You might ask, why do you go to Germany on a mission trip?
After all, Germany’s ruling party for a decade is a Christian party. Angela Merkel is a Lutheran Christian and the Chancellor of the country, and overall it’s a leading nation in Europe.
Well, that’s true but after the Berlin Wall broke down and reunification took place, East Germans did not stay in the churches. These churches helped start the revolution in 1989 and protected those in East Germany during the communist time, but the Germans in the East simply forgot who really helped them. Meanwhile, church buildings become dance clubs, mosques, or parking lots because East Germany is considered more atheist than countries like North Korea or China.
And in the West? Where do the 80% Christians from the statistics come from?
The answer is easy. It’s the church tax system. As a Catholic son, you get your first job and your paycheck. Then you see with the standard withholdings the church tithe you paid. You are a member as long as you pay taxes. In fact, you step out of church only by going to the town hall and telling an officer under oath that you step out of the church.
Many people don’t care. They go to funerals, weddings or Christmas services. That’s the service the pastor is there for. And so maybe that you are buried in your family’s Catholic or Lutheran graveyard. That’s it. Communion and confirmation are a must traditions for the kids. At the latest when youth turn 14 years old, they can decide at school to skip religious education and take ethics or philosophy. After confirmation which lasts for 2 years, when a youth turns 16, you won’t see them any more at church. There are a few exceptions, of course, but surveys in Germany show that only 5% can be considered real Christians.
That is why we are going to Germany year after year. It’s difficult to bring youth to Jesus there in one event. Last year four young adults were baptized that we have known since the camp in 2008. In the meantime, about 20 young men and women from the camps are active leaders at other churches or youth or student organizations. You have to have a long breath, to be able to see the results, but it’s not our task to get the crop in. We have to sow the seeds.
Why baseball? Sports are a way to cross cultural boundaries and differences. Someone who might not set foot inside a church except for Christmas and Easter might come play baseball. Americans are coming to teach an American sport. It’s something that can catch the attention of German youth. You don’t have to know how to play baseball to reach German youth. It’s about showing the love of Christ to the people at the baseball camp. There are still spaces available for the Germany mission trip. If you are interested in going on the trip, submit a missions application at firstchurch.net/application.