Christians struggle to find support for work in former East Germany
I have observed dear, faithful people struggle in Poland, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic and other places, laborers of faith who have hearts for difficult work. I am therefore very distressed that a talented, eager young couple wants to work with a church plant in Leipzig, but they are not networked enough to have support.
When Roy Rhodes was a high school senior, I helped recruit him to the honors program at Oklahoma Christian University. He married Tiffany before his senior year, and during that final year they met Larry and Pam Sullivan, visiting missionaries of 20 years from Chemnitz, Germany. That relationship caused the Rhodes to dream of working in Germany for the Kingdom.
They decided to apply for the Helpers In Missions, or HIM, program — a two-year internship supervised by local evangelists and funded by the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. They worked in Chemnitz and now want to join the Sullivans in Leipzig.
Since March, they have sought support and a sponsoring congregation. They have found some support but no sponsor.
Joyce and I have come to love the Rhodes and see in them faithful servants with determination. In an early conversation, I asked Roy what about his Chemnitz experienced had shaped his dream.
“Being missionaries on the HIM program taught us a lot about discipleship,” he said. “Christ calls us to him out of his deep love for us, and he loves the people of East Germany just as deeply. And that truth is a truth most people in East Germany will not be confronted with, but we want to tell them.
“We learned that the German Democratic Republic’s (Soviet-controlled East Germany) attempts to systematically secularize society were very effective. When the GDR was established in 1949, 98 percent of East Germans confessed faith in Christ, and when Germany reunified in 1990, less than 25 percent of East Germans claimed to be Christian.
“That number hasn’t risen since. The general belief that religion is a crutch and that society is better off without an illusory faith very much persists, as does a great deal of ignorance regarding the Gospel.”
When I asked Roy about their plans, he indicated that they saw this as a long-term commitment of at least 10 years.
Clyde Antwine, a longtime missionary to Germany, visited the Rhodes and is enthusiastic about their work. Larry Sullivan, who worked with the couple on a daily basis, strongly recommends them.
Since their arrival in Leipzig in July 2009, “Roy and Tiffany Rhodes … have shown themselves to be willing workers,” Sullivan said. “Tiffany has been able to use her artistic talents on numerous occasions to help the church. She has prepared many of our invitations and flyers and has opened their apartment to many of their contacts. Roy has shown himself to be gifted learning German and shows no inhibitions about speaking to others.
“Both of these young people exhibit characteristics such as willingness to adapt, hospitality and readiness to serve — all things that we look for when searching for workers.”
Sullivan also talked about the respect the church and team have for the Rhodes and how intense prayers are arising from Germany for them.
I ask you to pray for the Rhodes and consider ways you can help them evangelize in Leipzig. They especially need a loving, sponsoring church. Reach them at [email protected].
FeedbackEast Germany has been and still is an exciting mission field. The soil can be very rocky at times, yet it contains the potential for a good harvest. Those Christians who have come from an Atheist background are a testimony to that fact. We will definitely keep praying for the Lord to send more workers who are willing to help us reach out to those seeking for truth (Mark 9:37-38). Roy and Tiffany Rhodes have a heart for our country and our people. After two years of internship they have gained a good command of the language as well as an understanding of the culture. They are prepared to come back. Thank you for supporting them!Alexander Bartschchurch of Christ in ChemnitzChemnitz, Saxony
GermanyNovember, 3 2011