with families from these communities. We also had great feedback from parents who were thrilled we were working with their kids. This is encouraging because we made clear that we were Christians and shared briefly about our faith during the week. We feel this event has created an opportunity for beginning a weekly outreach in the fall outside these local camps where we can share our faith more openly.
The past two weeks we have helped lead a youth camp and a teen camp alongside our church in our community of Zehlendorf. We had 105 kids at our youth camp two weeks ago. 4 children responded to the gospel message we presented on Thursday and we are following up with these children. 1 of our teens that had been helping as a counselor also made a profession of faith and Cherry will be involved in discipling her over the coming months. Cherry and Jeannie were in charge of feeding the workers the first week, as well as feeding all the teens and workers last week. They have done a tremendous job in serving in this way and welcoming children into our church through their hospitality. This was no small feat as they fed 50-60 people each day the first week of camp and close to 100 each day last week at teen camp! I led the staff in developing games and activities for both weeks.
Teen camp finished up last week. We had a total of 60 teens attend the camp. We had a number of teens ask to speak with someone after the gospel was shared on Thursday night. Pray that the gospel would grow in their hearts. It seems a number of the teens attending this week are excited about joining our teen group this fall. We are excited that these events seem to have increased our sphere of influence in our local community and we are praying that the seeds planted this week will give us opportunity to water over the coming months. These camps would not have been possible without some incredible people from Cedarville University and a couple special families from Ohio and Michigan who helped staff the camps and provide the programming. If you would be interested in serving with us in Berlin, send us an email and we would love to make you aware of different opportunities we have to partner with us throughout the year.
After a month full of ministry we are looking forward to stepping back for a couple of weeks before our last camp and the beginning of the school year. We had the opportunity to visit a small mining town this past week for a couple of days and we look forward to visiting Dresden this weekend for Jeannie's birthday. We are looking forward to spending some time together as a family as we are all worn out from the past month. Most of this time will be spent exploring our city and having special nights just as a family. Gracie has been planning her birthday party since January and we plan to make her birthday special with a big party next Saturday:)
We wanted to especially thank all those who gave for our annual transportation passes. We continue to be humbled by your generosity. Many of you that gave have been through very tough things in the past couple of years and your sacrifice for us was an indication of the grace you have received and freely offer to others. We love you all.
- Please pray for the seeds planted in our camps, that we would continue to have opportunities to water these seeds over the coming year.
- Please pray for rest and healing over the coming weeks and strength as we begin a new year of ministry.
- Please pray for our Kindergeld application (Germany child credit) and Cherry's drivers license application. Both have run into some problems and we need wisdom for direction in getting them processed.
- Pray for us as we organize a team arriving in September to help with our church family retreat and provide training on evangelism to the church in Berlin.
- Pray for one of our co-workers Caleb. He is having some problems with securing his resident permit and needs wisdom on the next steps to take.