When Kev and I touched down in Berlin airport on Thursday 18th May, we were filled with excitement and adrenaline. Unfortunately for Kev, he was now experiencing the warning my wife had given a day earlier that traveling with me is like traveling with a child, wandering around without a care and no knowledge of where I’m going – quite happy for Kev to work out how to get to where we’re going.
Kev did an expert job of traversing through this foreign land and leading us to our first checkpoint – Königs Wusterhausen – arriving just in time to witness locals making their way to a football match with their ‘boom-boxes’ blasting out 90s dance music. During this time, we had an impromptu visit to the town of Halbe where we visited a mass WW2 memorial reminding us of the difficult and horrific past that still can be felt hanging over this beautiful country.
From there, our friend and tour guide Thomas, took us onwards to our final destination, Heidesee. An idyllic retreat located South East to the city of Berlin, nestled within the forest backing onto lake Dolgen See with its still waters and island abundant with noisy cormorants– not ideal for a peaceful morning devotion.
For three consecutive mornings, Kev and I had the uttermost joy in hanging out with Welcome Church’s amazing children, sharing times of worship, fun, mess, craft and games together. For the duration of our time leading, we focused our plan our John 14:6, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” Each morning we took one of the three claims Jesus made, diving into them in greater detail to really show the children who Jesus is and how that affects us as children of God. Fortunately for us, all bar one of the children spoke English (much better than we do) so it was great joining together in worship. It wouldn’t be proper children’s work without making a fool of ourselves, whether that meant poorly singing along to worship songs in German or reviving Von Brainius and Von Cranius Junior, sporting a penguin outfit and riding a dragon (photos awaited) in front of the church for the talent show.
On the last morning with the children, we led them in a response as we recapped the verse in its entirety as well as focussing on the final truth statement of Jesus being ‘The Life’. We looked at the verse in the wider context noticing how Jesus describes Himself as the gate and as the shepherd of the sheep pen. In response, we went outside to a cross that had been erected and having given the children their names on a sticky label, Kev and I formed a gate. We told them that this was a prophetic act, and should they wish to either respond to Jesus for the first time or reaffirm their commitment to Him, they walked through the ‘gate’ and stuck their name on the cross. After this we spoke about how Jesus wants us to experience life to the full and in abundance with Him (John 10:10). To demonstrate this, we gave all the children a bottle of Coke and tablets to drop in and watch the Coke erupt out of the bottle… I think they got the point.
From my perspective, it’s really encouraging to see this church thriving and although being much smaller in number, there is a clear and homely sense of family. They truly are a church who live up to their name not only did we experience a warm welcome, but I was amazed at the number of nationalities present; not only English and German but American, Paraguayan, Argentinian, South African, Nigerian, Surinamese and I’m sure many more that I didn’t find out.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about diversity of the body of the church and how encouraging it was to see everyone playing their part. From an incredibly talented chef and team of helpers, to different members bringing prophetic words, tongues and songs throughout our time together and then the teenagers we had supporting us with our children’s work. On the final evening together, we had an amazing time of prophecy and worship and it’s clear that God is certainly establishing His church of which the gates of hell (which they’ve certainly experienced over the last few years) will not overcome (Matthew 16:18).
by Will Norris