Munich Adventure

Nathan, Rada, Anya & Aleksa's move to Munich…

Category: Blog (Page 1 of 2)

….to the Nations

Nathan explains a little of our heart for the nations

I have a new addiction.  It is a card game called Mapominoes which combines two of life’s joys – geography and competition!  Yes, it is completely geeky but it keeps me happy.

Using a card game to pray for the nations!

I have always been fascinated by maps and other countries.  I would spend hours pouring over atlases and I can remember as a child trawling the exhibition stands at Christian conferences looking for information about missionary organisations and the different countries they were working in.  The prayer tool Operation World was a big favourite of mine.

Do you also love the whole concept of different nations, cultures, peoples?  Built into humankind is the desire to explore and to know, surely a resonance with God’s eternal plan for his created people to spread out throughout the earth.

This whole theme is intrinsic to our calling as a family and of the culture we desire to shape for our mission here in Munich.  One of the reasons we were excited to move to Munich is that it is full of the nations – tens of thousands of people from the Balkans, Italy, Greece, Turkey, west and east Africa, the Middle East, the former Soviet nations…and many more.

Yes, we want to plant a church in Germany that serves German people, but we also want it to be representative of the communities that are here in the city.  And further to that, we are passionate to see our mission efforts overflow from Munich and effect other nations too.  That is why two very important moments in our church planting venture so far were having visitors last summer from church leaders from Serbia and from Macedonia.

Visit of Vlada & Sonja, church planters from Serbia

This coming weekend Rada will be attending a Prophetic Missions Conference in Niš, Serbia.  This is all about being blessed by brothers and sisters from other nations and about being a blessing to the nations.  It is about laying a DNA for our church community in Munich that has a great love for other cultures and passion to serve other nations.  We’re very excited to see what will happen this weekend and eagerly looking to the future and building a church that has Jesus’ commission to his church right at its heart!

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.

 

God’s Ambassadors

My cousin Jason, and his wonderful family, have been living on a creek in the Amazon for a significant number of years.  At the end of last year Jason sent me this encouragement which has stayed with me powerfully:

…you are God’s ambassadors, sent by the Spirit, with the highest calling that any created being can receive, to proclaim Christ! This is why you live in that particular street, work for that particular company, why your children go to those particular schools, why you shop where you shop…

The German word for embassy has the same meaning as the word for message – die Botschaft.  (Of course the etymological path is similar in English, just not as obvious.)  So ambassadors have a message to proclaim!  This little linguistic nugget reminded me of Jason’s words.

This is important to me because our phase of life and mission at the moment could at times be described as mundane, it is often hard work and not quite what I imagined ‘missionary life’ was like while I was growing up reading about Christians sent to far flung corners of the globe.  For us, this means the kids getting out the house before 7am for school, continuing to struggle through German language, challenging employment, periods of isolation.  However, on those dark mornings and weary evenings it is important for us to remember that we are ambassadors for Christ!

This means our mission is of the highest purpose and our equipper is of the highest calibre.  Like Q is always giving James Bond gadgets that come in handy at just the right moment, God has many good gifts for us to help us achieve the mission.  Sometimes that might include an Aston Martin, but even when your car is not what you might want, the spiritual gifts that God gives us are vital and should not be taken for granted or neglected.

The calling goes for all Christians everywhere!  When life feels tough, boring, discouraging, painful, hopeless etc. etc. then we remember on whose behalf we are living and for what purpose….we are God’s ambassadors, sent by the Spirit, to proclaim Christ!

The latest UK mission team came to help us in January. Next one due out in April.

 

A Church Planting Hero

There is one member of our church planting team who has been part of the dream before we even considered Munich to be a potential location to plant. This member of the team as experienced all the celebrations and all the tears. She has counted the cost in her own life, borne the risk and jumped with us when we took the plunge.

We wanted to use this blog space to honour our 14 year old daughter and the part she is playing in this church planting adventure. You cannot overestimate the courage, tenacity and determination that Anya has displayed over the years in getting to this point where we are now living in Munich and actively planting a church.

