Sadly, my eight-month deployment in “K-Town,” Germany—serving as vacancy pastor at Kaiserslautern Evangelical Lutheran Church (KELC)—has ended. Last Sunday, October 17, KELC’s permanent pastor, Rev. Nathaniel Scott Jensen (center, in chasuble) was installed. But also what joy—not only because that loving congregation now has a permanent pastor but also because Rev. Jensen and his wife Emma are newlyweds! Serving at KELC has been such a blessing, as I was privileged to follow in the footsteps of KELC’s former pastor, Rev. Joe Asher, and also to fill a vacancy in this trying COVID era, with my ministry there beginning online, as I held services, preached, and taught while still living in Oklahoma this past spring. My deployment to K-Town also coincided with the historic arrival of well over 10,000 Afghan evacuees at Ramstein Airbase, a humanitarian relief effort in which many KELC members were actively involved—as Red Cross helpers, technicians, or simply providing acts of Christian love to people who were hungry and exhausted.
Next week Lula and I will travel to Lutherstadt Wittenberg, where we will meet Riga Luther Academy students from 12 countries during a one-week intensive literally across the street from the church in which Martin Luther served. Lula will be very busy, setting up and monitoring all the technology necessary for in-person and online classes. After that I will head up to Hamburg to begin in-person ministry with Iranian and Afghan migrants, all the while continuing to teach online at Riga Luther Academy.
All this interaction with a variety of cultures and nations reminds us of what St. Paul teaches in Philippians 3:20. Christians’ true identity is not indicated by our passport—a temporary allegiance—but by our being eternal members of Christ’s family: “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”