Posted by jones on October 29th, 2016 | 6 comments
This month we are excited to share our friend Holger’s testimony with you. Many of you have prayed for Holger for years now. We’ve also shared with you how we have been active in leading and developing a summer ministry called Family and Friend’s Camp. Holger and his family have been a part of that camp every year it has happened, and it has played a big role in their spiritual journey. This year there were so many interested in attending the camp that they held one Family and Friend’s Camp in the summer and one during the Fall School Break. Holger and his family attended the Fall Break session last week. The camp director asked Holger to share his story. He said, “What do I have to say that would be interesting to other Christians? Christians that have know God so long…Christians that have experience with God or have experienced His help during crises. I don’t have any of that. I am just normal.” In the end the director convinced him, and he sent us the following text of his “normal” story, which we have translated for you. Thank you so much for the years of prayer and support for the C&MA ministry in Berlin. Lives, like Holger’s, are being changed by the work of the Holy Spirit, and we are privileged to get to be a part of it. Please read and be encouraged!
I grew up in Thüringen, not all that far from Eisenach (where Luther translated the Bible). Despite that, faith played no role in our lives. My mother would say, there is a God and I believe in Him…my father would say: that is nonsense. Mother would say, no, God does exist. Father: complete nonsense. In school they told me about Marx, Engels and Lenin. No one said that was nonsense. There were kids that went to confirmation classes, but they were considered exotic. Not like martians with green heads, but somehow a bit different. I liked them, but I decided to go along with the masses and not stick out. I thought: I can’t see God, so why should He exist? If you exist, then let me recognize you…I doubted it…I had good reasons. I was doing great. I was well liked. My family loved me. I was good in school and sports. I was always the best or one of the best. I felt strong. What could I need God for? I was making it on my own quite well. If God did exist, He had enough other stuff to do.
That is how I went through life. Studies, Apprenticeship, Degrees. Always the best or at least one of the best. But there were also small set backs. My girlfriend had someone else, not me. That was devastating. The mourning didn’t last long, because single life didn’t suit me. I attended a “singles party” for the first time and I met “her”. It was her first time at such a party as well, and she’d only come looking for a boyfriend for a friend of hers. Instead she met me. Just a coincidence?
We fell in love with each other. She is smart and beautiful. We have a son. He is smart and handsome. We have a daughter, she is also smart and beautiful. Just a coincidence?
Christians cross our path. They are nice. They open their arms to us. Ask us to come with them to church. Completely without obligation. Sure, it can’t hurt anything. We start attending. Although they are younger than we are, they seem to be so mature, so serene, so confident. Why?
They tell us about their lives with God. At the beginning I still think – that’s nonsense. But I begin to start to think about what they are saying. I begin to question myself. Was everything coincidence? Or is it possible that someone was directing my path? Possibly helping me, although I didn’t ask for help?
That so many coincidences, so much luck simply happens, that perception began to seem impossible. I began to look into God, read about Jesus. I attended our camps in Poland (our Family and Friend’s Camp), went to church, attended a faith course (Emmaus). I feel I am still a “faith dummy” but I notice that these things help me to be open.
God helps me…
To see my mistakes and my flaws.
To see that I wasn’t as super as I thought I was.
To see that I desperately needed forgiveness. I needed forgiveness from my wife, who I didn’t support enough in a time when she needed my help the most. I lacked empathy to recognize her hardship. My antenna was so strongly focused on myself and my goals, that I was endangering my happiness with my smart and beautiful family.
But I receive help. From my mentor Mike; from Regine and Holger (an older Christian couple who works at the Family Camp); from Don, the pastor from the USA who is my good friend although he is currently across the pond he’s still so close to me.
And from God!
It is becoming very apparent in our lives. For example this spring: My wife was mourning the loss of her mother. She was very low and needed medical leave to attend a counseling and rehab facility (with a focus on rheumatology). Unfortunately the first availability in the program was in 6 months. But it was obvious that she couldn’t wait that long. We prayed in our home group. The very next day she received a call that a place had opened up and she could go that week.
Was that a coincidence?
No, that is God.
That is how He is and how He will always be.
Please continue to pray for Holger and his family. Pray for them as they continue on their own journey with Jesus. And please pray that their story affects many other lives for the sake of the Kingdom of God!