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Global Mission Update: Newness of Life in the Land of Luther (March 2013)
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4 ESV).
Today in Germany and throughout Europe, few respond to the Good News of Christ’s death and resurrection. The great cathedrals and churches are empty and the majority of people walk in the darkness of death, not the newness of life in Christ. Yet, God is giving The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) new, unexpected opportunities to spread His Word on German soil.
In cities like Berlin and Leipzig there are large, immigrant, Muslim communities where our partner church, the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) of Germany, is working to spread the Easter message.
Groups of Iranian immigrants are eagerly responding to the salvation and forgiveness found in God’s Word. Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt of the SELK says, “every time I meet the people from Iran I can see in their face the joy of the Gospel.” The message of salvation is working so strongly, they refer to it as a “second
Hugo Gevers, South African missionary with German heritage, is called by the SELK to witness and show mercy to the refugees through a mission effort, called Die Brüke (The Bridge), in the city of Leipzig. The congregation he works with is two-thirds German and one-third Iranian. Many of the Iranians, having fled their country, find themselves homeless in the land of Luther.
One young girl shared her story of when her family fled Iran. “I remember I was given a cold drink that made me very sleepy,” she said. “At one point I vaguely remember being passed from the back seat into the luggage trunk. When I woke up from my sleep, everything had changed.”
For a long time she hardly spoke a word to anyone because she was sad and afraid, until finally she started asking questions. “Where am I, mother?” she asked, “Why did I have to leave all my friends and Granddad, without even saying goodbye? When can I go back to school?” But she said even her parents “had no idea how to cope with this strange new situation.”
The mission in Leipzig exists to receive such refugees in mercy and love. Die Brüke provides physical and spiritual assistance through hostels, where families receive food, clothing and shelter. These hungry souls are exposed to the Word of God as Pastor Gevers visits the hostels, leads worship services and teaches
“The best part of my job,” says Gevers, “is explaining from Scripture that God is love and to see the veil of Islam being lifted. I have seen, many times, the sun of the Gospel makes the face light up with joy!”
In Berlin the Gospel is also reaching many. In a matter of six months, one congregation baptized more than 100 former Muslims!
Because of your financial gifts, the LCMS is walking alongside our partner, the SELK, with resources and financial grants that enable them to provide merciful care for these refugees, leading them to Christ, their Savior.
Rev. Roger Zieger, director for Lutheran Church Mission in Germany, explains that after they hear about the Gospel, many of the Iranians “are eager to take it to their families and tell them about what they’ve learned,” much like the women at the tomb on Easter morning.
Acts 2:39 says, “the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” The promise is the Easter Good News of forgiveness, life and salvation in our risen Lord. God is calling the immigrants. By the power of the Holy Spirit they believe and are being baptized.
Your gift to the LCMS Global Mission Fund will, by God’s grace, share this Easter message of salvation in the risen Christ with more and more people in our own communities and around the world. Send your gift today of $100, $50, or $250, or whatever God has placed in your heart, joining it with the gifts of your fellow redeemed, and trust God to bless and use it to call people to faith in Christ Jesus!
Hope in Christ is ours!
Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison
The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod
PS: Please keep this mission and the efforts of our close partner, the SELK, in your prayers.