Before I left for Germany I had the privilege of seeing “42.” It is probably one of the best movies I have seen in a long time, not just because the acting was well done. I really enjoyed the movie because of the story. Because of Jackie Robinson, because of Branch Rickey, that is why the movie was so good. Both of these men were strong Christians who believed in the equality of all. While at first Branch Rickey made it sound like his decision to bring in Jackie Robinson was purely a business move, later in the movie he explains to Jackie that he wanted to make a difference in the sport he loved. An actual quote I found of Rickey said:
“Ethnic prejudice has no place in sports, and baseball must recognize that truth if it is to maintain stature as a national game.”
There were a couple lines in the movie that I wanted to briefly talk about.
At one point in the movie Branch tells Jackie that to truly have sympathy means you suffer going back to the original Greek word from where we get sympathy. Isn’t that far different than what we normally think about when we hear the word sympathy. We hear to have sorrow for someone else’s misfortune, but do you truly suffer with them? When someone loses a loved one, do you feel as if you have too? When someone gets sick, are you sick too? When you see the commercials of starving children, do you get filled with the desire to make the suffering end? That is true sympathy and we should be more sympathetic in our daily lives.
My other favorite moment of the movie was when Jackie and his wife are both struggling with all of the events surrounding them…the hate, the threats, the words and every other terrible thing that people were doing to this young couple. Jackie’s wife, Rachel, says to her husband “If they knew you, they would be ashamed.” I know I am ashamed at some of the thoughts that pop in my head about some of the people I see throughout my day. Do you do the same? Some of the time I am sure that our thoughts are correct, but how often? I doubt it is nearly as often as we would like to imagine. The person we think is scum of the Earth might just be the salt of the Earth. We can’t know anything if we generalize, we must get to know someone.
I hope you go see this movie, but more than that I hope we begin to truly sympathize with those hurting around us and that we will see people for who they are and not who we think they are.
So today’s prayer Monday is going to be a little different than my other ones. I started language school today and am in a group of 17 people who come from 12 different countries. Here is what I would like to do. I want to highlight each of the countries and ask for prayers for each country and for each person in my class from that country. Here are the countries and the number of people representing that country.
Kosovo – 1
Russia – 1
Spain – 4
Portugal – 1
Ukraine – 1
China – 1
Turkey – 2
Italy – 2
USA – me!
Romania – 1
Brazil – 1
Greece – 1
If you have a second or two please pray for these countries and these people. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I be a light to them even though the only language we share is the language we are learning?
I’m going to try to do some videos over the next few weeks showing the area I live in, the building I work in, my apartment, etc. I haven’t shot a lot of video so please forgive the mediocre skills.
This week is a quick video of the building I will work in and eDOT’s office.
The title of this blog means “I love it.” What I want to do on a regular basis is show you some of the things that I am loving about my new town and country. Some entries may have videos, some may have pictures and some may be words. Some entries may be a long list and others may be much shorter. Let me introduce you to Germany and allow you to feel like you are here with me.
1. Merci – Kaffee and Sahne (Coffee and Cream) chocolate – This German based chocolate company makes a delicious bar – check it out if you ever get a chance.
2. Fresh pretzels – Oh my gosh they are so soft and delicious here, I can’t even tell you how much I love them!
3. Todtnau Falls – The highest natural falls in Germany. There is a moderately hard trail to the top, but it is worth it for sure.
4. Sankt (Saint) Blasien – The second largest domed Cathedral in Germany. It’s all-white marbled inside is quite a site.
5. Kandern, Germany – The town itself is a cute little town, but it’s history is amazing. There is evidence that it goes back to pre-historic times with the Celts.
6. Riedlingen, Germany – The little village that I will be living in dates back to as early as the early 900′s and looks like the typical quaint village I normally would think of. (More pictures to come later)
Poland is a country of over 38 million people bordering the Baltic Sea as well as seven countries. Of those 38 million people a vast majority (almost 90%) are associated with the roman Catholic Church and a very small percentage (.3%) are evangelical Christians. Despite these numbers, in a somewhat recent survey, less than 1% of the total population said they believed that faith is necessary for a successful life.
Please pray for:
- God to call more workers to Poland (fewest missionaries per capita).
- Polish Evangelicals to be strong and active in their faith.
I recently came across a ministry called prayercast who’s goal is to produce a prayer video for every country in the world. I enjoyed the video on Poland, so I thought I would start sharing them whenever they have a video for the country of the week. So here is Poland!
Right before I left Toledo I ran into an old friend and it was one of the most awkward things I have experienced in a long time. This guy and I used to be really good friends. The two of us and one other guy were practically inseparable during high school and then we even lived on the same hall for part of college. My last year in college we lived together in a town house with two other guys and yet here we were in an awkward conversation a few (ok, more than a few) years later.
We literally just kind of stared at each other not really knowing what to say. I asked him what he has been up to (you know, for the last 10 years, nothing like throwing him an easy to answer question) and he did the same. We struggled to find any question that could sustain a question for more than a minute or so and yet…we failed.
I left that conversation, or lack-thereof, and had this immediate sense of sadness. We were friends, good friends and yet I barely knew who he was any more. He barely knew who I was either. We didn’t do it intentionally, we just kind of stopped talking to each other, we stopped investing time in each other. Sadly I can look back on my life and see that as a recurring experience.
