Last night Alan and I, along with Bob and Joan from Hillside, met with Steve Ludwig and Paul Lowe from the UK office of Pioneers for dinner in Manchester. It was a discovery meeting for both sides. Did we think Pioneers was a good fit for us? Did they think we were a good fit for Pioneers?
We came away after a nice dinner still asking those questions but maybe not as strongly as before we met. I for one, came away more firmly knowing that God has called Alan and I to Germany (we believe to Heidelberg specifically) and to helping train, encourage and mobilize Germans to become missionaries to wherever God is calling them. We want to play hosts for those seeking short-term exposure to missions in Germany - whether that be a Teen Missions team, a church group from the states or the UK or individuals and teams sent through Pioneers. We also want to evangelize and disciple Germans, US Army Soldiers and the students that attend University there. At our foundation though is getting heavily involved in a local church. We liked the one we visited over Easter - Victory International and as such have sent email to the pastor there today trying to find out more and seek out His heart for the church and the people of Heidelberg.
Known as the "heart of Europe", Heidelberg lies approximately 80km south of Frankfurt which is in central Germany. The population is nearly 140,000 which is big in comparison to Athens. 1/5 of these are students - nearly 30,000 of them attend Heidelberg University and of this, roughly 5,000 are international students. 1/7 of the entire population are non-German nationals. There are at least two US army bases there and a NATO branch - one of which we saw on our way to church, the Mark Twain Army base. These bases give us great opportunity for reaching out to those that have had to relocate and are experiencing a combination of excitement for living in Europe with an anxiety for missing home, learning the language and culture and fitting in.
Heidelberg is gorgeous. It sits in the mountains and it's old town (altstadt) runs along the Rhine where there are a series of locks that let boats and barges go up and down the river. Above the town sits the Heidelberg Schloss (castle) which Alan says reminds him of the tower of Babel. Mark Twain describes it best though I think when he says, "Misfortune has done for this old tower what it has done for the human character sometimes−improved it." In 1976 the streets in the old town were pedestrianized and the beautiful cobblestones stretch out against some of the most fantastic shops I've ever seen.
There are some exciting possibilities and so we continue to push doors in this direction and wait on God for more answers. He is good and faithful and we feel confident that we are on a path that could easily utilize both of our backgrounds, interests and gifts for His glory if He so chooses.