During the past weeks in Berlin I have learned a lot about this city, enough to know that I have barely scratched the surface on what there is to know and comprehend about these people that I walk past and share the many trains, trams and buses with everyday. One of the themes that I have very quickly learned and felt keenly is the lack of people with a personal faith in Jesus Christ. The fact that many Berliners go their entire lives without meeting one Christian is so foreign to my North American-trained brain. I don’t know who said it first, but there is a well known quote that many of the staff here have said and that is that “the people of Berlin have forgotten that they have forgotten God.” The city of Berlin is an unreached people group, with less than 2% of the population identifying as Christian, and unfortunately, one of the cultural aspects of living in Berlin is that you have to earn the right to speak. Relationships move slowly, and people are not ready to receive the Gospel until you have earned the right – proven that you care about them as a person, as a human being, and that your love for them is not conditional on their response to it.
In this reality, it can be very easy to be discouraged. The people of Berlin are not asking the same questions that I’m used to such as “Is God real?”. Instead they’re asking questions like “So what if he is real? Why should I care? How does that really affect my life?”. I’ve been walking all over this city, seeing a people who are desperately searching for answers, but on principle, will never allow God to be among the possibility of answers. This is a city that cultivates searching and experimenting to find “self”. You see people searching, discovering, and promoting “self”. The question is very much “what’s in it for me? Is this going to bring pleasure or benefit to me?”. A few of the fellow believers that I have met while in Berlin have expressed how they handle this reality with caution – not to hide their faith, but instead to build a relational foundation that allows for those deeper conversations and exchange of opinions on both sides.
So I’m currently wrestling with that line. I can see how easy it would be for me to despair because things move so very slowly here, it can be hard to see and be reminded that God is at work in this city. As I think through these themes, I’ve been having that refrain from “It is Well” (Bethel Music) playing through my head. “Through it all, through it all my eyes are on you. Through it all, through it all it is well!” It IS well. I’ve needed to remind myself often that it is not our responsibility as Christians to save. It is our responsibility to make disciples and build relationships with intentionality, and unfailing patience and love. God is the one who saves and moves in people’s hearts. Man, is that ever encouraging! And so cool to hear those stories – God is moving powerfully in this city and it is incredible to witness!
Prayer Requests: Please pray for continued health and safety for the team as we head into the last two weeks here in this city for this trip.