I was born in 1983 into a family that had been part of the New Apostolic Church. The essential characteristic of this church is that it teaches that there are living apostles again today, as in biblical times, and that only these apostles are commissioned by Jesus to interpret the Scriptures, to give the Holy Spirit, and to proclaim the forgiveness of sins. My entire family had been New Apostolic for generations, and we were fully convinced that salvation could only be found in this church.
In 2002, when I was 18 years old, my sister and I wanted to spend the summer vacations with a host family in the U.S.A. We contacted an organization that arranged host families and they found one for us in Florida. But about two weeks before our flight, the organization told us that something had come up with the host family, so they couldn’t take us after all. They had already looked for alternative host families, but so spontaneously only one family was willing to take us. This family had seven children and lived in Wisconsin. My sister and I were not exactly thrilled. We had been looking forward to six weeks of sun and sea, not a bunch of little kids in presumably boring Wisconsin. But since the alternative would have been to spend the summer vacation at home, we finally agreed.
In God’s providence, our host family, the Seibel family, are born-again Christians – the first we met in our lives. We had many discussions with the parents, Tom and Amy, about faith and the accuracy and infallibility of Scripture, which we did not believe in. For the first time, we met people who really believed that God made the world in six days a few thousand years ago and that Darwin’s theory of evolution was wrong. We were very proud and shaped by the liberal teachings of the New Apostolic Church at that time and thus thought that our host parents were just kind but uneducated country people who knew nothing about science. However, these conversations gave me no peace. I realized that their faith was better than mine because they not only had a firm conviction but also lived by it. Everything they did, they did with Jesus. Their words and works were a great testimony.
When we were back in Germany, we were also back in our old lives and in the New Apostolic Church, but the experiences in the U.S.A. did not let me go. I began to listen to sermons by American preachers on the Internet and finally came across Paul Washer’s “Shocking Youth Message.” I was very stirred up and disturbed by the sermon. I had never heard anyone preach like that before. In the New Apostolic Church, everything was very civilized and reserved. But this preacher was crying and shouting. But his words struck me to the heart. I knew that he was also talking about me, that I too was a false Christian who could not stand before God and would go to hell. For the first time in my life, I was afraid of the holy God and His judgment on me.
But my life was slow to change. I continued to live among the wicked and did not know a single true Christian around me. But I began to read the Bible and believe it more and more. The more I knew and believed the Bible, the more I also realized that the message of the New Apostolic Church and the sermons I heard there were unbiblical. They only preached about what was pleasant to the hearers. God was only a God of love. Nothing was heard about God’s holy justice, sin, judgment, and repentance. And therefore there was no power of God there to change people’s hearts.
But since all my friends and family were in the New Apostolic Church, and I knew of no alternative, I still continued to attend the services, even though I no longer considered myself New Apostolic. After one service in March or April 2014, I finally told my wife that this was the last time I was in a New Apostolic church service. I would leave the church, even though I did not yet know what to do next. Although my family knew of my critique of the New Apostolic Church and their teachings, they were still surprised by my decision. My mother cried all night because she thought I was lost now that I had fallen away from the one true church.
So I didn’t know what to do next, but I knew I had to go to a church service on Sunday. Since I only knew the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church, which is very liberal in Germany, I attended a service in the neighboring Roman Catholic Church the next Sunday and a service of the Catholic Pius Brotherhood the following Sunday. But God’s Word was not preached there.
Only a few days later, I learned through my sister that a young HeartCry missionary, Peter Schild, had come to Frankfurt to plant a church here. He would start the next Saturday with Bible studies in his living room. My sister, my wife, and I attended this first Bible study and immediately realized that this was exactly what we were looking for. Here was the Bible taught and believed; here was the same faith that I had experienced with my host family in the U.S.A. So we stayed. A few weeks later, my mother wanted to see where her kids went. She also attended a Bible study and was converted. And a few months later, we persuaded my father to attend a Bible study, and he was also converted. In early 2015, we were all baptized.
After our conversion, our family, with whom we had a close relationship and who are all members of the New Apostolic Church, increasingly distanced themselves from us and finally broke off contact altogether. Only then did I realize that it is virtually impossible to be saved from the clutches of the New Apostolic Church. How great was God’s grace upon my family and me that He accomplished the impossible and saved us all! I was trapped in demonic teachings, unbelief, pride, a reprobate mind, and many other sins from childhood, but the Lord Jesus saved me and my family! All that I have and all that I am, I owe only to the love and grace of my Savior. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
Call to Ministry
After I finally had a biblical church, born-again Christians, and Bible-believing preaching in my life, the Lord gave by grace that I experienced sanctification more than before, was freed from sins, and was allowed to make fast progress in faith and the knowledge of Scripture and doctrine.
By noticing a lot of things in the church, I realized that God was giving me more and more the eye and heart of an overseer. I also developed a stronger and stronger desire to serve in the church and to care for the souls of the brothers and sisters. This was strengthened by the fact that brothers and sisters increasingly approached me with theological and pastoral questions.
The elders of the church in Wetzlar also noticed my progress and gradually assigned me more and more tasks. I began to read the Bible and pray in the worship service, then held small devotions, and eventually preached my first sermon.
The church and also my family confirmed that they were convinced that the Lord had endowed me with certain gifts that He was now calling me to use in His service. Through all this, I was strengthened in my conviction that it was God’s will for me to serve Him as a pastor in His church.
When the church in Frankfurt was officially founded in November 2016, I was ordained as pastor together with my beloved brother Peter Schild. Since then, the Lord has stood by my weak ministry and given me blessings and success, so that I became more and more convinced that I should pursue this ministry full-time.