Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ramona! Ramona! Ramona!

One thing is for sure: We love Ramona Ehret! She lives in Berlin and helps with European Initiative. So what makes her special? Is it the fact that she was totally selfless and willing to do whatever it took to help Texans acclimate to the Berlin culture? Was it the fact that she “walks the walk” where her faith is concerned. Do I particularly love her because she (like me) has a past; yet does what Paul wrote about forgetting what is behind and pressing toward the mark. (Phil 3:12-14) Maybe it is her cute smile and warm heart. Maybe it is the excellent job she did helping us with translation. Maybe it was her patience. Or maybe it was her fun sense of humor. I think that all those had a lot to do with the reason why she is so special to all of us. But one can’t deny the light that shines through her life. She is a testament to the faithful potter taking a work and turning it into a piece of art that pleases the Maker. Our lives are better because our paths crossed with hers. And there can be no better thing said about a person in my humble opinion. Here she talks candidly on a Berlin train.

The Pupils From The Pulpit: a lesson in unbelievable hospitality!

East Berlin has over 1.5 million people but very few Christians. Thanks to amazing men like Pastor Winfried Rudloff, this church is a beacon of light and hope in a neighborhood once controlled by the notorious Stasi. Here two of the Mission Berlin team members Scott Sage and Brenda Robson get a chance to speak to the members of Christus Gemeinde church. Jeff Serio gives an introduction. Words can't express their warmth and hospitality towards us. And it was a real treat being able to worship with them. Translators sat with us and helped us understand what was being said. If you have the resources, they are praying for $40,000E to build a kitchen where they can distribute food to the poor of East Berlin. Pray about helping this church. They are the “real deal”. If you have no financial support available, one can always make mention of them in their prayers. (Romans 1:9)

PS: If you speak German, you will notice one of the greatest speech faux pas ever done in a church. Ask a team member what was said, and what was meant. They are radically different.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day Four: trains, pains, brains, and bonding for life.

The one consistent thing about our trip was the fact that we were going to have to spend a lot of time in the metro stations riding the trains. The U-Bahn” is a Berliner’s best friend. The stations were clean and safe. The trains ran with amazing German efficiency and accuracy. The ride was not as fast as the Moscow screamers, but not glacier-slow either. And the environment was definitely “target rich” for ministry and fellow shipping with the locals. We had some of the most amazing encounters on the trains. Ask one of the team members to tell you a story.

This ain't your daddy's East Berlin

I guess one of the things that blew me away about East Berlin is the fact that it is not an old, gray, oppressed blocky neighborhood. Since the fall of Communism there, it is being renovated and has become the haven for all kinds of young professionals and creative artistic types. Close to the Ann Frank apartment, in a secluded alleyway, there is a large piece of art nestled around galleries and coffee houses. For a mere pittance, one can make it come to life. Don’t ask me what it is, or what it means. Just take it for what it is: art!

Friday, September 3, 2010

In Praise of The Platz!

By now if you have had any dealings with the Berlin mission team, they have undoubtedly told you about some kind of encounter with a person in Alexanderplatz. This video is taken in the dreaded platz. I say dreaded because they is where some of the “worst of the worst” hang out. And it is a target rich environment for street evangelism and for sharing the grace and mercy of God. Jesus said that those who are well do not need a physician, but those who are sick. And here is where we saw some of the most spiritually/physically/emotionally sick people on this trip. And where sin does abound, grace does much more abound. We saw miracles nothing short of the Book of Acts performed in this square. I was spit on and had beer poured on me here. But I also saw healings and miracles on this same piece of ground. In this video we have some real targets of intense prayer to this date. Ask us about “Screamie”, “Soccer boy” “Bosti” and others in this video. And some night when you are laying in your bed, please mention this piece of ground by name in your prayers. This is the place where 500,000 people rallied and prayed demanding freedom; and the Berlin wall came down soon after. This is also the place where walls still come tumbling down.

