A letter from Ryan and Alethia White serving in Germany
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I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose help is in the Lord their God.
—Psalm 146: 2-5
It is easy to allow oneself to be cynical these days. In both U.S. politics and here in Europe it seems candidates seek power through the suggestion of fear. In turn, people find within themselves a growing distrust of their neighbors. Here in Germany what began as an open door policy in regard to the huge influx of migrants and refugees is now faltering and people are divided as to how to accept and integrate the masses of people now living here. Security is an issue upon which political parties on both sides of the ocean base their platform.
In regard to our work here in Berlin, we also find ourselves battling our own cynicism at times. Are we really doing enough? Does this work matter? Are people really helped by our presence and work here? What is the true intention of people who come to the church? Can our family integrate successfully into this culture? This last question is much easier for us than for those we work with, but still difficult at times. Because our own integration is supposedly easier, are we allowed to struggle with it? The questions go on.
In the midst of all these questions and feelings of cynicism, we seek to remember that our hope and motivation are not found in ourselves or in others, be it persons of perceived power or those with influence. As the above Psalm says, our hope must be in God, who is our ultimate redeemer and sustainer. All other sources in the end will disappoint us. But this should not lead us to an attitude of disengagement. Rather, we remember the words of Jesus, our Messiah/Savior, who called us to engage with our world. Being the hands and feet God uses to bring hope in the midst of despair.
On a weekly basis we see small signs of hope in the midst of uncertainty:
• the thankfulness from those for whom we write a letter of support as they prepare for their asylum interview;
• the genuine questions of those in the Bible study who wish to learn more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus;
• the declaration of those who have decided to be baptized here;
• recently the many people in the church who signed up in response to the request for volunteers to take on specific duties each Sunday in an effort to invite others to invest in the church as a whole;
• the desire of the social workers and church workers here to improve the conditions for those in the refugee camps;
• and the excitement of those who receive a positive answer to remain here in Germany.
We are thankful for the opportunity we have had in the last year to build a closer relationship with a family that has been in the church for a while and that is crucial in helping with the weekly service. They also have two daughters, one of them Ariella’s age. As both girls have learned more German in the past year their friendship has grown. We have been taking advantage of the summer weather to meet for a picnic at a park in between our two neighborhoods (on opposite sides of the city) and to bring the girls to church to play together. This family has been in Berlin for about four years and even though their daughters are in school and kindergarten here, integration continues to be a daily journey. Please join us in prayer for this family and for the many others who are just beginning this journey here in Germany and elsewhere.
As we continue our own journey of integration and the evolving scope of the work here with the church and refugee community we are thankful for so many who have supported us in prayer and with financial giving. We still remember the generosity of those we visited with during our itineration in the States last fall. Thank you to each of you!
As we receive our financial giving reports from PC(USA) World Mission we realize our position here is still underfunded and would like to appeal to everyone who is interested in our work here to consider giving a small amount on a regular basis. Those who already give regularly perhaps could invite others in your circle of friends to consider giving too. We are so thankful for those who do support us but we need a wider circle of support to sustain the ministry. And this goes beyond just the financial commitments from church communities. Together smaller amounts from individuals can broaden and deepen the amount of support.
We are excited to see where this work and the church here can go, but we need your help for our position to remain viable. Thank you for praying for us and for considering how to help continue support of the work here in Berlin.
With peace and hope,
Ryan, Alethia, Ariella, and Laila
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Tags: cynicism, hope
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