We were resolved that Anya would be an active part of the decision making process in this big life decision, but this doesn’t mean that all Anya had to do was simply jump on board with all the excitement. Anya had to make some big sacrifices, not least leaving precious things behind; one of the most wonderful schools imaginable, some very close friends and the horses at the stables where she had been helping out and getting riding lessons.

Now we are here in Munich there are some great things to enjoy but there is also a life to be lived which comes with all its challenges and difficulties. For example, the German grammar school system can be demanding and Anya has the increased challenge of being required to succeed academically in a language she has been speaking for just over a year. And of course, trying to forge new friendships is never easy – even when you are used to having to start over again. (We counted that this is Anya’s 7th school in less than 9 years)

Anya is an intrinsic part of church life here and seems to have the gift of service etched deep within her. We have held fortnightly services in our home for the last year and anyone who has attended church for any amount of time will know what a challenge getting ready for church on a Sunday morning can be. Yet in the tiredness and busyness of a Sunday morning it will be Anya who is vacuuming and dusting at 8:00am, helping helping prepare the church breakfast and then welcoming new guests with her friendly conversation.

Anya is a star. She is so much fun, insanely intelligent, utterly unique and resilient beyond her years. We are privileged to journey with her – our daughter and co-worker in Christ.

God Loves Munich – first event!

On Sunday 29th October we hosted our first public event as a church plant.  As we are a small team we needed to enlist a lot of help from friends [*credits below] but it was a great feeling to make a positive statement about who we are, what we believe, and what we are dreaming of.

We hired a room above one of Munich’s most iconic beerkellers hoping to make the statement that though we are an international team we desire to plant a German church!  So the location was stunning and we did our best to put together a programme that pointed to God and communicated about his heart for the city of Munich and the nations.

We were enormously blessed by a team of 8 wonderful individuals from Trinity Church London.  For 48 hours before our event hey prayed, they prophesied, they walked the streets, they sat in cafes, they encouraged, they connected with people – anything to build the kingdom of God.  Thank you!

Quite simply, the amount of people who came to help us and support us was the most encouraging thing that could have happened to us.  Of the 35 people who attended, 26 were there because they were helping or providing moral support.  Thank you so much to each one of you.

The other 9 people were also wonderfully encouraging, and the reason that we are here in Munich.  They were diverse in nationality (Malaysian, American, Montenegrin, German, Russian) and all there for different reasons.  Our sincere and deep prayer is that we can remain in contact with them and support them on their discipleship journey.

We hope this event will be regular but it certainly won’t be frequent.  The nitty gritty of what we do as a church planting team is meeting with people individually, informally and semi-formally.  We really believe that the work of discipleship in this post-christian era is achieved through spending quality time with people, not through getting people to attend church meetings.  With this in most of  our activities for the rest of this academic year will all take place in cafes, bars, work places and round dining tables.

Nevertheless, we are planning similar events in January, April and July.  Please do consider coming out to help us with these.  We are especially low on numbers supporting us for the January mission weekend (11-14th).

To whet your appetite here is a little video that Anya put together:

*With thanks to:
Trinity Church London
Duncan Hanton
Uli Pfauth
shirtboxx.de
Susie Minnear
Ronya Lunz
Tabitha
Jonathan Spybey
James Williams
Hofbräukeller
intheflock.com
Tom Kingdom
….everyone who came along to support us
….everyone who prayed and sent encouragements
….and of course the Gateway Church Munich team!

 

Announcing…..Gateway Church München!

13 months after arrival in Munich we have achieved a significant amount in terms of establishing family life and we have placed a fairly ‘under the radar’ flag in the ground that we are here to plant a church in Munich.

As church planters you are always wanting to promote what you are doing because, quite simply, you need people.  Yet at the same time you don’t want to be pretending that you are something you are not.  Doing too much publicity too early can be more damaging than not doing enough publicity later on.  Worst of all, you can be putting yourselves under piles of pressure!

Nevertheless, we feel the time is ripe to take our church planting venture to the next stage.  We have a name, a website and a trio of social media platforms.  Please do take a look, like, follow, write a message, tweet, share etc. etc.

