Serving in a Foreign Land

From the Foxhole to the Pulpit

Serving in a Foreign Land (Part I)
            My first duty station, after Basic Training and Advance Individual Training (AIT), was in Amberg, Germany. What I enjoyed about this tour, other than being in another country, is that it also included a real world mission. This is not to say that training for war during peace time is not real; however, I was in a unit that also included the patrolling of the Czechoslovakian and West German border during the height of the Cold War. For me this was an exciting and important time and a real opportunity to Be All That You Can Be.

Serving in a foreign land has its advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is the opportunity to experience other cultures and to examine close up, the history of that foreign land. In our case, we were able to experience the beauty of Germany and to take in their rich history. We were blessed with the opportunity to visit castles, such as the medieval fortress of Veste Coburg where Martin Luther spent time after the imperial ban was placed upon him at the Diet of Augsburg. It was there that Luther continued his work at translating the Bible into the German language.

Germany also had many well preserved and historic churches that we were able to visit. Churches such as Frauenkirche, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady. This is one of the most historic and recognizable churches in Munich because of its distinctive architectural features, twin green domes that mark the Munich skyline. Not too far from Frauenkirche is Peterskirche, commonly referred to as the Church of St. Peter or Alter Peter (Old Peter). The Church of St. Peter is considered the oldest church building in Munich, even though it went through an extensive reconstruction period after receiving severe damaged in World War II. These two churches flank the famous Rathaus Glockenspiel, located in the often overcrowded Marienplatz (Mary’s Square), Munich’s primary square or marketplace. Frauenkirche is two blocks west and one block north, while Peterskirche is one block east and one block south of the square. Again, these two churches are flanking the Marienplatz, which is perhaps the most visited spot in all of Munich. These two church are beautiful, famous, well visited, but they are not well attended. At least not for the purpose of worshiping God and for preaching the gospel.
By now, you probably have an understanding of the point that I am getting to. Serving in a foreign land presented my family with a wonderful social opportunities, to experience the rich history and beauty of Germany, while providing us with the warning of missed spiritual opportunities. These two churches represent a common occurrence in the churches throughout the European continent. They are historic, but no longer relevant to the cause of Christ. The mission of gospel saturation has been long forgotten and these buildings now stand as landmarks and tourist attraction, rather than landmarks of faith that point people towards Jesus. The true warning found here is the realization that Christianity in America is on the verge of repeating what has already occurred all over Europe.
Serving in a Foreign Land is a reminder of the ongoing task that is incumbent upon each and every follower of Christ. This task is recorded in Matthew 28:18-20 and is known as the Great Commission. "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' Amen."

A Christian and/or a church that becomes apathetic to the Great Commission and lethargic to the first and second Great Commandments (Love God and Love Others, Matthew 22:37-40), are well on their way to becoming a relic of the past. Nice to visit or look at, but absent of power to influence others for the cause of Christ. Serving in a Foreign Land was an eye opener for me and it is my prayer that others will not come to our country or into our communities, simply to visit the historical sites, known as the church.     

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