(Beavers, Millers, and Dan in front of the Berlin Wall)
Because of a cancellation on Wednesday in Dorsten, we headed to Berlin one day sooner than expected. Eric and I grew to love the no speed limit zones on the autobahn. There is nothing like the thrill of driving 180 km an hour without the worry of being pulled over!
We arrived in Berlin around 1:00 pm and immediately jumped right in with sightseeing. Berlin is such an historic city with more places to see than we had time for but we saw what we could. Our friend Kristi Walker led us to Potsdamer Platz where we saw part of the Berlin Wall that was left up, the Brandenberg Gate, Hitler’s bunker, and the Jewish Memorial. It was kind of eerie standing above the bunker where one of the most powerful men in history strategized, hid, and allegedly killed himself. It is hard to imagine so much evil generated from one individual.
Over dinner on Wednesday evening we met another part of Kristi’s team – the Good family. The Good’s also housed Eric, Lisa, and Dan while Gretchen & I stayed with Kristi. There were also two students from Baptist Bible College in Berlin with Kristi for the week as well. So poor Noah & Marley were stuck hanging out with the five of us for a few days. It was clearly evident that evening that both the Goods and Kristi were passionate about the city of Berlin. Their desire is to see many from this great city enter into the joy of salvation found in Jesus. I am so glad we were able to learn from them and hopefully assist them in some small way while we were there.
We squeezed in some sight seeing Thursday by heading to the town of Potsdam. We fell in love with this place. Beautiful castles, quaint little shops, and a gorgeous day made for a very enjoyable afternoon. As far as sight seeing goes, this was my favorite spot in Berlin (the bakeries may have helped too!).
On Thursday evening Dan, Noah, Marley, and Eric went to a gymnasium to play basketball with local students while Lisa, Gretchen, and I participated in a small group. Although the ballers said pickup basketball is done a little differently in Berlin than the U.S. (by different I mean they don’t pay strict attention to some basic rules of basketball like when you move you dribble, etc.), they had a good time meeting and interacting with other people. At the small group, I shared from Hebrews 10 about the freedom we have to access our Father anytime we want because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. When I was finished leading this discussion Lisa sang one of her songs. The small group was hosted by the Dye family. The Dyes make up the rest of Kristi’s team there in Berlin. Once again, it was evident the Dyes love the people of Berlin and desire to be used of God to build His Kingdom there.
Following the discussion I spoke with a woman in the small group that was honest enough with me to share a difficult situation she is currently going through. I told her thank you for being authentic with me and promised to pray for her as the Spirit led. I also told her that my friend Rob Stearns recently went through a similar time in his life and I thought his book Rise Up would assist her. I told her I was glad that she could be a part of a group like the one that met at the Dyes. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she expressed her joy and thankfulness of the people there. She said they supported her and it was so great to be a part of them. This group was a reminder to me that when Christ’s Bride, His Church, is alive and functioning the way He intended, lives are changed!
Before leading a couple of small groups on Friday we went to visit a church in Berlin that was bombed during WWII. The church was left as is after the war so people could experience a little of the devastation the war caused on Berlin. Once again we were brought face to face with the reality of war and its consequences. We also went to the Berliner Dome near Museum Island. Although the Dom in Cologne will always be my favorite, the Berliner Dome was quite amazing as well. I am always amazed at the architecture of these buildings. The paintings and incredible details blew me away. I could have sat in there for hours and it wouldn’t have been enough time.
On Friday evening, Dan led a pre-teen small group while the Beavers & Millers joined a small group at the Goods’ home. I led the group in a discussion centering around the words of Jesus found at the end of the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus commanded those disciples to “make disciples of all nations”. It was incredibly powerful for me to hear people from the United States, Germany, England, and Honduras talk about what it meant to “make disciples” in the city of Berlin. God, in His infinite wisdom, had people from all over the world living in Berlin to build His Kingdom there. His church is being mobilized to every square inch of this earth so that all can hear the message of “life” found in Jesus. I was humbled that evening of the calling on my life…to be a part of the movement of God which began the moment Eve bite into the fruit. God loves people so much He has stopped at nothing to bring every one of us back into a relationship with Him. Such love is overwhelming! The evening concluded with Lisa singing one of her songs and Eric leading us in a song or two. Music & the love of Christ crosses all cultural boundaries. I am always blessed to sing in another country. These moments give me just a little glimpse into the musical worship that awaits us in Christ’s presence someday in Heaven.
On Saturday morning we packed up once again, said goodbye to both old & new friends, and headed for our next adventure. This time we left without our friend Dan Occhiogrosso. Dan was catching a flight to Rome later that day to support his dad while he ran the Rome Marathon. He was also going to join in with a church in Italy he has spent much time with. It was great to have Occhy (what everyone that knows Dan calls him) with us for most of the trip. Dan has a passion and drive to make a difference in this world that I have only witnessed in a few people. Dan is the type of guy that pushes me to make the most of every day. Dan doesn’t waste moments and I don’t want to either. Life is short and our possibilities for impact are few so lets live life to the fullest each day. Thanks for the reminder Occhy!
(the team with our friend & tour guide – Kristi Walker)
(Jamie reading about the history of the Berlin Wall)
(the bombed out church)
(The Berliner Dome)