the least of these

"Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Mathew 25:40

Urgent need in Berlin!!

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Christian & Marit Boguslawski: Mavuno Berlin

The situation is serious. Let me write my impressions and experience right from my heart. Berlin alone will settle 70,000 refugees in 2015 while the country at large will take in upwards of one million. A few weekends ago, 26,000 people entered the country in three days. During the last weeks, thousands of refugees arrived in our neighborhood. I have been going to one of the refugee camps at least four days a week to help. At the beginning, we (myself and some other people from the church) sorted clothing and hygiene products that people had donated. The organization that is operating that camp was totally overwhelmed. Even the government is still overwhelmed with this situation. One day, Ole and I – just the two of us in a very small room – were sorting clothes and the Vice President of the Bundestag came in. She wanted to figure out how the government can act in this situation that none of the politicians were expecting. After a couple days, we no longer sort clothing or hand out food. Because the organizational part is now taken care of by the operator of the refugee camp, we instead spend time with the refugees­ some of which are highly traumatized. We talk via Google Translate on our Smartphones. We use broken English. And we use our hands and feet to talk. We hear their stories. We learn about their culture shock after their long journey after being chased from ISIS. Some of them have lost family and close friends during the last couple of weeks. As we talk to each other we learn about their experiences in Germany. For example: they are not used to so many products containing lactose. A catering service brings food to the refugee camp, but they don’t know much about their food preferences. In the press, we read that one refugee was surprised when he came here because he was told that Christians are dirty dogs. “Now I am here and they are so hospitable.” Yesterday we were playing table tennis and backgammon with some boys. One boy (who won every single game of backgammon) told us that he is in Berlin with his brother. His four other brothers and six sisters are still in Iraq. He is sometimes able to skype with his family. Another women told us that she had had to flee after ISIS killed her husband because he did not have appropriate clothes. A couple days later, ISIS people were ringing at her door and told her she had to marry one of their men. So she decided to flee. Stories like that one move us and let us interrupt our normal weekly schedule. And I am so proud of the people in our church who are willing to volunteer at the refugee camps. This situation is bringing churches in this area together. We are meeting tonight to share experience and knowledge about culture and how to teach refugees German. We strongly believe that, as churches, we need to play a big role in this situation because no government institution or charity can handle it! We know that isolation can be a poison for good relationships. So we are starting to work together with all these institutions to influence the culture as best as we can. There are still people in our neighborhood that are skeptical about refugees, but we can be a bridge for them. Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview that the fear of all of these refugees and ISIS is not a good answer. Instead of being afraid that so many Muslims are coming, we should begin to remember our roots. We should start to really know the Bible and go to church again. Less than 5% of the population in Germany goes to church. People don’t know anymore what made our culture so strong and attractive. If we know our Christian roots, Muslim people will begin to respect us. They will talk openly about their religion. And we should do that as well! This is a perfect chance to invite neighbors and people in our area to our church. And we want to invite them to Rooted – so that they also become rooted! As I am writing these words, we are noticing a spiritual battle coming up. Our pastors had to stop working because the heating system broke and water leaked into our sanctuary where we have Sunday services. Many small and big things are happening. Problems from the inside and from outside. And we call – sometimes cry – to God for help. We see God’s hand in all of this because he was preparing me and my family at Mariners Church for exactly this situation. Now we are back here for more than half of a year and I work fulltime for the church without a contract. We as family know that God is calling us to help Mavuno Berlin. The church has been growing again since the time we returned. I now have the opportunity to mobilize people to take the next step in order to help them find a place where they can make a significant impact. I don’t know if what I am doing is legal because I am technically supposed to show that I have applied for several jobs in order to be employed again. If I don’t, the government will not pay for our family social security anymore. I still believe that God’s call is real. He helps us as family and encourages us by brothers and sisters who are led by the spirit to tell us that we should continue. That is not always easy. By the end of October, I need to have a work contract through the church or I will have to work somewhere else. Then all of these relationships and projects that started in the last couple of weeks will stop growing. Thinking about this makes me sad because God has done so much in these last couple of months. So this may be my last letter as a Pastor at Mavuno Berlin. This is what we want to do: If God is moving someone’s heart to allow us to continue what started already, I would like to keep collaborating with these different churches, charities and political organizations. We would be able to invite people around our church to potentially start projects that are significantly helpful for this city. I would start to apply for money from the EU (European Social Funds) to create new staff positions that would help in the situation with refugees. This would need a couple thousand Euro for research and to create a proposal that hopefully gets approved. If you know someone who has a heart for Berlin, for our church or for refugees, please tell them about our unique situation and the chance to do something meaningful for the history in Berlin. Our goal is to create something that is self­sustaining, but we need an investment to get there. We as church are suffering because we have to think about every cent in terms of whether we want to put it into our building (that is just the very basic standard that people keep coming), into salary or something to work with like a computer, furniture for our kids program, sound tech, etc.. We believe this is not how God wants it to be. And we believe he can speak to our brothers and sisters in our network around the world. An answer to prayer would be the salary for my position and for part of Ole’s salary for the next three years. All additional money would be used for project costs to be as impactful as possible. God bless you! Best regards Christian + Marit Boguslawski

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