Placed with a Purpose – in Berlin!

by Melanie Chinchilla

Our story begins quite simply. We had just moved to Berlin. Being fluent in English and Spanish, we thought that God had something Spanish-oriented in mind. But we were absolutely sure of the call to Berlin. We dove into German language school. It was hard. Really hard. They say learning a third language is easy, but that’s not actually true. We lived it. And in the midst of it, we were dying to the dream we had of ministering in Spanish, having a deep love for the people, culture and language.

Fast forward five years. Enter our new friend, CK. He is Colombian. CK, by way of his grandfather, carries German citizenship. He finds himself in Berlin, allowed to be there, but feeling out of place. Displaced. Through a series of divine appointments, José met CK at a Spanish-speaking men’s cooking event. CK was lonely, in culture shock, looking for something familiar, even his own heart language. We invited CK to our home for a meal, and heard his story – one of wanting to make a better life for his family and wanting to raise his children in a safe and stable society. For CK, there was a certain comfort in knowing someone who had walked the path a bit longer, who spoke the same language, who had grown to call Berlin home. He became our friend. He shared rather quickly that he was an atheist. José shared that he was a Professor of the Bible.

Two weeks later, CK’s wife and children were able to join him in Berlin on Christmas Eve, just in time for the holidays. The four of them joined us for New Year’s Eve. We got to know the family and celebrated all that 2017 would bring. We agreed to have brunch the following Sunday.  To our surprise, J, CK’s wife, shared that she believes in God, believes that He exists, but is neither Catholic nor Evangelical. She just believes there is a God. She asked if we had church services and Bible studies and Sunday School, because she wanted to raise her children with the practice of having religion in their lives. CK then told us that he didn’t grow up with any religious background, and that was what made him an atheist. But he was open. We took a huge risk of faith and gave them both a Spanish Bible.

We planned to meet for Bible study the following Sunday, but CK found himself severely ill and hospitalized. J let us know and José was able to visit him in the hospital. CK shared that he brought the Bible with him because he didn’t want to be bored and that he had begun reading the Bible from the very beginning. We thought he meant Genesis. But no. CK had begun with the Table of Contents and the explanation of how the Bible was interpreted from original manuscripts. CK now found himself in the explanation of Application and Interpretation. He asked José, who also happens to teach Hermeneutics, the study of Biblical interpretation and application, if he could help him understand and apply the Bible to his life. If he was going to read the Bible, he wanted to do it right. Hallelujah!

José agreed. We were able to meet last week with both CK and J to study the first chapter of the Gospel of John together. They had so many questions, and God is most certainly at work.

Pray for CK and his family. As we discuss Nicodemus together in a few weeks, pray that God would show them their own need to be born again. We are asking God to bring salvation to the whole family!

We give thanks to God for how He is at work. We cannot help but marvel at how He brought us to Berlin, having a love for Spanish speakers. After language school and adjustment to a new city, we now are grateful to call Berlin home. God makes no mistakes. He wastes no experience. And He is so good. He loves us so much that He will pursue us.

My own family immigrated from Germany to the US three generations ago during times of war and, as a result, we came to know Jesus. God has seen fit to have us return to Germany to share Jesus with others. We have come full circle and are seeing God place people in different countries in order to encounter Jesus, even using wars and crises in their home countries. Like many places around the globe, God is bringing the nations to Berlin. And, as a result of being ‘displaced’, they are often more open to the Gospel than they would be or could be in their home country.

Melanie and José have lived and served in Berlin since January 2012. They are International Workers serving Spanish speakers through Project Cherry Tree, a multi-cultural church planting project. They are grateful to share space at the Lighthouse, an Alliance Community Center in the heart of Berlin. They have two boys.