Coexisting with the virus” is Germany’s policy toward the pandemic. Mask requirement is mandatory in specific places such as public transportation and hospitals. However, in other places, mask-wearing is optional based on personal preference. News Headline: Germany reached 1 million confirmed cases of Covid-19. At the beginning of June, there were 660,000 confirmed cases, with new confirmed cases amounting to 120,000 per day. During spring and summer, life has returned to normal in general. For example, many people attended Documenta; an art exhibition held every five years in Kassel. Tourist attractions and large-scale events were packed with people.
However, since the virus continues to mutate and BA.5 is highly contagious, Germany has had an alarming rate of over 100,000 cases per day since late June. As autumn and winter are approaching, we do not know whether the government will be prepared for a new pandemic wave. We also do not know if the church will need to cease its physical gatherings again. May the Lord have mercy on this global pandemic situation.
Since the weekend of May 1st to August 31st, Göttingen City Council has announced that women will be allowed to swim topless in public swimming pools. The rule relates to the event last fall when a woman was swimming topless in a pool. The security asked her to cover her chest, but she refused to cooperate as she identified herself as a man. She was then asked to leave the swimming pool. This incident led to a heated debate, with feminists arguing that it was a significant violation of women’s rights. Subsequently, public opinion began to ferment, forcing the city to finally settle with this regulation. For this reason, Göttingen became the pioneer city of “gender equality” in Germany.
In terms of cultural differences, Germany has an open mindset toward nudity: most saunas in Germany are co-ed, which require customers to strip naked for hygiene reasons. From the perspective of Christian ethics, this regulation once again reveals the crooked and perverse era in which the priorities and boundaries of God’s sovereignty, human rights, and sexual rights are becoming increasingly confused. We pray that our Lord guides His children and the second generation of Christians to maintain a clear set of values. News Headline: Victory in Feminism. From May to August, Gottingen permitted topless swimming and water play.
• The first joint baptism & love feast in Göttingen & Kassel after the pandemic, 70 people attended.
• June outreach of student group in Göttingen – Goslar, 16 people attended.
• June Outreach in Kassel (young careers & family) – BBQ, 80 people participated.
• July Outreach – Eisenach day trip, 15 people attended. We organized monthly outreach in Göttingen to familiarize new students & families and get them more involved in church. Wartburg (World Cultural Heritage) in Eisenach is a castle with a history related to Martin Luther. We took the opportunity to lead a workshop on the “Origins of Reformation” during Bible Study Classes, hoping to draw interest and create conversations surrounding our faith.
• August 4th to 7th , Committee Training Camp: Theme – Serving in Unity. We had about 90 attendees in person. May the leaders continue to be inspired by God’s words and respond in action to the calling of the Holy Spirit.
I know what should have been done, but I just couldn’t do it….” This was the frequent response we received from believers. We invited a wife to share in a first-person narrative of how our heavenly Father saved her marriage. As we want to stay within a reasonable number of pages, we can only share the wife’s testimony in this newsletter. The event occurred in April of last year, but we chose to share it now instead. We want to highlight the fact that transformation in life requires more than just one or two encounters with God. It’s an ongoing journey of failures and tests. Day by day, the old self will be overcome and submit fully to the Holy Spirit. Their marriage still requires prayers and continues to grow as they’re renewed in God’s grace.
A Resurrected Marriage
Last year during Easter, God “resurrected” our marriage! My husband and I have constantly been arguing over the past five years. There was a deep-seated animosity between us. We both felt hurt and wronged. At times, he would mention a divorce. However, this was never an option for me; until the Fall of 2020, following an intense argument. He mentioned leaving the marriage again, and that was when I began hearing a voice, “Why bother? Is it really worth your effort? Why do you have to insist if he doesn’t want it? You can still have a wonderful life without him.” I told myself, if he raised the request to divorce again, I’d go with it. During this time, I didn’t want to pray. I knew that if I knelt down and prayed, God would ask me to turn back. My heart was hardened, and I refused to submit. I complained to God, “Why don’t You go and speak with him? Why don’t you change him? Why is it always I who need to compromise?” There were only accusations and bitterness towards my husband, and the thought of leaving him led to more disrespectful attitudes towards him. A sense of resentment and detest was built up.
