The past three weeks have been a fast and furious sprint for all of us here at European Initiative. I just arrived back to Berlin, Germany from a 14-day ministry trip that found me in the 80-degree sunshine weather of Texas, and then transitioning to the 50-degree rain and drizzle of London. In some ways the differences in weather are symbolic of the spiritual climates between America and Europe.
The stirring song “Everything” begins to play over European Initiative’s sound system as a group of Americans begin to portray the love of Jesus through a powerful open-air drama. Bystanders stop to watch as the drama unfolds in the busy square of Alexander Platz.
Some things reign in Spain and some things don’t. Soccer certainly reigns as FC Barcelona just won the European Champions League. Tapas reign, just check out the menu at many of Madrid’s restaurants. Siestas reign too, every day from about 2pm-5pm. But what about Jesus? Does He reign in Spain?
European Initiative has developed a partnership with Ignite International, a USA-based sports missionary organization founded by Judy Fox. Upon learning about the immense spiritual needs in Europe, Judy invited the Indiana Wesleyan University girls’ volleyball team to Berlin.
For several years, European Initiative has cared for the needs of the “least of these” in Europe, the Romanian Gypsies. Tucked away in the remote valleys of Transylvania, are endless stream of Gypsy villages. In these villages the mode of transportation is an ox-drawn cart. Plumbing and other 21rst century comforts are only a distant dream.
EI invited a team of Americans connected with Glory of Zion Ministries in Denton, Texas, for an outreach to Romania. Deborah Landwerlen, who had been to Romania on missions trips more than a dozen times previously, led the team. She was well suited to lead the American team comprised of young adults from Georgia and Texas.
If you want an out-of-the-box Christian evangelism experience, try preaching about Jesus at the Wave Gothic Festival in Leipzig, Germany. More than 20,000 Goths from across Europe descend upon the East German city every spring. If you’re Goth, it is the place to be; if you are an evangelical Christian, attending the Goth festival is not the usual church picnic.
Berlin is a peculiar dichotomy of beauty, culture and industrial might still marred by a palatable national shame. The wounds and the shame that Germany has suffered over the last century foster a distinct mistrust that stands opposed to the gospel of Christ.
“Coca-Cola!” This was one of the many responses given to me after asking Germans about the true meaning of Christmas. I almost couldn’t believe my ears! Christmas has become so commercialized and watered down that most don’t even know why it’s called, “Frohe Weihnachten.” (“Happy Holy Night,” in English) Instead, many Germans envision cute white polar bears drinking a refreshing Coke rather than the Savior of the world in a manger.