This article was written by Vicar Thomas Beneke and Rev. Hugo Gevers of our partner church body, the Selbständige Evangelische Lutherische Kirche (SELK) (Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church) in Leipzig, Germany. Vicar Beneke and Rev. Gevers work with underprivileged children and migrants in Volkmarsdorf, Leipzig at Die Bruecke in coordination with the SELK congregation St. Trinitatisgemeinde, Rev. Markus Fischer, and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) missionary Rev. Dr. Christopher Ahlman. The children’s weekend discussed below coincided with the congregation’s third “Letter of Christ” seminar.
“AM I NOW BEING BAPTIZED?”
…was the burning question one child asked during a retreat on the premises of St. Trinitatisgemeinde (Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church) in Leipzig. The children’s retreat took place under the theme: “I believe in God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth…” This theme had already been prepared by the kids in the weeks preceding the weekend trip. During the weekend we Geo-cached, built a campfire, roasted meat and home-made bread, played many diffirent games, slept in tents and held an evening devotion. The concluding service with Pastor Dr. Neumann (from Lutheran Hour in Germany) on Sunday was a special highlight.
As the children’s sermon, the kids were shown happy and sad pictures taken from their daily lives. Sadly many could immediately understand and associate with the sad pictures. All these pictures were then placed in the baptismal font, picturing that our entire lives are placed in the strong hands of our God. With Him everything has a beginning and an end. It does not end in nothing, but in the loving hands of our heavenly Father.
At the conlusion of the service all 12 children gathered in front of the Altar for the blessing. Pastor Dr. Neumann blessed each child personally by drawing the cross of Christ on their foreheads. The children were awe-struck. At this point one young man piped up and asked: “Am I now being baptized?”
And it seems as if the message of the weekend has found open hearts among the children of Volkmarsdorf. Shortly after our retreat we were gathered in “Brücke” for our regular Tuesday-afternoon program. One child sad a very bad word about God. Immediately one of the kids who had attended the weekend piped up and confessed, “This is not true! God has created you!” This makes us hopeful for the next weekend, where perhaps we can also learn about the second Article of our faith.
After the children had had their Sunday lunch with the congregation and were on their way home to Volkmarsdorf by tram, the congregation gathered for a seminar with Pastor Dr. Neumann. The seminar was the third in a series about the passage “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2. Corinthians 3:3)
Pastor Neumann used biblical examples and illustrations taken from the daily life of the congregation to explain how Christians come together as one Body of Christ and how these same Christians then witness in the surrounding community. God has placed us on a common path. On this path He has led us to encounter this group of non-Christian children. We will accompany them on this section of their life’s journey, hoping that they may also one day become part of God’s big family. May God give us all the strength and His Spirit for this very valuable work!
Tags: baptism, children, Christopher Ahlman, Creator, First Article of the Creed, German Lutheran Hour, Germany, God the Father, hugo gevers, leipzig, Life Together, Markus Fischer, Mercy, Rev. Dr. Horst Neumann, St. Trinitatisgemeinde, Thomas Beneke, weekend, Witness