This post is shared with the Eurasia Blog by Rev. Hugo Gevers, missionary to the migrant population in Leipzig, Germany. Rev. Gevers is sent by the Lutherische Kirchen Mission (LKM), and works with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) partner church, the Selbständige Evangelisch—Lutherische Kirche (SELK). The LCMS supports projects with this partner church through the sending of staff and resources.
And they shall come from the east and west, and from the north and south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.
All these people gathered together at St. Trinitatisgemeinde in our small wooden church in Kleiststrasse, Leipzig on February 9, 2014, to be Baptized and/or Confirmed. Most of those who asked to be confirmed or to be baptized came from Iran. But Iran is a big country and so we had people from all territories present on this day. The service was conducted in both German and Farsi, the language of the Iranian migrants. One of the confirmands was a 74 year old German gentleman from Chemnitz in Saxony, Germany. He was baptized in a small village there shortly after he was born. However he was never raised as a Christian. We met this gentleman in the Asylum home in Elbisbach and he began attending our Persian services there. Later he asked to participate in our Holy Communion service and so began a confirmation class some 74 years after baptism. That must be some sort of record! This German gentleman was so readily accepted into the Persian community that we chose a Confirmation verse which seems more fitting to an asylum-seeker: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household” (Ephesians 2:19).
In this instance the German was a foreigner in the Persian Community. It was a very heartening experience to see how readily the Persian Christians accepted a German member into their community. This in spite of the fact that they are sometimes despised by some members of the German community.
Of course we had several other Migrant Baptisms and Confirmations as well. In all 5 people were baptized (4 adults and one child) and 7 people were confirmed. Two boys, who are not old enough to be confirmed, were enrolled as congregation members. That makes 14 new members in the Body of Christ! This baptismal/confirmation class started in September 2013. Those members who were confirmed were baptized in other churches. Some churches baptize migrants without any Christian teaching at all. That is the reason why they joined our group after their Baptisms. In addition to confessing their faith and in addition to renouncing Satan and all his works, the members have the opportunity also to renounce Islam, the Koran and to proclaim that Mohammed is not the prophet of God. Our members receive the opportunity to do this, because converts to Islam have to confess their Faith in Mohammed and Koran upon joining this religion. Some of the people who were confirmed or baptized were born Muslim. However even their families never saw themselves as faithful Muslims. Not to forget: Their forefathers and mothers were converted to Islam by force. So these people now had the unique and God given opportunity to reverse the confession that was once forced upon their forebears. However, this time they confessed their faith not under duress but by their own free will. This is what happens if God opens hearts and speaks to people. Martin Luther would say: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel…” (See Luther’s Small Catechism). Thanks be to God that he has called these 14 people into His Church!
- Learn more about the work of Rev. Gevers.
- Learn more about St. Trinitatisgemeinde’s plans to move to the historic Lukaskirche.
- Pray for the newly Baptized and Confirmed, that the Lord would keep them in the One True Faith.
- Pray for the congregation of St. Trinitatisgemeinde to grow together in love and faithfulness with new and old members alike.
- To support the work in Leipzig with a donation toward the renovation of the historic Lukaskirche, which the church hopes to occupy soon, you can give here: The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, P.O. Box 790089, St. Louis, MO 6310-79-0089. Note that it is for the Germany Leipzig Church Plant.