God at Work in the Land of Luther

Field worker updates from Germany

God at Work in the Land of Luther

    09.14.16 | Stories Mission by Tom Keppeler

    Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? ...For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men...But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong... [corinthians] 

    God called William, a successful American real estate lawyer, to leave his career in Maryland and move his family to Germany. William arrived last year in Frankfurt two weeks before the flood of refugees entered Germany. William is now a catalyst to seeing mono-multi-cultural German churches planted around Frankfurt and beyond with the Mosiak-Kirche network. It was a privilege being with William all week here in Germany.

    God is doing something amazing in the land of Luther. . . .

    Kathi is Russian born and arrived in Germany when she was three months old.  Raised in Germany, she is a first generation German who came to Christ in high school, and is passionate about church planting.  Recently married, she and her Malaysian husband, CeWhy are planting a church in downtown Frankfurt among bankers, prostitutes and the down-and-out with the  Mosaic-Kirche network. They are the face of the new Germany.  God is doing something amazing in the land of Luther. . . . 

    Lionel is from Cameron and his non-Christian father sent him to Germany after Lionel came to Christ in Cameron to ensure that Lionel would not go into ministry.  Lionel is married to a German and finished seminary in Germany. He works as a church planter in Offenbach a city/district on the outskirts of Frankfurt. There are 156 nations represented in Frankfurt and the population is 58% immigrant. All church plants that have been attempted there in the past 20 years have failed. There are 6 evangelical churches in Offenbach, the largest being 120 members. Lionel is known as “the African pastor” in Offenbach and is sought out by city officials as they try to “deal with” the refugee challenges. They launched their church plant a year ago and have 50-60 that gather weekly for worship as well as participate in home groups. Lionel is inspired by Dietrich Bonhoffer’s Das Gemeinsam Leben (Life Together) and sees bringing youth into deep community as critical for reaching Offenback. Because of the international flavor of Offenback, Lionel is very open to having non-German-speaking, disciple-making/mentoring help to give him more capacity. Lionel and his wife are the face of the new Germany. God is doing something amazing in the land of Luther. . . .

    Sharehaus-Refugio meets in a church facility that once housed a vibrant congregation in the heart of Berlin’s artists’ district—Kreuzberg.  At Sharehaus-Refugio, refugees are invited to live in the building—engage in community together with various german and international Christian workers.  There are house/community rules, a coffee shop open to the public as well as various initiative that help refugees engage in or find employment, including a kitchen that serves as an incubator for refugees to get into the food service business (most of the Syrian refugees are well educated—one Syrian woman at Refugio used to have her own cooking show on Syrian television).  Sven, the director of Refugio shared that their biggest challenge is what we do now with everyday life. . . refugees challenge Germans on their faith and we have to rethink what is going on this country.  This whole situation is giving us a new window of understanding what is true faith. Refugio offers a context for doing things together that are healing, especially for the refugees.  God is doing something amazing in the land of Luther. . . .

     In Hamburg we encountered the reality of revival taking place among Iranian and Afghani refugees in the greater Hamburg area.  Church leaders in Hamburg have organized a network called Gemeinsam fur Hamburg <Together for Hamburg> which is a network of 120 church and roughly 40 Christian ministries to share knowledge, experience and when feasible to work together to address the refugee crisis and reach refugees.  We spent two days with numerous participants in this network including Pastor Albert, an Iranian-born, ethnic Armenian who has been in Germany for 28 years and is pastoring the Farsi-speaking Pentecostal church in Hamburg. 

    God is doing something amazing in the land of Luther. . . . 

    We attended the morning session of the Gemeinsam fur Hamburg conference.  The plenary talk given by Johannes Reimer emphasized that the globalized, connected world we live means that when we reach refugees here in Hamburg with the gospel we are de-facto connecting to the worldwide diaspora of their countrymen on all continents, including their homelands—an unprecedented opportunity and a Kairos moment in the history of the church.  And that God has so seen fit to put Germany back on the stage of global mission for such a unique time as this. . . God is doing something amazing in the land of Luther. . . .

    Finally, after the conference, we had a thought-provoking conversation with the leadership of FEG Gemeinde – Zentrum:  Markus Endlich and Reinhardt Sphinke, both who have many connections to Elmbrook. Through their network of 3 coffeehouses, they are teaching German classes to over 140 different refugee students a week (nine different classes a week) as well as providing counseling and coaching in life issues, legal issues and health issues. . . a kind of  “German James Place”.  They would love to have apprentices come from Elmbrook for 3-24 months. Imagine Elmbrook mission apprentices learning German side by side with the refugees while they serve among the refugees and see what God does! God is doing something amazing in the land of Luther!

    For more information about these initiatives, contact Tom Keppeler, Elmbrook Pastor of Strategic Partnerships, at