Dear brothers and sisters, co-heirs of the grace of life through Christ,
It is my honor and joy to share the things God has been doing in these days. Thank you for all your prayers, interest, and caring. “And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house…” Deut. 26:11 God has given us much reason to rejoice because of the gifts he has given both to our house as a family and also to the local church as house of the living God.
Personal and Family:
Our son Jonathan Eleasar was born on the 11th of October. Martin Luther once said: “With every little child you meet, you catch God in the act." We are so grateful for this gift of God and how God has helped to welcome this new person and life into our family. Our two daughters are fully in love with Jonathan, whom they already called “fellow” before he was born and got a proper name. Dominique, my wife, is doing fine and we received lots of help from family (though living further away) and from the church, who cared with warm meals and loving deeds. Now I remember the holiness of changing diapers, as Luther put so wisely: “What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, 0 God, because I am certain that thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother.”
Spiritual Life of Missionary:
Spiritually, I experienced up´s and down´s, so to say. With all the joy a new child brings into a home, it turns all routine and structure upside down. And without a healthy structure the spiritual disciplines are the things that are hardest to maintain appropriately. Nevertheless, in God´s wisdom I have been greatly encouraged in the faith through the word. Especially that verse in Deuteronomy 26, where the Israelite was exhorted to express his thankfulness for the goods the Lord had given to him.
When he came to offer his first fruits, it was a constant reminder to seek the face of the Lord and see His mighty hands in all the good He has provided. Also, the HeartCry Conference was a great blessing. The teachings were very convicting, humbling, encouraging and uplifting. The fellowship with the other missionaries brought about a deep joy about God´s work in Europe. What a wonderful thing to witness God´s spreading of the kingdom in this vast old spiritual wasteland called Europe, that seeks glory in vanity. I can´t express how good it is to see beyond one´s own nose and rejoice in the planting and building of faithful churches where a pure gospel is preaching for the glory of God and the good of men.
In the church, we are thankful for new guests in our midst. An Iranian couple with one little child attended a recent service. They are former Muslims who came to faith in Iran a couple of months ago. They decided to flee because of the Islamic oppression. They moved some weeks ago from further away into the area and got in contact with the church through a church member who attended the same German language class. When I visited them, they expressed their deep longing to understand the Bible better. Their testimony is very moving, especially how they started to pray to Jesus in hostile circumstances and experienced God´s gracious help and protection. They complained about the short services which lasted only thirty minutes in the Lutheran church they attended for a while, and they seek to learn and live as disciples of Jesus. Please pray for that family.
On the plane back from the HeartCry Conference in Spain I sat next to a 62 year old man. With some broken Spanish I asked him why he was flying to Germany. He told me that his brother was severely sick and might die soon. I inquired what would happen to his brother if he died. He replied that he would go into the earth, but he could not answer where the soul would go. So, we talked nearly the complete 2.5 hours of the flight. We talked about death and life, about sin and forgiveness. He considered himself a Muslim, so we talked about how to get into Paradise. When he explained that the good deeds must outnumber the evil deeds, I reminded him on the number of sins Adam and Eve had done and were cast out. It was the first time he had heard about Christ’s sacrifice as a substitution, so I told him, we can only enter Paradise on Jesus’ back. At the end I asked for his name, which was Abel. When I explained to him that the meaning of his name was “breath / vanity” and that Abel in the Bible was the first man to die, he was perplexed. After the whole conversation he repeatedly emphasized that it must have been God´s providence that we spoke about these heavy things and that he feels like his whole attitude changed from grief and sorrow to relief. He hugged and kissed me to say goodbye and called me a friend. Please pray for Abel. I don´t want to be merely his friend, I wish he will become my brother. May the closeness of death, the vanity of human efforts and the testimony of Christ´s penal substitution on the cross be the gracious means in God´s wise providence.
But next to those joyful and encouraging contacts, there have also been some situations, that have caused much pain. Especially the development of a small group that we are in contact with, who gather together to study the Bible and would like to see a church build up in their area. Their situation made me very sad. There are so many crafty deceits to shake the gospel work and the faith and conduct of the believers. In Genesis 3, the Serpent deceives the woman through doubts and estrangement. Suddenly the promises and the nearness of God is blurred. How easily is gospel joy stolen by these crafty deceits, bringing dishonor to Christ and misery into the heart of man. Please pray for the restoration of the joy of salvation and the upholding with a willing spirit (Ps 51:12).
Please pray for Germany that after darkness the bright light of the gospel might shine anew into the hearts and minds of this nation. Christ is worthy.
In His grip,