Confused about how to evangelize? Start here.

What does it mean to evangelize? I hear a lot of people talk about planting seeds in the hearts of non-believers. We do this in a lot of ways: the ministry of living a Christian life out loud, the ministry of service, the ministry of hospitality. These things can go a long way in providing testimony of a changed life through Christ, and they can certainly plant seeds in the hearts of those who don’t yet know the love of Christ, making them curious about what a life following Jesus really means.
But at what point do those people turn curiosity into commitment?
In John 4:34-38, Jesus says, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
This mini-lesson in evangelism doesn’t just come out of the blue. Jesus had been speaking to the woman at the well, and he planted seeds in her heart to change her attitude toward him right away:
1. He spoke to her, even though she was a Samaritan, which was practically unheard of for a Jewish person to do.
“The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” John 4:9
2. He offered a testimony of the fullness of a Christian life.
“‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?’ Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'”
‭‭John‬ ‭4:11-14‬ ‭
3. He lovingly, but clearly, addressed the ways her life and her sins were failing to give her an abundant life.
“The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’ He told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back.’ ‘I have no husband,’ she replied. Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.'”
‭‭John‬ ‭4:15-18‬ ‭
I actually think most Christians can do one — or even all– of these things really well. But what we miss is what comes next in this exchange: we actually have to say out loud that you must believe in Jesus to have eternal life.
“‘Woman,’ Jesus replied, ‘believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.’ The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’ Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you—I am he.'”
‭‭John‬ ‭4:21-26‬
Jesus boldly declares that he is the Messiah. He is the one sent from God. And better yet, she believes him and goes and tells other people what she discovered through Jesus Christ! She wouldn’t have done that had she not been told directly that Jesus was, in fact, the answer.
So how does that translate into your daily life as someone who wants to reach others for Christ? I have some practical tips for your consideration.
1. Don’t count on others to be the ones reaping the harvest. I know a lot of people who will depend on “seed planting” because the don’t fancy themselves an evangelist. But we are all called to make disciples, not just our pastors or bolder Christians. The reality is that you have access to many non-believers in your circle, ones that your pastors will never meet, which means that God has brought them into your life to give them an opportunity not just to see Christ through you, but to know him and meet him through you.
2. Stop being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I think a lot of us are hesitant to take that last step of evangelism and actually lead someone to the Lord because they are embarrassed that they will be seen as a “bible beater” or “Jesus freak.” I get it. It can be tough and feel a little silly at first. But the reality is that if we want to see those people in heaven one day, the gospel must be shared with them, and if we are too embarrassed to share the good news with them, we are accountable for their salvation (or lack thereof).
3. Know what the Bible says about salvation through Christ. There is so much to say about what the Bible says about Jesus’ death and resurrection as an eternal atonement for our sins (literally a whole book’s worth!), and if you are going to lead people to this realization, you need to know what Jesus’ sacrifice means. The way to learn is to read your Bible, study what it says, and understand what its promises entail. If you don’t know where to start, ask your pastor or another mature Christian to help you. Allow yourself to be discipled. This will not only help you understand what Jesus did for us, but it will equip you to one day disciple other believers. Nobody should stay a baby Christian for long, so don’t excuse away your spiritual immaturity by neglecting God’s word.
4. Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you courage. A lot of people wonder about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives (which is another blog in and of itself), but we can pray for God to send his spirit to give us the strength and the words to communicate the message of Christ to others. Let’s not just pray for so-and-so to come to know Christ; rather, let’s pray that we would have the courage, opportunity, and right words to tell those we love that they need the saving grace of Jesus.
We are praying for you to start seeing yourself as an evangelist and seizing new opportunities to not only plant seeds, but to reap the harvest. 

Our first Deutsch-iversary!

We are just going to be super cliché here. Time flies. One year ago, we stepped off of a plane and started our new lives as church planting missionaries in Germany, and it has been a whirlwind ever since.

There is so much to be celebrated from this past year, so we have gathered a collection of things we are proud to have been a part of. Here goes!

