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


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Response

“How was the trip?” Is the first question people ask?  “Awesome,” I say.  Then comes, “What did you learn?”  This is when it becomes overwhelming. When reflecting on the trip there is so much to process. Conversations, experiences, impressions were all like drinking out of a fire hose.  Yet, now comes the challenge.  What do we do?  Mobilizing others to take action and respond to what God is doing in Germany is a huge next step.  I feel God has spoken clearly to our team, but now is the time for action.

No doubt, the best place to start is with Prayer.  We must pray.  And I encourage big prayers, the ones that make God sweat a little.  Let him know we are alive and engaged with His Kingdom.  I have added a new page to this blog called Prayer Requests.  You can access by Clicking Here, or on the main menu.  I will start with the request I received through the main meetings and conversations we had on our trip. I will continue to add, update, and report on answered prayers.  Please use the contact form to submit any request God has placed on your heart. This is the most important thing we can do.

Finally, Serve.  We need people to go to Germany and be a part of what God is doing.  We need people in the United States to help build and assist efforts forming to evangelize in Germany. We need Germans to engage not only refugees, but their communities in new ways.

There is a rare Window of Opportunity here.  Many asylum seekers will not be granted visas and will quickly be returned home.  For example, the young women we met whose family sold everything to move from Afghanistan.  Her country is not considered a War Zone, and so her family will be sent back in a few weeks.  We need to reach these people before they are sent home.  All of the asylum seekers need to be shown the gospel, so they can take Jesus back to build new nations.

We must respond.
If you are interested in serving in any capacity please contact me direct:
Ben – webjamin@gmail.com


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Here to Serve

12212538_10208145459903717_1981180623_nThey say to get to know someone you must walk a mile in their shoes.  In our case we tried to walk 1,400 miles in  a few hours.  Although this is impossible on most levels, I felt connected and blessed to be given even a glimpse of the life many from Syria face.  The most resounding message I heard God speak through my experience here in Berlin is that helping refugees is not about programs, but Relationships.

I believe Satan loves to immobilize us with logistics planning when Jesus is calling for action.  Where we will find the volunteers, where will we do this event, how much will it cost are all common stalling points.  Maybe it is our western thinking that makes us feel the need to answer these questions before we act, or maybe it is an attempt by the enemy.  Either way, relationship is as easy as just showing up.

Personally, I relate to the saying that, “If Satan can’t get you to Sin, he will get you to be busy.” When we are busy we have not time for relationship, no time to serve others, no time to reflect on what God is calling us to do.  Often, I have really good excuses to not serve. For example, “I am too busy with my family to serve.” In this case, not only have I missed Gods call for me but potentially kept my family from experiencing God as well.  I ask for forgiveness that I have used busyness and logistics as a way to avoid Him.

Each day in Berlin has built on the next.  Yesterday, we were blessed by refugees 12191580_10206844241040712_8781825635494990251_nliving in the community.  When I was with them I felt a closeness to God I long for.  Just sitting down and drinking coffee, listening to their stories, playing games has changed my heart forever.  The Syrians are beautiful people.  The ones I met never once spoke against America or Christians.  They knew who we were and where we were from, and this did not matter in the slightest to them.  What mattered was we were there.  They could tell we wanted genuine relationship with them, and so they poured out their hearts, minds, and stories to us.  They told us they wanted to work, they loved their country, and they were grateful for Germany.  Whatever negative stereotype I have heard, the people I met were not it.  These are people I would like in my community.

God addresses the need to care for refugees directly all throughout the bible.  My hope and prayer is that as our team returns to the USA we can help our community to embrace refugees from Syria and other war torn parts of the world.  I pray for open hearts and a Welcome Culture in the USA.  I pray that Jesus would reveal himself to these refugees, and they would some day return to Syria to rebuild a new nation. Let us not be distracted, but united in Love.  We should look to Germany for the example, and remember we are Here to Serve.


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Is a 2nd Reformation coming?

What is God doing in Germany?  God is using refugees as a catalyst of change in the hearts and minds of Germans toward him.  As our host Horst EDSC_0142ngelemani said today, “This is not a Refugee Crisis, but a Refugee Opportunity.”  This is an opportunity for intercultural reconciliation. The Lord is using refugees to restore his children.

