A Letter from Ryan and Alethia White, serving with the Iranian Presbyterian Church in Berlin
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“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people…”
~ Colossians 1:3-4
Having spent the summer visiting with different churches up and down the east coast of the United States, this is the message we heard repeatedly being offered to the church here in Berlin. In a time when it seems that we are constantly hearing of the divisions between peoples, deliberate or otherwise, it is encouraging to bear witness to bridges being built. A huge thank you to all those who hosted us this summer and special thanks for all the sweet birthday wishes along the way for Alethia and Ariella! We really enjoyed getting to know you better and visiting churches, both those familiar and those new to us. Perhaps the best part of our travels and conversations was the encouragement of connection, through prayer and action, to work together to offer hope in community together. Especially when people are dealing with the disorientation of displacement in a new country, the hope and safety that community can offer is a gift. In Colossians, Paul was also writing to a small church community, perhaps similar to our little church. He speaks to the “mystery” of Christ transforming, us and this transformation is a slow but important journey within our Berlin community as we develop an understanding of what it means to be believers in a foreign land.
We are already thinking ahead to this coming summer when we plan to be on the west coast during the summer school holiday (July 2020). It’s still early, but feel free to already be in contact with us if your church community may be interested in arranging a visit with us.
The past weeks have also been full trying to help our choir group, who we have mentioned already several times in letters or in person, prepare for a concert of different choir groups from the migrant churches in Berlin. This was held in the Kaiser Memorial Church, which was bombed during the Second World War and left in its half-destroyed condition as a reminder of the destruction of war, both the structural and human costs. Directly next to the bombed structure a more modern structure has been built with special attention to acoustics and is used for services and special events. There were eight choirs participating this year, which included seven different ethnic groups. Many wore traditional dress of some sort and all sang in their own language. The Iranian choir was second to sing, and despite lots of nerves they performed beautifully! They sang two songs and were accompanied by a keyboard and a friend who sang short solos interspersed within the songs. Afterwards they all seemed pleased with how it had turned out, and also relieved! Our girls were especially delighted to be there to cheer them on and handed out flowers to each choir member afterwards. It was a late night for all, but a very pleasant one, filled with truly gorgeous music. We hope the experience was a boost to the choir’s confidence and that they will have more opportunities to develop their music together.
As summer has now officially turned to fall, we turn our attention to reorganizing a children’s program during our worship services (we had to say goodbye to our children’s program organizer as she moved to a different city), to gathering with regional PC(USA) co-workers and staff for a conference together, to a much anticipated visit from grandparents, to celebrating fall traditions with the girls’ school and kindergarten, and to slowly moving towards Advent, which helps to ease the literal darkness of Northern Europe late in the year with brightness and festivities.
We thank you again for your support, expressed through financial gifts, written notes and emails, prayer, and encouragement. We hope that this fall season is a peaceful one for you and that we may each do what we can in our own sphere to offer hope and safety within our communities. May we also sing and cheer together!
Ryan, Alethia, Ariella, and Laila
Please read this important message from Sara Lisherness, interim director of Presbyterian World Mission
Dear friend of Presbyterian Mission,
Greetings in Christ! As the interim director of Presbyterian World Mission, I am grateful to have the opportunity to thank you for your continued support of PC(USA) mission co-workers.
The enclosed newsletter bears witness to some of the many ways in which God is at work in the world through long-standing relationships between global partners and the PC(USA).
These partnerships are nurtured and strengthened by the presence of mission co-workers in over 40 countries; you are an important part of this partnership too, as you learn about and share how our church is involved in global ministry; as you pray for our partners and mission co-workers; and as you take action to work with others for God’s justice, peace and healing.
I write to invite you to continue joining us in partnership in three ways. First, your prayers are always needed. Please pray that God will continue guiding the shared work of the PC(USA) and global partners as we engage together in service around the world. Pray, too, for mission co-workers, that they may feel encouraged in the work they are doing under the leadership of global partners.
Second, please consider making a year-end gift for the sending and support of at least one mission co-worker. There is a remittance form at the end of this letter and an enclosed envelope so that you can send in a special year-end gift.
Finally, I encourage you to ask your session to include one or more mission co-workers in your congregation’s mission budget for 2020 and beyond. PC(USA) mission co-workers’ sending and support costs are funded by the designated gifts of individuals and congregations like yours; your gifts allow Presbyterian World Mission to fulfill global partners’ requests for mission personnel.
Faithfully in Christ,
Sara Pottschmidt Lisherness
Director, Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry
Interim Director, Presbyterian World Mission
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Tags: Ryan and Alethia White
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