Ministry in Deutschland
By Maureen Cunningham
Guten tag! My name is Maureen Cunningham and I am currently serving with Cru in Berlin, Germany. Cru believes that university students are a strategic group of people to reach with the Gospel. Our ministry here wants to see students come to know Jesus personally and for them to multiply their lives. I would like to invite you to enter into this city I now call home and the ministry that God has called me to for this season of life.
Berlin is an interesting city. I saw a man putting rolled up sheets of tin foil over his face the other day.
They love wearing black, and Berlin is huge. It has 3.6 million residents with a landmass 8 times the size of Paris. There are 4 public research universities and 27 professional and technical colleges. Among those 31 schools, there are over 175,000 students. There are people from everywhere; people from around 180 different countries reside in this city. When I hear that fact, I immediately think of Revelation 7:9, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” I am then reminded of the great spiritual darkness here, and especially on college campuses.
So much of our ministry is initiating spiritual conversations with students on campus and asking them about their beliefs and worldviews. We desire to find students who are already Christians so that we can connect them to other believers on their campus and equip them to share the Gospel to their classmates. But we are also continuing to reach out to those students who are not believers and to give them the opportunity to respond to the Gospel. In a city that is so spiritually dark, this can be exhausting. We often get laughed at when trying to do surveys; people’s body language and demeanor physically shifts when the name Jesus gets brought up. Many say that God and faith is the lowest priority in life. Hardly anyone has interest in talking again. For most, truth is relative, so none of these things matter to them anyway. But, with all of these struggles that come from working in a place with such hard soil, it makes the visible fruit so much sweeter.
Living in Berlin and working with Cru for the past year and half has been such a time of growth for me in so many aspects of my life. I knew when I graduated college that moving to Germany would take a great amount of dependence on the Lord, but I could not have imagined just how much I would need. I absolutely love living in a different culture and getting to explore a big city, but I am often pushed out of my comfort zone and realize that even the most basic aspects of life are intensified. I have to get up the courage to speak to people in German if I need help, going to the grocery store is intimidating, and I have to constantly make sure I’m getting on the right bus or train. But for me, the hardest thing about living and working in Berlin is going to campus every day to get into spiritual conversations with students. It doesn’t matter that I have been doing this every week for almost two years (and even longer as a student). It hasn't gotten easier. At least not when I am relying on my own strength.
I have seen the Lord drastically grow my heart for the lost since being in Berlin, especially this year. I feel that whenever I enter into a conversation with someone on campus, I see them as a person who has desires and who is longing for something. I know the only thing that will ever truly satisfy them is Christ. I have been forced to learn that I cannot convince anyone to believe in God or that Jesus is who He says He is. I must trust that God is drawing people to Himself and that He is working in the hearts of these students I come in contact with. Though I am confronted every day with the brokenness all around me, God is also visibly reminding me that there is hope.
The Lord truly has humbled me through this job. My flesh is so weak, yet His Holy Spirit that lives in me is so strong. I have the power that raised Christ from the dead dwelling in me! (Romans 8:11) How often I forget that when I am sitting in a crowded cafeteria surrounded by students who seemingly have their lives together and have no desire to know God. But then I talk to someone who has never heard the true Gospel of Christ before or to someone who says that there has to be more to life than just happiness or to someone who genuinely wants to start reading the Bible. And it all becomes worth it.
Berlin is a city that has been in spiritual darkness for a long time. I am a part of a legacy of believers constantly sharing their faith here and who have labored for years without seeing any visible fruit. Slowly but surely, though, we have seen the spiritual soil becoming softened. We have noticed that people are becoming more willing to talk to us, more open to meeting up again, and Christian students are realizing the importance of sharing their faith. Eight years ago, that was not the case at all. It is so important for me to remember that God’s timeline is not my own, and to trust that He is working in the hearts of every person I talk to, growing the seed that was planted. I have realized that, like in 1 Corinthians 3, our role in it all is to plant the seed, water it, and let God make it grow. Whether we live in the atheist capital of Europe, or the bustling river city in the middle of Illinois, God is at work. I am convinced that He is at work all around us, we just need to ask Him to show us where. I am continuously humbled that God would use someone so weak to tell people a message so strong, but He does. And He can and wants to use you, too.