A Walk in the City
Back in June 2019, I had the privilege of leading a group of Hispanic young adults on a missions trip to Berlin, Germany. I have led quite a few short-term trips, but this one was different.
Who Would We Encounter?
Our primary objective was to make contacts for the Alliance international workers (IWs) who live here. We had a supply of contact cards to give people, listing phone numbers and an invitation to visit the Spanish-language Alliance church in Berlin. We were to walk city streets, attempting to locate Hispanics among the millions of people living in Berlin, the second most populated city in the European Union. We thought the odds of meeting a Hispanic person were near to none.
We were also warned that if we did make contacts, there was a possibility that we would face skepticism. Our team members were instructed to enter department stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, coffee shops, etc., and speak Spanish to each other. The IWs said we would know when someone was Hispanic because they would make eye contact with us, acknowledging that they understood what we were saying—we wanted to see this happen!
After two hours of walking throughout the city, we had made 13 contacts! It was amazing to see how our spiritual eyes and ears were opened and how the Lord coordinated these divine appointments.
Each person we met had never set foot in an evangelical church. All 13 received an invitation to visit our church.
Here are testimonies from some of those divine encounters:
- One team member challenged another to enter a barbershop and ask if anyone spoke Spanish. When asked, “Why?” she replied, “Because every time my dad goes on vacation, his first stop is the barbershop.” To the team’s surprise, there was a Spanish speaker in the shop—the barber!
- Another team reported how two women began a conversation with them when team members were speaking Spanish on a street corner. One of the ladies became quite interested in their mission. Noticing her sense of hopelessness, team members began sharing words of encouragement and hope with her; they reported that she expressed feeling a sense of peace when their conversation concluded.
- During my team’s walk through the city we entered a small convenience store to buy soap. While we were speaking Spanish in the store, I noticed a woman making eye contact with me. But I continued walking. The Holy Spirit kept drawing me back to her, but I didn’t take the initiative to speak to her in Spanish. After we had purchased the soap and were making our way out of the store, the Holy Spirit stopped me. I wish I had the right words to describe that powerful moment—His voice was so clear! “You need to go back in!” So, I grabbed an umbrella on display outside the store and yelled to my team, “I need to buy this!” As I made my way to the cash register, a German woman began talking to me. When I told her I didn’t speak German, she answered, “I’m sorry; I thought you worked here!” We both laughed. As I turned around, I noticed that the lady who had previously made eye contact with me was smiling. I smiled in return, saying, “Eso estuvo gracioso!” (That was funny!). She laughed and replied, “Si!” We introduced ourselves to each other, and I invited her to the church. She said she’d never visited a church but a friend in Mexico had for years insisted she attend. She said that in Germany there’s no place to go for Hispanics like her who have gone through difficult times. Realizing I was offering what her friend had in the past, she became interested and expressed that what our team has is probably what she’s been looking for. I gave her the church information, and she said she would consider attending in the next few weeks.
- After two hours of walking the city, our teams got on a bus to go to an IW’s home. One of our members asked someone in our group a question in Spanish; a young man sitting next to them responded, thinking she was talking to him. Four of our team members started conversing with this young man and invited him to a soccer game later that week. To our surprise, he showed up and then attended church on Sunday! He has not missed one Sunday service since and says he plans to bring his mom as well. We learned later that he had taken the wrong bus when we’d met him!
Allow Him to Lead
During our nine days in Berlin, we could feel a sense of darkness and hopelessness as we walked the streets, but we also experienced firsthand the Holy Spirit at work. We learned that when we allow Him to lead us, focusing on what He has commanded us to do, our spiritual eyes see and hear the need—and He makes divine encounters possible.
Our Alliance congregation’s potential to impact and bring hope to the Spanish-speaking community in Berlin is tremendous. Can we count on you to intercede for them and the Hispanic people we met? Pray that they will have a sense of urgency to use the contact cards we gave them and call the IWs or visit the church.
Check out “When God Says ‘Help Me!,'” a related story from Berlin.