  • We knew our lives would be a bit more cosmopolitan here, but we had no idea just how much. Since we arrived in Germany, we have developed relationships with people from Germany, Iran, Australia, Tunisia, Syria, Turkey, Italy, South Korea, Afghanistan, China, Sudan, Portugal, Brazil, Poland, and Kosovo. It is absolutely mind-boggling, and now we really appreciate that “every tribe and tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
  • We have completed four language courses and some private tutoring, and we are all at a pretty high level of fluency, especially considering that we have only been here a year. We are also confident communicating the foundational aspects of Christianity in German, which is leading to more and more conversations about Jesus. Learning German has been a source of fun rather than stress on most occasions.
  • We have quickly planted roots in our local community. Cade has blossomed in the local Kindergarten, Nick is coaching Cade’s soccer team (which is also incredibly international), and Mallorie is part of a mom’s group with Clara.
  • God has blessed us with meaningful friendships with Christians and non-Christians. One of our fears before we came was that we would be lonely and wanting for intimate relationships, especially for Mallorie, the resident extrovert in our marriage. However, God has richly provided wonderful people for us to befriend, and our social calendar is always full.

Now we want to give you a peek into what the next year will look like for us. Some plans are really coming together, and we look forward to more specific vision casting in the future.

  • We will continue working with Christus Gemeinde Laatzen and Christus Gemeinde Hannover in different capacities. With the Laatzen church, we look forward to expanding home groups and working on a curriculum for the groups to study. With the Hannover church, we look forward to serving in different capacities, but especially in a massive community outreach undertaking in the form of a musical comedy production. Nick is leading the choir for the play, and Mallorie will be playing the part of the Queen of England. Yes, there will be pictures and video.
  • We are shoring up on our knowledge of other religions. We are encountering a lot of other religions here, particularly Buddhism/New Age and Islam, and we want to be able to minister to those people more effectively. We anticipate this being a big focus during our next year of ministry, especially considering some of the relationships we have begun to develop.
  • A lot of Christians don’t know how to share the gospel. That’s something that will drive our future here. Be on the lookout for a post about this in the next week!
  • What we have come to learn about life in Germany is that it is very relationally-driven. Your ability to speak candidly about important things is in direct correlation with how close your relationship to someone is. Because of that, we want to focus on the block where we live. We want to grow a community that becomes the core group of people with whom we do life: from grocery shopping to double date nights to going to the park to throw Frisbee.

This is just a glimpse into our year past and our year ahead, and we are so excited to be a part of what God is doing here in Germany.

We want to say a special thank you to everyone who has supported us in the last year (and the year before as we prepared to come here), whether it was through prayer, encouragement, or financial support.

Right now we are still about $400 short of what we really need every month. God has richly blessed us in this area, and since we arrived, almost every month has been covered by unexpected gifts. We are constantly blown away by his goodness. We would like to ask two things of you:

1) Would you give a special Deutsch-inversary gift today? This money will go into our ministry account to be used for things like training and bigger expenses (ministry opportunities, reporting trips, etc.). If you would like to do that, you can click here and donate right now. All donations are tax-deductible through our organization, Kontaktmission.

2) Would you become a monthly partner in our ongoing ministry here in Germany? No amount is too big or too small, but it adds up to keeping us here on the field. The money our monthly partners give goes directly toward our salary here, pays for all the day-to-day ministry we do, particularly the hospitality ministry that is our focus right now as we build relationships, and helping Kontaktmission manage all the nitty gritty details (i.e. taxes) so that we can focus on the gospel. Again, these donations are tax-deductible, and it is super easy to sign up. Just send in this form with a voided check, and your donations can be automatically deducted each month. If you’d rather not do an automatic deduction, you can click here for other ways to donate.

So as we celebrate today, we want to say, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” We love being here and sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we couldn’t do that without each of you. Here’s to many more!

A day in the life

When we first began doing research into missionary life, one of the questions we asked missionaries we met most often was: “What does your day actually look like?” We received a wide variety of answers, which was both helpful and unhelpful for our overly-analytical brains. Needless to say, there were two big take-aways that we heard over and over again (and have proven to be true for us): 1) missionaries need to be self-starters, and 2) missionaries need to be flexible. 
Our schedule has been in a constant state of flux since we arrived in Germany, largely because of langauge school and Cade’s activities. Still, we wanted to give you a peek into what our lives look like right now and share some of the things coming up that will need to find their place in our schedule.