Links to website and social media:

gatewaychurch.de

    

We believe there are people in Munich, Germany, UK and the wider world who need to come and join our church planting team and co-work with us in this God inspired venture.  Please help us get the word out!  (All welcome but bonus points for German speakers!!)

Also, we need something tangible to be able to point new Munich contacts to.  We now have points of reference that we can share with new people we meet to give them the option to follow-up with us if they wish, meaning people can find out about our meetings, values and events.

Finally, a large and worthy shout out to our web designer/builders  intheflock.com.  These guys have been incredibly generous, helpful and professional.  They have served us, been patient with us and shared their skills and passion to enable Gateway Church München to have a website that we believe is just perfect for the stage of church planting we are at.  Thank you sincerely!

 

9 Reasons to be a Food Delivery Rider

A post from Nathan

Which famous figure said this about the capital of France…?

Fantastic bike ride through Paris. I cannot say this enough: to truly appreciate a city, get on a bike.

Answer at the bottom of the post!

Since March I’ve been earning part of our family living by riding around Munich delivery restaurant food to offices and apartments.  Here is a list of 9 reasons why this is a great job…

  1. Learning about local culture.  If you were to move to a new city and you enjoy riding your bike then there are few things I’d recommend more than signing up to work with a restaurant delivery company like Deliveroo or Foodora*.  You see all parts of the city centre from 11am until midnight and are absorbing all the details of how people interact and how the city works.
  2. It keeps you fit.  I have only been running once since I started the job, yet I am the lightest (and presumably fittest) I have been for years.
  3. You learn to appreciate tipping.  I have always been a fan of tipping service staff but now I am an all out champion for being generous with your change.  I know industries could do away with tipping by paying decent wages in the first place but nevertheless there are few better feelings than climbing to the top of five flights of stairs, wet and cold, handing over a bag of fast food and then receiving a smile and a few euros.  By the way, I wouldn’t want to start an argument but in my experience men are twice as likely to tip as women and sushi eaters hardly ever tip!
  4. Beautiful Sights.  I guess some cities are better than others but Munich is a stunning city to cycle around.  The river, the architecture, the bridges, the churches, the streets, the unique skyline.  One favourite of mine is riding across the mostly deserted festival ground for Oktoberfest when it is out of season.

    The festival ground for Oktoberfest during a quieter part of the year

  5. No boss and no employees.  My boss is a smartphone app that never gets annoyed with me and I am responsible for nobody.
  6. Spending part of your life outside.  One of the worst things about the world of work is that you are likely to spend most of your time either in the office or in the car.  With this job you are outside, seeing the sunsets, feeling the sun, the wind and the rain.  Even though you are in the middle of a big city you feel connected with creation.
  7. It keeps you humble. Riding around in pink uniform or, worse, falling off your bike whilst wearing pink, certainly help one to keep an appropriate opinion of oneself.
  8. People watching.  What better way to maximise your people watching than to ride around on a bike?  You see hundreds of people everyday and every shift there are multiple fascinating things to see….people getting arrested, nudists, surfers, musicians, beer sozzled tourists, road ragers….and the list goes on.  Below is a video of a guy I found surfing on the river during the recent high water levels.
  9. It gives you a passion for the city.  As a church planter the passion you feel for your mission field is really important and cannot be stirred up on demand.  It is a great privilege to spend a chunk of time in the city, seeing the people and everyday life and dreaming of what God will do.

*Other food delivery services are available!

The answer to the question at the top is none other the Austro-American politician and celebrity….Arnold Schwarzenegger 

 

If you can’t have fun doing it, then it’s not worth doing!

A post from Nathan on having a great time and church constitutions!

Question:  Do you know how to make writing a church constitution a more palatable experience?

Answer:  Do it in a Bavarian Biergarten!

Let me introduce you to a new hero of mine.  This is Andi.  Andi and his wife, Annika, have been rocks for us these last nine months that we have been in Munich.  They really really know how to love and care for people and have done everything they can to make our transition to Munich easier.

