This article is shared with us by Rev. Hugo Gevers of Die Selbständige Evangelische–Lutherische Kirche (The Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of German or SELK), a sister church body of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS). Rev. Hugo Gevers is the Lutherische Kirchenmission (LKM) missionary to the migrants and the underserved in Volkmarsdorf, Leipzig, Germany. LKM is the mission arm of the SELK. Rev. Gevers works alongside the local SELK congregation, St. Trinitatisgemeinde, which is housed in the historic Lukaskirche in Volkmarsdorf, to reach migrants, refugees, and the underserved Germans living in the area with Witness and Mercy, and bring them into Life Together.
–By Rev. Hugo Gevers
Right from the start our efforts to organize a Christmas party for the refugee kids seemed to be hampered by almost everything and everybody. But still we received the go-ahead to share around 250 Christmas gifts with children in a refugee camp in Leipzig.
But I was absolutely frustrated when all these kids were moved to smaller towns around Saxony just three days before our party. What to do? There was no going back as the 250 presents were all ready and packed in our home! Initially, I tried to organize a Saxony wide trip. But this became an impossible option, since we had to plan each event separately and also had to negotiate with each and every refugee home co-ordinator. In a situation like this, we have no option but to wait for God to act on our behalf. And so it was.
All of a sudden we were given a hall in a refugee camp in Leipzig and could share with all of the children in the camp. But would we get our volunteers to join us for this event exactly one day before Christmas Eve? The efforts of these volunteers really surprised me beyond measure. We managed to get 16 helpers on board. This included members, as well as the parents of a member who were visiting from South Africa. In addition, the security staff of the hall also helped. This was amazing! And so things just all fell into place.
In the home we were received with open arms by the staff as well as by the refugees themselves. I will never forget these golden moments: Children who have seen nothing but war all their lives with the precious gift in their arms, perhaps for the first time in their entire lives. Their boxes included a musical instrument, clothing, writing material and a toy. And the far greater gift was the message of Christ, which I was able to share in Farsi and which a member of our church then translated into Arabic. The kids then literally tore the little Gospel tract from my hands. It was a wonderful experience! God prepared the way and the hearts of these kids as well as their parents for us.
A big thank you to all the volunteers! When it was all done, the refugee coordinator personally thanked us all for organizing the event. She even heaped us with praise! What a difference to the initial open resentment which we experienced!
And last but not least was the performance of our brass instruments. An unforgettable experience was seeing these old ladies clapping their hands to ancient German music. This must have been totally strange to them and yet they were so appreciative!
The event allowed us to do the main thing necessary for further work: build trust. Our faces are known and some of the families attended the Divine Service at Lukaskirche on Christmas Eve.