Life is like a rug. Looking at the bottom it is hard to make out the pattern, but looking at the top it is easy to make it out. Similarly, this side of Heaven it is hard to make out the plans God has for our life, but looking back we can see how he has worked all things together for good. Such is the story of how I find myself in Germany.
In 1932, Winfried Schroeder was born the youngest of 6 children. He grew up the son of bakers, in the small town of Bergneustadt. This was a memorable era in Germany history as Hitler worked to advance his objectives. As for young Windfried, he recalls stories such as trading bread for hand carved wooden airplanes to Russian soldiers in hiding out behind their home. An innocent trade until the Gestapo found out. Rumor also has it, one of the soldiers even gave him and his brother a pistol which is still thought to be in the woods behind the house.
In 2004 shortly after I accepted Christ, I was asked to participate in a singles ministry leadership retreat through Mariners Church. The first night of the event a beautiful blonde hair girl, named Carolyn Schroeder, caught my eye. Although she does not remember this moment, she later became my wife.
Over the last 14 years Carolyn and I have served in various ministries at Mariners Church. Mariners has become our home church and it’s many of it’s members part of our family. In the spring of 2015 we were introduced to Christian and Marit Boguslawski, who at the time where global interns at Mariners from Mavuno Church in Berlin. Marit and Christian Aka the Boogys, quickly became friends and the seeds for ministry in Germany were planted in our hearts.
In the fall of 2015, I awoke form a nap and felt called to immediately contact Christian as thoughts of refugees overwhelmed me. Quickly in my discussion with Christian I was struck by the ministry potential, and could not contain my desire to act.Many of you know the journey I have been on the last few months. However, one of the most amazing stories is yet to be told.
As fait would have it, Mariners Church had long established a global partnership with Mavuno Berlin, and also with a extraordinary man of God in Germany named Horst Engelmann. As I would come to find out, Horst was the head of missions at Forum Wiedenest in Bergneustadt. Coincidence? I don’t believe so.
As if this was all not enough, God had more. In the spring of 2010, a young student at Carolyns school named Jackie came to her class. She introduced herself as a student from Germany who was attending American school for 1 year. Jackie is also from Bergneustadt.
I believe after decades, God is pointing our hearts back to this small town in Germany to do something big. Although I am not sure where this road leads I walk in faith with such clear signs to move ahead.
My first two days in Germany are an amazing example of how God has woven this story together. My team from Mariners has been sent to Forum Wiedenest for a week of outreach to serve refugees. Jackie met me at FW, drove me Richard & Barbels house (dear friends of Johanes Schoreder, Windfrieds brother and whom we name Laim after) were I will stay while in Bergneustadt.
Mariners Team preparing for Refugee Outrearch week at Forum Wiedenest.
On Saturday we will be form 6 teams all commissioned to work with refugees around Germany. My team will be deployed to Zwickau in the east. All this said, I am at home, away from home, participating in an incredible story only God can orchestrate.
Stay tuned, more to come!