Andi and I have been trying to make the time to sit down and work on the legal constitution for our church plant.  Of course this is not a glamorous exercise but Andi made it a much more memorable and fun experience by suggesting we work on it in a Beer Garden and then he brought along a feast of traditional Bavarian food.  It was actually quite a profound feeling to be surrounded by rich Bavarian culture whilst working on a document that is aimed at reaching out to the people of Munich.

One of the first lessons of Church Planting is that the whole thing needs a huge dose of fun.  You can’t afford to take yourself too seriously otherwise you will soon end up demoralised and burnt out.  And who wants to join a group of people who don’t enjoy themselves?  Our task is deeply serious but we intend to have a great time along the way.  I am so grateful to have people like Andi and Annika with us who love us and help us make sure that we keep life and ministry fun and light.

Of course, we are on the look out for like minded people to join us on this journey!  Do you like to have a good time??  Do you have a passion for the local church??  If yes, then what better way to spend your time than helping a church plant in the wonderful city of Munich get started.  You will be having a historical impact on the city of Munich and beyond, and will be having a ball along the way.  Get in touch!

 

Why Djoković is more useful than Federer

Rada outlines why Novak Djoković is more useful in life than Roger Federer!

If you saw our little video from yesterday, you will know that we have been on a weekend away with a church near Basel, Switzerland.

It’s not a secret that I’m a big fan of Novak Djoković.  So this weekend I have largely avoided any tennis references because I just don’t think my good friends from Basel (home town of Roger Federer, the Moriarty of Nole’s fans!) would have seen my point of view and also because my love for Nole might cause them to disregard anything good I might have to say. My friend Becky, the world’s number one Roger fan, certainly would not have taken anything I had to say seriously!

Life is a little bit like a tennis match.  Most of the time it is fairly mundane, just passing the ball over the net, plodding along, fighting for every point, every game.  Sometimes it even gets exciting. An occasional slide across the court for a fantastic return, sometimes a brilliant point at the net and other times just an amazing finish after a long rally…you get the picture.

Anyway, back to Djoković. I just love his passion for the game, his skill and determination, his fighting spirit and not giving up when it’s hard. When the game doesn’t go to plan, he mutters to himself, shouts at his coaches, hits himself on the head, throws a racket in frustration etc. He also has a head coach who is closely watching his every move, rejoices with him with every won point, sympathetically nods when it’s hard going, knowing ultimately that he taught him everything he needs to know to play a perfect match.

What I love the most about Djoković is his fist pump! It usually happens after a particularly difficult point or when he gets back from behind, and finally when he wins the match!!  His coach and the team would do a fist pump in return.  I also give God, my head coach, a fist pump every time I manage to get up after a fall, every time I remember what he taught me, every time I pick up the racket I threw down in frustration and carry on playing, and every time I win a game. When times are hard, I look up to my box and see him nod at me in approval, sometimes gently shaking his head when I mutter and shout but he is always there, always looking after me. So, my life is like a game of tennis, the only difference is that I know that I will win this match, not because I’m so amazing, but because God has won this game for me already.

Munich Life Update

It is eight months to the day since we arrived in Munich and time for a brief, general update.

We finally have a Kindergarten place for Aleksa to begin 1st June.  The downside is that it is almost a two hour round trip to get there.  Nevertheless, we are really grateful and looking forward to him having regular contact with German peers.  He has been a real star patiently waiting for this – he was last in education in July last year.

After the Easter holidays Anya was informed that she will be permitted to enrol as an official Gymnasium (Grammar School) student in her school next year.  This is a great achievement as only 7 of the 23 in her beginners German class are allowed to remain in the school.  This would be a great relief except that we hadn’t realised her place in the school was in any doubt!

Rada is beginning to volunteer helping a refugee with English language once a week.  As a result of Aleksa’s lack of Kindergarten place Rada’s opportunities have been extremely limited.  Nevertheless, Rada has used much of this time to absorb many books and preaches.

Nathan has been working delivering meals on his bike for two months now.  Though a basic salary he is really enjoying the work, getting to know Munich well, and even loosing a little weight!  He got back to his youth work roots with two weeks of children’s camp employment over Easter.