I have had many friends over the course of my life and it seems like every time one of us moves on we lose track completely. Have you found that to be true for you? Do you have friends with which you wish you would have kept in contact? I can’t help but wonder why I do this, why so many of use lose track of people we once considered possibly as close as family. I have many regrets in my life and this is definitely one of them.
I think this hit me more than normal because I was moving to Germany and it would be harder to connect with my current friends. I have to actually make an effort. I’m hoping my friends will to, but regardless, if I value these relationships (which I do) then I need to act, not just wait for others to act.
Thank goodness for Skype and Google Voice which allow me to text, call and see my friends and family. Now I just need to remember the 6 hour time difference so I don’t wake my brother up again before 6:00 AM. Oops! Sorry Ben!
It’s been just over a week and I think my brain just fully caught up with me. Things have been a little crazy in the last two weeks, but I wouldn’t change anything. God has been in the process and He continues to guide me. I may not always like the way things have progressed, but in the end His plan is good!
I thought I would update you all a little on what has been going from a week before I left until now.
- Right before I left Ohio, my family and some friends helped me pack a container full of stuff that I wouldn’t see for a month or so.
- Said my tearful goodbyes to my family at Detroit airport (I’m sure I looked rather strange crying while in the security line).
- Hung out with friends in Maryland.
- Prayer send-off and Buffalo Wild Wings fundraiser where my friends came out in full-force!
- My flight from DC to Basel, Switzerland had a long layover in London, but other than that was uneventful.
Since my arrival there has been a ridiculous amount of things that have happened (most of which I think I can remember, jet lag definitely kicked my butt!)
- Courtney and Dana picked me up from the airport and have shown me around town, fed me and shown me some of the other places that I will be going to soon to set up the apartment that I have yet to find.
- I’ve set up a bank account, gone car shopping, registered as living here, learned how to grocery shop, and a whole bunch of other things you wouldn’t even think would be necessary.
- On May 13th I am going to start language school in Loerrach. Four hours a day for 24 weeks and that’s just the start! I’m looking forward to it even though I have heard that it is intense and difficult. I’m ready to start speaking German!
That’s all for today, but I plan on sharing more regularly about what’s going on here and other random thoughts that enter my brain. For now I want to leave you with a slideshow of Kandern, Germany, my new town!
Norway, a country of almost 5 million people is one of four Scandinavian countries. The vast majority of Norwegians are affiliated with the Christian church (91%) and it has one of the larger percentages of evangelicals in Europe that I have seen so far while doing Prayer Monday (8.4%). Norway has strong mission-sending traditions and lively mission vision today. Pentecostals and independent mission organizations within the Lutheran Church are the core of this sending tradition. Norway remains proportionally one of the top sending nations, even while again focusing on the renewed need for home missions. But a new wave of younger missionaries is called for.
Please pray for:
State-church pastors to be increasingly committed to biblical theology.
A revival among the church.
Norway’s many missionaries to be used by God for amazing things in all the nations they are serving in.
The younger generations to be reached through Christ-centered ministries.
In just over 3 hours I am leaving Toledo with my mom, step-dad, brother and sister-in-law to go to Detroit airport and head to Maryland. I’ll be in Maryland for three days and then leave the US for Germany for the longest continuous stretch of time that I have ever been away from home.
Recently people have been asking me how I feel about the whole moving thing and my honest answer has consistently been, “depends on when you ask me.” It seems as though my brain is not even able to comprehend what it is thinking. My heart (not literal one of course) is so confused that very little emotion is shown on my face at some points.
At training we were introduced to the idea of a pair of ducks (yeah and yuck ducks) as an illustration of the paradox that we are going through as missionaries leaving and that our friends and family will be going through as well. I thought I would give you some of my yeah and yuck ducks as I prepare to leave:
This time in my life is one of the most exciting times in my life – yeah
I’m leaving my mom, who is my main support, my exercise partner and cooks some good food! – yuck
I’m moving to Germany – yeah
I’m leaving my brother whom I have become better friends with in the past year and a half than ever before – yuck
I’m going to be able to use the skills God has given me to help Europeans and Missionary kids – yeah
I’m leaving the only country I have ever lived in – yuck
I’m going to be fluent in another language within a year (hopefully) – yeah
I’m going to miss holidays with family – yuck
I’m going to be able to travel to places I never would have been able to normally – yeah
I’m leaving friends both in Ohio and Maryland (and some other places too!) – yuck
As you can see these are just some of the things that are going through my mind at any given time. It will be hard to say goodbye to my family today, but knowing that God will use me is worth it. It will be difficult, but God will provide my family, friends and I with the strength to remain close even when we are so far away.
First off let me include a link to a video my supervisor showed me about the Netherlands. It will probably confuse you more than help, but it will at least let you know that there is a difference between Holland and the Netherlands.
Now that we got that out of the way, how about we look at how we can be praying for the Dutch.
Many of the church buildings in the Netherlands have been converted to shops, apartments or event halls. Their are Christ-following congregations still, but some have let societal norms affect their teaching. Most churches are declining in size, but evangelical churches are growing. Too often the Dutch only want their faith for christenings, marriage blessings and funerals.
Please pray for:
The existing churches to reach out and plant more churches.
God’s protection from negative cultural influences.