A letter from Ryan and Alethia White serving in Germany
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Greetings and wishes for a blessed Advent season. We are resettling into life in Berlin after a busy period of travel. We spent the fall season visiting church communities and supporters on the West Coast of the U.S. and have been blessed by our contact with churches that are supporting and interested in the ministry in Berlin and also enjoyed catching up with old friends. Our minds were and continue to be with the situation in Berlin and across Europe as many new people are seeking to find a place that will accept them and where they can settle after leaving their home countries. We have been noticing the many new faces in Berlin and in our little church, as there are many Farsi-speaking people among the numbers recently arriving.
We are mindful that winter in Berlin and northern Europe means cold days and colder nights of waiting outside for those needing assistance. Please join us in prayer for these people, that they would soon find a warm and welcoming place to stay and for their immigration situation to find resolution. Please also join us in prayer for government leaders who are seeking solutions to the lack of sufficient structures in place, given the numbers of people in need.
Let’s not forget that for all the news and hype about the refugee “crisis” in Europe, there are many more people already refugees in countries neighboring Syria, for example. Please join us in prayer for countries like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey that have already received far many more people than what we are seeing in Europe and whose infrastructures and societies are also struggling to cope.
Given time and space away from our routine in Berlin during itineration in the U.S., we were able to reflect on our work there in a new way and we have determined that this coming year 2016 will be a critical year of discernment for us. The two Iranian men with whom we have so far been working alongside will retire at the end of this current year, and that means we in effect are taking their place. This sometimes seems a daunting task to us as we still have much to learn and will be relying on the help of those in the church.
One challenge is that we need to have leaders from the church community to come alongside us in order to make our worship together truly a collective effort, and to learn from their cultural and spiritual insights so that the church might continue. We also need some help still with translation, particularly for preaching, and hope this will be an opportunity for someone in the church to work closely with Ryan so that it will be mutually beneficial. Please join us in prayer that this next year will reveal to our church a deeper sense of identity and ability to work well together in our activities. We also hope that as a church we can explore new ways to be involved with helping those newcomers to Berlin.
For our family please pray that we will continue to become more involved in the city as we span two worlds much of the time, our daily life in German (Ariella’s kindergarten, grocery shopping, getting to know new friends, and meeting with Germans who are also involved in refugee work) and our work with the church and others in Farsi.
We want to take a moment to tell you about the funding issues we and other mission co-workers are experiencing due to greatly decreased funding sources. During our itineration period we learned that our position has been funded at 15 percent this year. As World Mission considers the future of mission co-worker positions, it is important that funding is in place. We ask that you would pray and consider if you might be able to increase the gift of your financial support for this year or to ask others who might be interested in supporting the ministry to Iranian and Afghani refugees in Berlin. If you are part of a church community please consider advocating within your congregation or with neighboring congregations to partner with us and other mission co-workers. We greatly appreciate your efforts and help in these ways.
As Advent is upon us we have much on our minds as we reintegrate with our communities and the ministry here in Berlin and as we consider the future of this work. However, we are reminded to take time and space to remember and anticipate the birth of the One who came to transform this world. Please join us in prayer that transformation is realized among those who are seeking a new place in our communities. We wish you a blessed and peaceful Advent and Christmas.
Ryan, Alethia, Ariella and Laila
The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 328
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