Such is the nature of Shalom, so we should not be surprised by what is happening.  After all, God is in the business of restoration.  Further, only a mighty God can use all things for good in those who believe in Him.  This is why we can look with great expectation to the bountiful harvest waiting in Germany and around the world now.

Today was a life changing day.  It simply and clearly answered all my questions I set 12188918_10208145895914617_7054388029026513314_nout to answer on this trip.  Such things are only capable through an anointed and gifted leader as the one we were blessed to meet today.  Horst Engelemani can speak clear, gentle, and with a manner that moves one radically toward God.

It was such a pleasure to travel to Wiedenest Bible College with Horst.  The facility is modern, beautiful, and tucked away in the gentle countryside.  It was here that we heard from students doing amazing ministry with refugees.  We also heard the incredible vision Hosti has for his next calling with Jesus Unite.  This exciting ministry seeks an intercultural platform of leaders and committed Christians from different networks, organizations, and churches to reach Germany with the Gospel together in a new way. The vision is compelling and the harvest is plenty.  Thank you Horst for your faithful obedience to Gods calling.  God has, is, and will use you in a powerful way to advance His Kingdom in Germany and around the world.

On a more personal note, the Wiedenest Bible College is close to 1 mile away from where my father in law, Winfried Schroeder spent the first 19 years of his life. DSC_0144 The same home where his brother, Johannes Schroeder (whom my son was named after), lived for close to 70 years.  I am told that behind the back of the grain mill, in the grassy area behind the back garage, was a prison camp for captured Russian / Soviet soldiers.  They used to carve wooden airplanes for my father in law & his brothers.

God works in amazing ways!


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Germany: A shining example for the nations.

Landesamt für Gesundheit und SozialesThe level of organization and support toward the refugees in Berlin is extraordinary.  I guess it should be no surprise that the country known for organization and efficiency would handle the current crisis in any other way.  Not only is Germany a leader here, but a profound example of how a country can change for such good in a short period of time.
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Our exposure to the refugees started at the Landesamt für Gesundheit und Soziales, or the State Office of Health and Welfare.  FullSizeRender (1)This facility serves as the central processing center for refugees in Berlin.  Here refugees check in and are assigned a camp/home to report to.  We also found that basic medical aid and personal items can easily be accessed here.

The magnitude of this place set in when we looked at the hundreds of people sitting, waiting to reach their final destination.  When you think of the journey they took; DSC_0048the miles they walked, the dangerous voyage across the sea, it is amazing they made it.  However, not only are they met with danger the whole journey, some are still vulnerable once they arrive in Germany.  As was the situation, of baby Elias. Elias was abducted by a stranger DSC_0049from this exact site, led off by his hand with no visible sign of distress, and was later met by the fate of that of a nightmare.

Each neighborhood has an organizing authority which coordinates, church, volunteer and professional help.  In the community surrounding Mavuno Berlin tDSC_0099his responsibility goes to Stadtteilzentrum Steglitz.  It is here were the needs of each camp are coordinated and managed, often with such efficiency that needs are met before others are able to deliver.

We spent extensive time at Thielallee Camp, were we learned the specifics of success and challenges they and other camps have had since the crises began.  Of DSC_0098course, the massive influx this summer has strained all aspects of the system.  However, the common attitude here is that of Chancellor Angela Merkel response to the crisis, “We can do it and we will do it,”

Despite the massive influx of refugees we are constantly amazed at how well Germany has quickly responded to the situation.  The camps are well constructed, clean, orderly, and provide extensive security.  Visitors are generally not allowed, and protection of the refugees is second to none.

The one thing that has become clear is our initial assumption was correct.  The best response for us, is in relation to deeper needs and community integration.  The details of this type of response are complex and must be long range.  Over the balance over our trip we hope to cast a more defined vision with our Church partner Mavuno Berlin in relation to our findings.

In general the trip is going well, full days, and lots to do.  I think all of us have a sense that God is using us to do something bigger.


