31 May 2005

newsletter jan to may 05

January to May 2005

Wow... time goes by quickly when your busy! I apologize for the belated quarterly newsletter- I know it was due in march, but I didn't have home internet access yet at that point. So here is a look at what I've been up to... it's a lot, so I will try to keep my stories brief... as always, I'd be glad to hear feedback and answer any questions!

January 4 I arrived in Bremen, Germany. I told the story in my last newsletter about how I came to move to Bremen, so I won't repeat it. It was definitely a move of faith, though, and God has been blessing it immensely! I have been in Bremen four months, and have seen three people commit their lives to Christ (Zwerg, Hanna, and Murmel). Awesome!!

It wasn't easy to start out, though. In each of the scenes I am working in there was a moment of breakthrough. The first break came in the street-punk scene my first week in Bremen. I was waiting at the main station for Krümel (a Jesus Freak from the punk scene) and was being pretty much ignored when Nobby, the top grufti-guy called me over. Here's the dialoge that followed:
N: hey Jesus punk.. convert me!
C: no.
N: come on, you're a good Christian, right, you have to save my soul.
C: I don't feel like it. Anyway, I can't. you don't know me, what right do I have to tell you what to believe?
N: I don't believe in God anyway.
C: ah.
N: I worship him (points down)
C: you believe in him?
N: yeah, why not. He's my friend. Why do you believe in God?
C: (ok, I'll spare you guys the testimony, I told 2 stories from my life and about how I came to know God)
N: well, ok, I guess if I experienced stuff like that, I would believe in him too.
C: tell him that.
N: are you crazy? I don't talk to something that doesn't exist. (pause) but you have a relationship to him, right? You pray for me.
C: you think I can talk to someone who doesn't exist? if you think I can talk to him, you might as well do it yourself.
N: I don't know how.
C: just the same things you said to me with a "hey God" in front.
N: (PRAYS!!!!!!!!)

After that conversation, every time I came up to the group he broke away to greet me... and the others followed his example. Pretty cool response, considering he only wanted to make me the laughing stock! I love the way God can turn situations and use them for His glory!

A lot of people ask how I distribute my time... well, it's hard to say because almost always something (or someone) comes between what I think is on my schedule and what needs to be done in Gods eyes. But here is a basic overview:
Mon: 2pm-4ish soup with the homeless, evenings at the main station
Tues: 12-homeless kitchen, 5-punker café (open end, usually till 9ish)
Wed: 2pm-4ish soup with the homeless, 7-11ish Alpha course
Thurs:12-home for retarded, 7-street group(open end,usually till 11ish)
Fri: 2pm-4ish soup with the homeless, evenings at the main station
Sat: workshops/ free
Sun: church! 3-8ish (with set up and clean up)

You may notice that there isn't anything in the mornings. That is the time I use to get ready for the day, pray and worship God, and (up till now) to go from one state office to the next on the search for a visa.


Hanna: a 17-year-old punk girl who I met the first time I did punker café and am now discipling. She opened up and shared quite a lot, and then decided to come to church with me Sunday. Since then she has rededicated her life to Christ and become an active member of the church. The past month she lived with me (in my little 10 square meter room) because she can't go home anymore and wanted to break up from her boyfriend. it was a bit stressful at times, having no place to withdraw. We were able (after a very stressful fight) to get her belongings out of the old apartment and talk to the youth service office who eventually organized her a room nearby. Even though she has moved out, she comes by every day. Pray that she will be able to let her faith sink into her heart- her main struggle is trusting in Gods goodness and letting Him take control over her own will.

Her ex-boyfriend, Murmel, age 21, also gave his life to Christ, but shortly after went back to his old lifestyle of drugs and alcohol. Last week he ended up in jail (because of train fines), an answer to prayer, I think. That sounds cruel, but I really think it is the best place for him to be and to sober up and think about his life. He wrote us that he has nothing in his cell except a bed, toilet, and Bible, and that he can only leave his cell two hours a day. So he reads. He will be there 4 to 8 months. Pray that this time really will help him sort his life out and come close to God.

Hans Beulle is a 38-year-old homeless alcoholic and drug user with HIV who also hears voices in his head. The past month he was clean and dry for three weeks, during which time he had his birthday. I baked him a cake and asked if he had a special wish, and he asked me for a Bible! So I gave him my german Bible and he read in it daily and would show me what he read and discuss it. It was awesome to see how fast he was absorbing the word of God. Then he read about the demon possessed man and how Jesus cast the demons into the pigs and asked me "and who is going to drive my demons out?" after he asked that he got visibly more and more troubled, depressed, and shaky. he began to talk about the voices not leaving him alone and that he can't handle it anymore, and went off to get drunk. This all within the hour of asking for prayer. I didn't want to deal with him and this situation alone, and was waiting for Heiko, one of the Jesus Freaks, as all this took place. By the time heiko got there, hans was gone and we couldn't find him for a week.

Since then it's gotten very difficult to deal with him. The voices don't leave him alone at all... talking to him is like leading a group therepy- if you close your eyes you think there are at least five people there. Pray for him to kick his addictions and be in a state of mind where we can work with him- sober he acknowledges Christ and desires to live for Him.

In the interest of saving space I will tell about the others in my next letter... there are still quite a few. It's hard to sum these people up in a few sentences that can convey the heart of the message! God has really given me a burden to see these people come close to Him. I read my descriptions of them and think "yeah, that was him/her..." but in my mind's eye I already see them as new beings. I don't know if that makes any sense at all... I see who they can become.

Using Unexpected Opportunities

On our way home from the Jesus Freaks leadership conference we landed in still stand on the autobahn- only a few meters past the exit! We were stressed for time and dog tired from the weekend. As it became clear that we weren't going anywhere for awhile, krümel and I decided to walk up and down the rows of cars and pass out flyers to the other annoyed people and to try to talk to them about God. Despite some rather nasty responces, it turned out to be a great thing. By using the time for God, we got out of our own grouch and helped a few others as well. We also got into some good conversations and invited a lot of people to Freakstock (the Jesus and music festival). Since we had already gone as far as we dared and still there was a delay, meaning we would not make it to church in bremen, I suggested we have church right there. So we stood in front of the car and started praise and worship. It started to rain, but we kept praising God- and He was there, present on the highway with us. Then all of a sudden, the way was cleared and all the cars could go again. We even made it to church.

Because I had to run from office to office and back again a zillion times to get my visa, I had the opportunity to share with a lot of people about God. Crazy? The first question they all ask is "what do you want to do here?" so I tell them. :) we have a creative God- in the end they created a whole new category of visa for me to have because I didn't qualify for the standard ones, but they thought what I am doing is worthwhile. I am classified as a "freely-creating artist with social interests." They said once I meet the visa requirements I should let them know- but I have a year to do so.

I'm probably leaving out a lot of very important, funny and tragic stories. But this is a newsletter and not a book, so I guess I'll stop writing now.
Stay blessed

Colossians 3:23
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."


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