We continue to meet regularly in our apartment for prayer, worship, study and shared food.  We are in the process of finalising a name for the church plant and plotting some activities for the autumn….watch this space!

Celebrating Rada’s little brother’s wedding in Montenegro

From Vauxhall to Volkswagen & the Fear of Bureaucracy/Man

A blog post from Nathan…

It wasn’t possible to find some clear information about what the law said but we knew we couldn’t keep our UK registered car in Germany for ever.  So, we decided to make use of the lack of any forthcoming Kindergarten place for Aleksa and go on a father-son road trip back to the UK with a view to getting our Astra sold.  Within a few days of returning we had managed to buy our first ever German car (a VW Golf – you know ‘when in Rome, live as the Romans’ etc!).

7:15am – Queuing outside Munich council offices

There was just the simple task of re-registering the car in our name.  Surely, that just requires a slip of paper to be popped in the post?  Nope.  This was to be one of the seemingly never-ending tasks that are subject to German bureaucracy.  Of course, German paperwork and public workers have a certain reputation but I must be honest that sometimes the simplicity of a process can surprise you and, generally, the helpfulness of office staff is outstanding.  However, more often than not reality lives up to reputation and you are left with hours of your life sacrificed and a little more hair torn out.  This was one such case….

Nevertheless, after the phone calls, internet searches, face to face advice, queuing in the open air from 7.15am, formally defacing the old number plates in the council office, then nipping to the bakery(!) next door where you have the new number plates made and paying 76 euros for the pleasure of it all we were the proud owners of a Munich registered car!

Munich plates!

Our apartment comes with an extra garage space which we are trying to rent out at the moment so this morning I was sticking up posters in the neighbourhood and putting flyers on cars parked outside.  Every time I heard somebody come out of the  apartment block I noticed an anxiety in myself, similar to the feelings endured in the council offices at various points over the last six months.  The feeling that I was about to be told I was breaking some rule and must stop at once otherwise I will face the penalty.

 

Reflecting on this I don’t think it would be fair to blame my trepidation on German culture.  As an immigrant there is genuinely a feeling that you must negotiate all the processes perfectly without guidance otherwise you will be in trouble.  However, I am sure this is not deliberate and that most Germans, whilst they don’t enjoy sitting in waiting rooms any more than the next person, are quite comfortable with the system. (I’d be interested what Germans think?)

So what is the root of my anxiety?  I think it ultimately comes down to a personal weakness of ‘Fear of Man’ – or worrying about what others will think of me.  I know I am not alone in this but I believe it is a trait that holds us back from achieving our ambitions and obeying God in the big and small things of life.

One example of this fear holding me back is in how I interact with the community around us.  We live in a neighbourhood that is saturated with families, students, Germans, new immigrants and established immigrants.  Many interesting and wonderful people that we would love to get to know and participate with in community life.  We believe we are in Munich because we have something to offer to the local community but it is often a real challenge to break the ice and start talking with strangers.  Yes, our limited German is a genuine obstacle.  However, I observe that beyond that for me is this ‘fear of man’.  I am sometimes more concerned what a stranger might think of me if I started talking to them than I am of the potentially positive consequence of our encounter.

I write this not to be self-deprecating but because I think a little accountability to those who support us and are interested in us is helpful.  Also, because I believe this is not a weakness unique to myself and I believe that it is God’s desire that we are not held back by such fear.

The Bible records the story of Pentecost.  After Jesus had ascended to heaven the disciples were gathered, fearful in a house unable to begin the the mission that he had called them to.  But then the Holy Spirit came and filled the place where they were and filled them too.  They were equipped to go out and proclaim the Good News of Jesus and make disciples of all nations.  That promise of the Holy Spirit is for all Christians.  It is so helpful to make it a daily exercise to recognise that the Holy Spirit dwells within you and to ask that you would be equipped to do all you need to do to be a disciple of Jesus.

You can read this first hand in the book of Acts, chapter 2.  In the meantime, please do keep praying for us and praying that, whether we find ourselves sat in a council office waiting room or walking through our neighbourhood, we would be engaging with the Holy Spirit so that we can impact the communities around us and that God’s kingdom would be built.

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