In the last few updates we have reported on how the refugee crisis in Europe has significantly impacted Germany. After asking God how we might respond, he led us to facilitate and lead German language classes for immigrants/refugees at the PastorenAtelier. The classes, on Wednesday evening and Friday morning, have been running since the end of August. Like the flow of refugees, the attendance fluctuates and some faces seem to have disappeared. The reasons for this are numerous, such as being transferred to a different shelter or deportation. Still, we see God's blessing on this effort, as there is a core of faithful attenders that we are slowly getting to know and building relationships with. The week before our first church service in November we invited the helpers and language class attendees to worship with us at KoelnProjekt. Our eyes filled with tears and our hearts with praise as we watched a family from Armenia, a couple with their son, descend the stairs into our meeting room. Just this last Saturday, two families attended the jazz concert at the PastorenAtelier.
That we were reaching out to refugees was clear to us from the beginning. However, God, in his infinite wisdom, appears to be making much more out of this effort. Several of the language class helpers are associated with our church but a number of them are from our part of the city, Nippes, or other parts of Cologne and were previously unknown to us. They simply answered the initial plea for helpers that was sent out. These German helpers are also watching us with curiosity and asking questions about our church and our faith. Additionally, two weeks ago Sue received a phone call from a young woman, Judith, who is a member of a small local ministry organisation that goes into two large brothels in an effort to bring prostitutes the Gospel and encourage them to break free of their life-style (prostitution is legal in Germany). Many of the women are from the former eastern communist countries, are trapped or even enslaved in their working situation, and some of them are illegal residents without residency or working visas. Learning the German language is one of the keys to breaking free from this bondage and so Judith asked if a young prostitute from Albania could join the class. We said yes, although we weren't sure how this would affect the dynamics of the class. We are still uncertain as to how that aspect is going to develop in the long term but we have assured Judith that we will do what we can to support her ministry efforts. As a result, through the language class for refugees we are now ministering to/with: 1. refugees; 2. previously unknown Germans; 3. prostitutes, and; 4. a previously unknown ministry group in Cologne. We are thrilled about this but it also feels like a big responsibility. Would you please pray that God would continue to bless this effort and give us the help, strength and wisdom that we need.
As we approach the holiday season and year’s end we want to express our gratefulness for your faithful prayer and financial support. It is through your generosity and sacrifice that we are able to be embedded in the German culture, responding quickly in the face of terrorism and the refugee crisis. We are praying that God would move many of our supporters to consider a special year end gift and/or increasing our support in 2016.
Finally, in the past we have also asked you to pray for a better meeting location for our church so that we have the space to provide an adequate children's program. This is becoming even more acute with the development of the German class. Additionally, we see a need for the church to be located near the PastorenAtelier, which is not the case now. Please pray for God to provide both a suitable location and the financing that will be needed.
With Thanksgiving, your Servants,
Sue and Jason