The Dynamic Duo

I think Solomon said it best when he said that “two are better than one” in Ecclesiastes 4:9. Here is how the New Living Translation puts it: “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” There aren’t really any words I can put down to tell you about the amazing effectiveness of Scott and Brenda Robson during this trip. God told me at one time early on that He had “hand-picked this team”. And I became really confused when they later said that they would not be able to go on this trip. But God knew what he was talking about. And these two spiritual warriors made an amazing impact on the people of Berlin. People fight battles in different ways and with a plethora of weapons. Brenda used her art talent to minister to street people like I could never have imagined. And Scott simply showed himself to be a spiritual warrior king in all his dealings. He was a great mix of humble servant and prayerful priest. And together, they make a threefold cord that will not easily be broken. (Eccl 4:12) It was an honor for us to have served in Berlin with them both.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wall Musings: 5 Videos Taken From The Berlin Wall

Here is Jeff Serio of European Initiative explaining the East Wall Gallery.

Scott Robson explains controversial Berlin Wall picture.

Rolf explains what the dead zone was and Jeff Serio talks about what it is like to be a Christian missionary in East Berlin.

Steve Foss has a brief explanation of what laid on the other side of the Berlin Wall.

Brian vandalizes the Berlin Wall

Saturday, August 7, 2010

America's Got Talent!

When I Grow Up I Want To Be Like Winfried Rudloff!

I met some absolutely amazing people on this trip who completely changed my life forever. I'll tell you about some of the others later. But this film is of one of the greatest men I have ever had the honor of meeting. His name is Winfried Rudloff and he is the pastor of the second largest church in East Berlin named Christus Gemeinde. We visited his church so that he could take us on a tour of the recently discovered and opened to the public prison of the East German secret police named the Stasi. More about that place later because I am actually starting to tear up as I recall visiting that place.

He was a great host and very hospitable. Here he tells us a little bit about what it was like being a Christian in East Berlin before the fall of Communism. I'm sure Stalin is rolling over in his grave as the testimonies of East German Christians are published abroad. And don't forget that Putin himself was a KGB agent in Berlin for many years before his rise to the true head of the Russian Federation.

May I grow up to be just like Winfried Rudloff! May I grow to have his humbleness, his elegance, his faith, and his heart of dedication to his calling. He made me proud to be a Christian. Incidentally, his church is building a kitchen to feed the homeless and disenfranchised ex-Stasi residents of that neighborhood. His church needs $40K. If you have some cash in the bank, this would be a great investment. Contact his church

Einstein and the Burning Books

Trivia question:

What do the following people have in common: communism father Karl Marx, evangelist Dietrich Bonhoeffer, socialism father Friedrich Engels, Nobel Prize winner Max Planck, and genius Albert Einstein. They all attended the university in this short film. Humboldt University was where Albert Einstein was a professor working on relativity and Karl Marx was a student working on communism. The Nazis held a huge book burning in this very square of any book that did not conform to their "family values". And Jeff Serio shows us an amazing prophetic inscription from a bronze plaque in the square from Heinrich Heine.

Eric's Ascent!

OK, so I forgot what this amazing monument symbolizes. And Google is no help. But here is what I DO remember: Eric "Spider Man" Harrison became only the second man ever to scale this monument and stay alive upon descent. This was on Mauerstrasse (wall street) and symbolized the people who had to be relocated quickly and take everything with them. The statue symbolizes their earthly possessions wrapped in blankets and put in a car. Eric will soon be touring with Cirque de Soliel as a high wire acrobat.

If you know the name of this monument please comment.

Christian Vandalism in East Berlin?

This is what's so amazing about grace:

Kim prayed for a public salvation in Boxhagener Park. And she got one, in the form of this man named (oddly enough) Christian. He thought he was too high to get saved because he had smoked a lot of hash. God sobered him up. And he confessed a life of unbelievable sexual depravity. Luckily for us, God's arm is not too short to save, or sober people up. The rest of the story is absolutely amazing.

This is Jork with his famous dog Mr. Spock. Please pray for him. He is a brilliant man who is paying tribute to the god of heroin. May God rescue him!

Behold, the entrance to a High School in East Berlin. The graffiti was so artful, yet so dark. The authors showed their brilliance in painting images of pain, rejection, rage, and hopelessness. Sorry to offend some Christians by the above picture. But if this offends you, you probably won't be able to hang in East Berlin. Not having anyone who will hear, or any way to express what is happening inside emotionally, they turn to spray paint and bricks. Note the picture of the kid with tape over his mouth. Oh how I wish I could talk to the person who painted that special message (f.u.) to their dad. I understand. And I'd love to hold them and pray for them. How can I not share the freedom that was given to me?