Monday mornings: While Cade goes to kindergarten, Mallorie and Clara go to “Spielkreis,” which is a community play group. Nick meets with people and studies German. 

Monday afternoons: Mallorie takes Cade to piano lessons, and Nick goes to langauge school. 

Monday evenings: This is one of the only evenings where we don’t have a lot going on as a family, so we try to take it easy and enjoy each other’s company. 

Tuesday mornings: Cade goes to kindergarten, Mallorie meets a Christian girlfriend for coffee and laughter, and Nick meets with Eide to discuss church planting and the “Hauskreis,” or home group, that will meet later that day in Laatzen, the suburb of Hannover where we live.  

Tuesday afternoons: Nick goes to language school while Mallorie stays with the kids. Soon Mallorie will be teaching English as a second language on Tuesday afternoons to some new friends preparing to move to America. 

Tuesday evenings: We eat dinner together before Nick goes to Hauskreis. Then he is gone, and Mallorie puts both kids to bed, which is like herding cats. 

Wednesday mornings: Cade goes to kindergarten, Mallorie studies German (alone without tiny people… woot!), and Nick hangs with Clara. 

Wednesday afternoons: Nick goes to langauge school, and immediately after it is finished, he picks Cade up so they can go to “Fußball” (soccer) training. Nick is one of the two trainers, and that role has already opened up a lot of doors in our community. 

Wednesday evenings: These are basically a frantic sprint to bedtime! Nick and Cade don’t get home from soccer until around 6:30, so it gets crazy! 

Thursday morning: You guessed it! Cade does, in fact, go to kindergarten. This is the other big study day for Mallorie, which means Nick is hanging with Clara. Oftentimes this day is flexible, and we will meet with people when necessary. 

Thursday afternoons: While Nick is in language school, Mallorie usually plans a play date with one of Cade’s kindergarten friends. We have gotten to know so many families this way! 

Thursday evenings: This is one of the nights where we host people pretty often, but soon it will be the night when the choir Nick is directing meets. More on that later. 

Friday mornings: Cade talks for thirty minutes straight on the commute to kindergarten (we take a train and then walk) about the inner-workings of kindergarten politics. Mallorie goes to Spielkreis with Clara, and Nick almost always meets someone for coffee and conversation. 

Friday afternoons: Nick gets a break from language school on Fridays, but not from soccer! He and Cade train every Friday afternoon. 

Friday evenings: See Wednesday evening. Rinse and repeat. 

Saturdays: Saturdays are usually taken up by either a soccer tournament (did you guys know Germans are super into soccer?) or hosting people, and oftentimes it is both. 

Sundays: We attend church in Hannover, and it is great. The people there and at the Laatzen Hauskreis have become our new church family. Sometimes Nick plays in the band, and he will preach more later this year. Sunday afternoons and evenings are either spent as a family, hosting people, or being hosted by someone. 

As you can see, the bulk of our time is spent learning the langauge or building relationships. That’s the most effective thing we can be doing right now in order to bring people to Jesus in the long-term.

We have mentioned it in other places, but it’s worth mentioning here as well that the church in Hannover is producing a musical comedy in November. Nick is directing the choir, and Mallorie will play the part of the Queen (yes, the one from England). That will start taking up quite a bit more of our time. Other things that are coming up that will impact our schedule include: Mallorie taking another language  course, Nick preaching and leading more in German, people visiting from America, our organization’s yearly meeting, and Cade starting “Grundschule” (elementary school). 

It’s going to be a busy year, but we are thrilled to be part of what God is doing here in Germany! 

What Heaven Will Be Like

Way back in the day, when people all spoke the same language, they decided to build a tower to the heavens by their own power and craftiness. And God scattered them by confusing their language, because of how great we inherently assume we are (Genesis 11).

Thousands of years later, the spirit of God allowed the first disciples to understand and communicate in many languages, signaling that the church age is one where the message of the Gospel is meant to reunite all the nations of the world under one Kingdom, this time rightfully understanding our dependence on God (Acts 1-2).

We are here this week in the Kontaktmission Headquarters in southern Germany, and we are reminded of how spectacular God’s tapestry of nations really is.

