Tuesday, June 21, 2011

SMR Berlin Team Memories

I asked the team if they would be willing to share some of their memories of the trip, especially the things they saw God do, both through their ministry, but also in their lives while in Berlin.  Here is the first of them from Leanna.

Thank you to everyone who supported and prayed for us on our trip to Berlin. God definitely answered prayer above and beyond what we expected. Overall, logistics went very smoothly between our flights, transportation around Berlin, health and strength for the most part, no one getting e coli, sound equipment and instrument rental (the unexpected love offerings taken at many of the churches exactly covered some unexpected expenses from equipment rental/transport). God was at work in every detail! Thank you for your prayers!

Also evident was that God used our music. I was amazed at how well-received bluegrass was! Since we travelled almost completely by train, at every opportunity “the guys and Rebecca” would get out their instruments and play. The normal German demeanor is reserved, and uninterested in people trying to be interesting. However, a visible change came over people within hearing the first few notes. They smiled, watched, tapped their feet, danced (the drunk ones), took video, asked us about what this music was, who we were and where we were playing. Some people even missed their stop so they could listen longer. In a city known for its precision in music, it was intimidating for us but also humorous that people would enjoy such a freestyle sound. Needless to say, the instrumentalists started getting blisters with all the playing they did, and Michael came up with the idea to coat their fingers in super glue so they could keep going! 

Our daily schedule looked like this: awake at around 9, get breakfast in the hotel (let me tell you about this - hot buttered rolls, nutella, hard boiled eggs, cold cuts, muesli, cereal, yogurt,  delectable coffee, juice), then split up to sight see or relax or sometimes we played on the street in a  neighborhood where we would give a concert later on, Randy Dodd, our guide would bring us somewhere local and yummy for lunch, head back to the hotel to change and be at the concert location by about 4 or 5, concert at 6 or 7, pack up and talk to people until about 10, then dash around trying to find someplace open late for dinner, get back to the hotel 12 to 1 am and crash after charging electrical devices. Randy said that of the 65 teams he has led, ours worked the hardest.

Now the best part... the spiritual impact. The music got people in the door and gave us credibility, then we gave our testimonies between songs, with the help of a translator, and we found many that many people related to the hopelessness, pain, and wrestling with life events that we described in our own pasts. We explained these were the very things that made us cry out to God and that He answered us in our need. Now those people know a little more about the God that is waiting to hear them too. The pastor ended by giving a short gospel presentation in German while everyone paid close attention. At the first church, about 150 came to hear us and 17 asked for more information about being forgiven - a pretty big deal for a congregation of about 50! The night I gave my testimony, afterwards I met a girl my age named Jessica, whom I could see had been crying. I found out that was her first time to church (her mom was a new believer and had been trying to bring her). She was moved by my story. We all prayed with her and her mom and we saw them again, plus her friend and sister, at 3 more of our concerts. Please pray for Jessica, that the conviction and need she felt then, would not dissipate with time. I am in correspondence with Jessica and her friend. 

Another highlight was at our outdoor concert. There was a member of that church with worsening MS and confined to a wheel chair, but he loved all of our music. Our last song was “I’ll Fly Away” and a few people started dancing with him as he twirled around in circles and waived his crooked hands. I bet he looks forward to that day when he meets his Savior in a new perfect body! They asked us to play that song once again and this time EVERYONE was up and dancing and singing! Like, 200 people, most of whom were not even from the church! It was a very surreal moment to be worshipping God with bluegrass music at an outdoor BBQ in a land with such a history and with people we just met and feel totally at home. I hope that’s what heaven is like. 

There were many more wonderful moments and evidence of the prayers of so many, upholding us. So thank you all! If you need something more to pray for, the small but faithful churches and pastors we left behind could use your prayer. They have different challenges than our pastors and are sometimes in danger. Atheistic culture is not easy to reach and leaders are subject to burnout and discouragement. Some of these dedicated servants are Aaron Bowes, Paul Rostig, Martin Wahl, and Stephen (I don’t know his last name). Most of the pastors were non-native of Germany. Pray that God would raise up more faithful men from within the culture to lead, and that the novel message of hope would fall on thirsty soil.


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