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A Day of Worship

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Tired but excited, we were met by our host Christian Boguslawski otherwise known as “Boogy” at Tegel International Airport.  He quickly shepherded us off to Mavuno Berlin to join a party in process.  I was pleasantly surprised to attend my firsDay of Worshipt Reformation Day Celebration.  We were greated by Martin Luther and were shown a replica of an old Bible Press?

 

Sunday morning came quick as we adjusted to our new time zone.  After a traditional German Breakfast, we made our way to Church to experience worship in Berlin.  Probably my most found memory will be off the “Playground.”  This playground consisted of an old tree stump in the brush near the church. The center of attention was “Opa” using his axe to break off pieces of wood for the boys.  Not sure if it was the axe or the anticipation of wood for spears, but the boys were well entertained.  One of the boys, with laser focus, used a Swiss army knife to sharpen the point on his newly fashioned spear.  I loved it!

The service it’s self was simple but sweet.  The worship, message, and light shining through the stained glass windows was moving.  Pastor Ole spoke to use about Jonah and his decision not to immediately follow Gods call to him.  It was a message I can relate too.  I am like Jonah, I have a tendency to turn away when God is calling.

The next highlight came when the service ended.  After church lunch was planned for the entire congregation. I was blown away that not one person left.  The sanctuary was miraculously converted to a dining room and within a short time we were all eating, breaking bread as one big family.

Although Mavuno Berlin may be small in size, they are big in fellowship.  At both the Reformation Day event and the lunch after church, participation was incredible.  Every life stage was represented. Elder age tend to the children, the middle age operated the church.  It truly is one big family.  I felt at home and as if I was part of the family.  It was amazing.

Tomorrow we have a packed scheduled visiting refugee camps and one of the central organization in Berlin which handles their entry process.  We are preparing to have our hearts broken.


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Mariners Church Berlin Team ready to launch!

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Berlin Team

With less than 24 hours to go, the team is making final preparations for our trip to Berlin. Our team consists of Mariners Church Care and Recovery pastor Jack West, volunteer Nina Kazibwe, and me (Ben Benjamin). Special thanks to Mariners Church Global Outreach Pastor Christian Mungai for his rapid response to make this trip happen.

Last night the team met with Pastor Mungai to review objectives, discuss key partnerships, and go over logistics.  By far the most important part of the discussion regarded how Satan is uniquely attacking each of us.  It is clear Satan does not want us to succeed and is shrewd in his attempt to derail us.  Fortunately, our God is bigger.  The team addressed each individual lie, and faithfully replaced them with the Truth of God.  We also were reminded that we are headed to the front lines and putting on the armor of God each day and night before we go to sleep is imperative to our trip.

Our Partners, at Mavuno Berlin have prepared an extensive itinerary which includes meetings with other church partners, non-profits, and of course extensive time at some of the primary refugee camps in Berlin.  As we meet new friends, hear stories, and reflect on how God is at work our mission is to tune our hearts to how we can partner with Him.

Even though we are uncertain as to what we will face, we are excited as to what lies ahead.  Although cultural differences may stand in our way, we have faith that there is hope in this desperate crisis.  As a church we are called to respond as we always do through partnerships and collaborative efforts.  This is our calling, and this is our mission.

by Ben Benjamin


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Vision Trip – Berlin 2015

It is my belief that God is in the business of restoration & healing.  This God loves EVERYONE, for He is love.  At no time in history has a humanitarian crises such as the one unfolding in the Middle East (especially Syria) and Europe ever existed like this.  We have such a unique opportunity to extend love and share the truth of the gospel in a divine way.

This is why I am so excited to be preparing for a vision trip to Berlin Germany Oct 30 through November 7th!  My mind has been absolutely obsessed with trying to find out how God is working through the Refugee Crises in Germany.  Our primary task is to discover ways that Mariners Church can be a part of what God is doing there.  So Cool!

Millions of refugees have experienced violence and evil, now we get to show them love and justice.  My prayer is that Jesus will gather these refugees in his arms, through our arms, and they will experience the love we all desperately need.  I am directed by what Jesus said in Mathew 25:40, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

I am in!  I pray you will join me.

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