The event this week is a once a year new member orientation. And this year’s 18 new families are encapsulated in the following chart:

2016-11-10-10.42.36.png.png

In addition to the four languages on this chart, we also had Portuguese and French represented, but not spoken in the room!

ALL of this diversity is represented by just 18 missionaries (12 different families represented).

In the room, we have German as the primary language, and English being translated up front. Behind me is a Spanish translator speaking into a headphone system, and to my right is a Polish translator sitting between a Polish husband and wife, translating live as we go. It’s a loud room, but it’s amazing.

 

We are reminded here why we wanted to partner with Kontaktmission to begin with. This map shows all the places KM has sent missionaries (blue), what countries have sent missionaries to Europe through KM (green), and where these other KM outposts (like KMUSA), have sent missionaries on their own (in red).

 

This terrible shot of a powerpoint slide, this RIGHT HERE, is Kontaktmission in a nutshell. BLUE LINES = Missionaries sent FROM our Germany office. GREEN LINES = Missionaries coming TO Germany FROM other parts of the world, and the RED LINES = different arms of KM in different nations, sending their missionaries to other nations!

Even since we came in March, they have added Spanish as an official language (to the already-official German, English, and Russian). This is only possible because the presence in South America is growing so rapidly.

 

A Good Reminder

This whole week is simply a good reminder if how international—and universal—the Gospel is. We come from a very strongly Christian country in America, but we do not have a monopoly on the Gospel. In fact, we are commanded to take that Gospel to other nations! And that command doesn’t come to us as Americans, but as Christians!

It is such a blessing to have such unity in the Kingdom of God. And it is a good reminder of what heaven will be like.

But also, it’s snowing.

It’s definitely going to be snowing in heaven. 🙂

Mach’s gut!

Nick

Cultural Quirks

Hey, guys! I have been reflecting lately on some of the cultural differences that we have experienced and appreciated, and here are some of my favorites). Enjoy!

  • Germans are awesome at picnicking. You wouldn’t think having a picnic could be an art, but with German friends, it is. Everyone brings delightful homemade goodies, huge blankets, and a laissez-faire attitude that makes having a picnic with Germans incredibly enjoyable. It is hard to pinpoint what it is exactly that makes them so special, but trust me when I say they are.
  • Facebook is a whole different beast in Germany. Not only is it not nearly as popular, but people also rarely use their full names. People value privacy here a lot more than in the U.S., and they behave on Facebook accordingly.
  • It is also worth mentioning in the realms of tech-y stuff that all Germans are fluent in at least one other language: emojis. In America, we would occasionally throw in a friendly winky face, a heart, or something to that effect. If you really wanted to get crazy though, you’d throw in animals and party themed stuff. When Germans text (which is exclusively through WhatsApp, by the way), they are professionals at communicating everything through emoji. It is adorable and awesome. Sorry if you get a text from us now with a billion faces, cakes (because Germany), and clovers. We have been inoculated to the language of the people.
  • Public transportation and biking are wonderful. We live right on a UBahn (like a cable car) line. Not only is it surprisingly quiet, but it is also really convenient. When we aren’t taking the train, we are riding our bikes as a family. It is totally normal to see kids as young as three riding alongside their parent; interestingly, it is totally normal to see older people riding their bikes everywhere. When we aren’t riding our bikes or the train, we are walking. Most things are pretty close together, which makes staying active really easy and fun. Suffice it to say that my Fitbit and my pre-pregnancy jeans both love the extra activity (insert emoji of your choice here… you have to learn sometime).
  • Money is a fickle friend here in Germany, or at least the access to money is. Most places don’t take credit cards (and almost NEVER American credit cards), so you really do need to have the money to pay for things you want to buy. German stores are also very strict about EC card (debit card) usage. You have to sign the back of your card, and EVERY cashier at EVERY store will watch you sign the receipt to make sure your signature matches. That means Nick can’t use my card, and I can’t use his. This is quite different from American card usage. For example, when Nick called to order driving records, the woman on the phone didn’t ask any questions when he gave her my card information. I wasn’t even home when he called to verify over the phone or something. Honestly, both systems have their pros and cons, but I don’t mind that the Germans err a bit more on the side of safety.

Germany is a lovely place with very kind people, and we are enjoying acculturating very much!