During Easter, we had another quarrel, and he stated he wanted a divorce again; I readily agreed. Our five-year-old child saw us arguing and cried, asking Dad when he would be with us again. I couldn’t bear to hurt him, so I said, “If you want your dad and me to be back together, then you need to pray to Jesus!” (I shouldn’t have brought the child into a marriage conflict.) My child really did pray. Since then, his emotions became unstable. A child who was once happy and joyful suddenly became angry and sad. Several days after the quarrel, he came and pressed a small wooden shovel against my face and shouted, “Does it hurt? It does, doesn’t it? This is how my heart is feeling!” I cried and was shocked: what is this pain that led my five-year-old to say such words? Although my mind was made up, I still wanted a last attempt to love as Jesus did.
My husband had to serve at Easter worship; I responded to God and prepared what my husband needed. I wrote him a note wishing all would go smoothly for him. Our interactions Colossians 1:28, NIV: “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing & teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.” Two days later, I wanted some quiet time. I knelt down and prayed. Before I even spoke, tears poured down my face. My intended words of complaint unexpectedly changed to God’s gentle voice of mercy, “He is your husband. Do you respect him? Do you honor him? Do you truly love him as you say?” It’s not a voice to discipline, but a voice like a sun that melted the snow, filling my heart with warmth and hope. At the same time, it revealed my guilt and shame. The many days of powerlessness, despair and disheartenedness were replaced by God’s warmth, the power of love!
After the prayer, I wrote a note inviting my husband to pray with me. I was afraid to give him too much pressure, so I wrote: if you’re not ready, I can wait. I was hoping he would experience the same kind of miraculous change that just happened to me. After quite a long time, he finally agreed to kneel and pray. I sensed a strong force of hindrance in his prayer. I wasn’t discouraged. I announced loudly, let God rebuke the lies that Satan placed in our hearts, which is “divorce is the best option”. He seemed to have experienced an awakening. The Holy Spirit began to comfort and tears poured down. Together, we rebuked the lies. After the prayer, we held each other and cried. The hurts and wrongs from the past, which we thought could never be reconciled, all melted away as we embraced. The long, intertwined list of debts and blames all disappeared at the moment. All that remained were tears, love, and endless gratitude. That day, we seemed to have returned to our early days of dating. At times, we would hug and cry, then a little later, we would hold hands and laugh. We had so much to catch up that day, like best friends who haven’t seen each other for quite a while, or like new couples reunited after a short departure.
At night, we apologized to our child together, and told him that Jesus answered his prayer. Mommy and daddy came back together. Our child said, “I’m especially happy today, because you two are back together.” I gave my heartfelt response, “We are very happy as well. Our heavenly Father brought us back together again.” Since then, we have been offering our praises and thanksgiving daily to God as a family, trusting Him, and seeking His will in everything we do. However, Satan would not stop attacking us, from time to time, it would lead us to doubt and sow discord between us. In the past year, we have experienced the truth of when we remain in God, we have the power to love, to accept and to endure; when we distanced ourselves from God, the sinful nature of our old self will take over, and resume a destructive mode damaging the relationship. Each time when we turned back in humility, and admitted our faults in prayers, we would experience God’s comfort.
Being filled with the Spirit is a very real and sweet experience. The Easter of 2021 was when Jesus first revealed His power of resurrection in our family. He saved our marriage and amended our relationship with our child. From this experience, we have learned:
1. Be Alert! Do not give ways to Satan! Our marriage nearly ended in failure, because we allowed the idea of a divorce to sprout and grow. It took advantage of our self-pity and pride, and made us believe that divorce can resolve all problems and pain. We need to rely on God’s Words to defend against Satan’s lies and schemes. We cannot let Satan’s voice overtake our hearts.
2. Pray! We have both experienced the power of prayers, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” When our voices became argumentative, our child would remind us, “Go and pray!” He would also pray for us. The practice of prayers has become our family’s constant theme.
3. Count Your Blessings! It is easy to forget the many wonderful blessings and grace from God in regular life. When tests and challenges come, we often want to plot and overcome with our own understanding. In the end, doubts and judgments filled our hearts, and prevented us from hearing God’s voice. Thus, we couldn’t submit to the lead of the Holy Spirit. We have decided to always count His blessings, submit fully and follow His guidance. In writing this testimony, it allowed me to count God’s blessing once again. May the pain and resurrection of our marriage be our life lesson – our crossing of the “red sea” experience.