Palm Sunday in Kaiserslautern, Germany

Tue, Mar 27, 2018

Countries, Features, Germany, News

Youth from KELC helped the younger children with palm branches at the Palm Sunday worship service.

When we arrived at Kaiserslautern Evangelical Lutheran Church (KELC) early on Palm Sunday morning, we met a young family waiting at the church doors. As soon as the three boys saw Pastor Joseph and Deaconess Jennie Asher arriving, their faces lit up and they jumped excitedly. “Hello Pastor!” the youngest boy exclaimed.

“Good morning,” Pastor responded and opened the church doors. The children ran to the room off the sanctuary, ready to practice their song on Zechariah 9:9 for the morning worship service. Soon, more children arrived, happy to be in the Lord’s house and excited to get their palm branches and sing glory to their King.

After the church service, coffee and fresh baked goods welcomed members and visitors in the rented fellowship and Sunday School hall. As I spoke with members, the enthusiasm for the Ashers and the impact on their church became clear. Weekly church attendance has more than tripled since the Ashers came to the mission field in Kaiserslautern, Germany almost two years ago. The church now has a council and board positions filled with members who talk about Gospel outreach, church expansion, and stewardship with as much enthusiasm as the children practiced their songs. The church president commented on their growth goals with an enthusiastic, “We have only just begun.”

According to the church treasurer, the Kaiserslautern area is home to the largest number of Americans living outside of the United States, with almost 50,000 servicemen and women and their families. The need to minister to them is huge, and they are excited to have the Ashers share their vision to reach this population with Christ-centered Word and Sacrament. The church in Kaiserslautern is the nearest LCMS church to the Ramstein, Germany military base.

Rev. Joseph Asher serves as an LCMS missionary pastor in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

While many military families move in and out of the area, many members expressed the desire to have the consistency of a pastor stay and serve the congregation for several years, especially when it’s such a good fit for the congregation. In addition to the clear respect and admiration for Pastor Asher and his leadership, many of the young moms remarked about the impact of Jennie’s music program with the Sunday School children. One mom shared how it has enriched the lives of the children, as well as the church members who see and hear the students actively participate in the church services. After singing at the Palm Sunday Service, Jennie led the students in their Sunday School rehearsal to sing “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” on Easter Sunday.

While Jennie worked with the Sunday School children, more than 20 adults gathered for their adult bible study. During this time, some members expressed concerns about “sustainability” and the desire to engage more congregation members with church-sponsored mission trips and service projects. The reality is that the congregation currently is not financially able to pay a pastor and expand programs in addition to their rent and overhead expenses. The Ashers currently serve the congregation as missionaries; they supply all of their own funding through donors and sponsoring American congregations, just like all of the LCMS missionaries serving the Eurasia region. How long missionaries actually stay in the field depends, to a large degree, on their financial “sustainability” as well.

If you are interested in sponsoring a Eurasia missionary, go to lcms.org/missionarysupport or, for more information on the Ashers, go to lcms.org/asher.

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