In the early 1500s, Martin Luther rediscovered the Gospel in Wittenberg, Saxony, which today lies in the Federal Republic of Germany. Despite such a strong presence of faithful Christianity in German lands half a millennium ago, studies show that in the 21st century the vast majority (92%) of people in Germany do not actively practice any faith. In fact, as surprising as it may sound, many people living in Germany today have never heard the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a very personal matter for me because some 25 years ago, I used to be one of those people too—an agnostic, that is, a person who, while not actually rejecting God, simply doesn’t care that He exists and wants nothing to do with Him—as I was once doing (see picture at right).
• Growing up and living in Germany into early adulthood, I knew nothing about the requirements of God’s Law. I led an agnostic and selfish lifestyle that hurt many people.
• However, in the mid-1990s my German-born wife Lula and I moved to the United States where for the first time I heard the Gospel—in an LCMS church. I heard the pastor say:
• “Jesus Christ died on the cross and took all your sins upon Himself. He forgives you for the pain and suffering you caused for so many people around you.”
Hearing the Gospel for the first time was a major turning point in my life. Lula and I joined that church and became very active in that congregation. Years after my “conversion experience,” the Holy Spirit prompted me to devote my whole life to Kingdom work. I went to the seminary, received my M.Div. at Concordia Seminary St. Louis, and later my D.Min. at Concordia Theological Seminary Ft. Wayne. I have now been a pastor for almost 13 years. But the Holy Spirit had more in store for me: Our Lord is now sending me back to the “fatherland,” where I am privileged to feed the Lord’s sheep and share the Gospel with fellow Germans and many migrants from the Middle East, all of whom are as much in the “dark” as I once was. This is an awesome task and I greatly look forward to doing the Lord’s work in the land in which the Reformer rediscovered the Gospel. This fall, I will transfer from Kaiserslautern to a different location in Germany where I will predominantly work with new Christians and aspiring Christians who hail from Iran and Afghanistan—in Farsi (the common language of these two people groups), a language that I am currently learning.