This is the "Open" sign for the clandestine brothel across the street from Bree and Kim's Das Garten coffee shop. We prayed. A couple of days later the sign was off and the window closed behind a graffitied steel pull down blind.

Here is a long lost post I found that couldn't get posted in Berlin...which was probably a good thing.

Let’s make a deal, OK?

I have a rare few minutes to sit and type this morning so I’ll spend a portion of doing the things to help assuage the frustration I am feeling right now. And this time I’ll have to open myself up to many people who will read this and don’t know me or my writing style. I am sitting in the middle of a staircase in a very uncomfortable position (Indian style) because this is the only placed I can get a half decent signal. People are walking by and starting up conversations and all I really want is for everyone to leave me alone. How unchristian is that? But at least it’s honest. Being in sales where time management is a key to success, and seeing how poorly I am managing my time here is a real consternation. Alone time is so rare. I am surrounded with fellow Christians who always want to talk about how amazing this place is, or something spectacular they witnessed. And that is good. But my quiet times have been sparse and weak. And my alone moments on a Ubahn platform or a Euro-toilet have been my best bet as to centering my thoughts, receiving spiritual downloads, and praying for the strength and discernment needed to accomplish everything I need to do. So I’ll try to fly through some bullet points.

Here is the deal I’ll make with you as you read this: I’ll spend some time elaborating on all the condensed points I put here this morning. And then this time I’ll follow up on this. The first day here I made a similar deal with God. I asked for the power to do something miraculous. I also asked Him to send me the “worst of the worst”. His only stipulation was that I come back to thank Him like the one healed leper and not as the other nine who just kept going. He showed up by having my paths crossed with Argie and two drunken punks in Alexanderplatz. We spoke to each other of His goodness and power. But I didn’t take the time to fall down and worship. God kept His part of the deal. I didn’t. And I will never make a deal with God that I won’t fulfill my part of the bargain again. Never!

Day 4 points:

Bree and Kim’s world is an amazing experience. These two ladies should tour the world showing people how Christians should live by faith. Their strength and dedication to a cause is such an inspiration to me. I know that the seeds they have planted within me will remain and help me go to the next level spiritually. Solomon said that a threefold cord is not easily broken. And their third cord is my new brother Thilo. We share the experience of having been on the top of the mountain, face to face with God, and yet somehow walked back down to be friends with the world again. Unfortunately, that never works. And this is such a separation plan that we must choose. I think I have helped them a little bit to think offensively about Boxhagenor Park…which now belongs to them. There I met Christian. He is a man who was high on hashish, asked to be delivered, and was set free. We did a good thing that has been noticeably lacking in our approach to outreach: pray over a geographical location BEFORE we get there. As Jayne and I walked around the park we felt like most of the business had been done before arrival. There was an influence of pedophilia around a swimming area where most of the German kids frolic in the water naked. But that is gone now. I was really uncomfortable. Maybe it was the spiritual influence. Maybe it was just some triggers from my own childhood sexual abuse. I don’t know. These three will do amazing things soon. They prayed for public salvations in Boxhagenor Park. And they got two. They prayed for public deliverance. And they got Christian. Praise God for His willingness to let us receive after we merely ask.

We have hundreds of pictures of graffiti in East Berlin. The interesting thing about art is that like the eyes, it is the window to the soul. Some of the paint on a wall or sign post screams to me as I walk by. How I wish I could stop and just heal the person who wrote/drew it. I’ll promise I’ll make a post of nothing but graffiti.

Be sure to ask me about the whorehouse across the street from Bree and Kim’s café and how it was discovered. Also ask about York and Mr. Spock. I am begging God for this one. This would be a story for the ages.

There are strongholds everywhere. We passed two in Bree’s area. And I went in one by Ann Frank’s house that was a little café hidden in a back corner. Jeff Serio told me to go in there and look around. He knew I would get it. I did. Oh My God! I pray that we get to go back there and clean that place out. Probably not though.

Notes on day 5:

Two words: Berlin Wall. I was so overwhelmed when we arrived by the spiritual influence still lingering there that I almost couldn’t take it. There are hundreds of pictures. We’ll post them tonight hopefully. And I’ll post a video that will fully show what manner of place that is.

Passing through Alexanderplatz again we saw some of the punks who were involved in the uprising that got us chased out. One of the kids who doused me with beer and spit on me was there. He had zero reaction to my presence. I wanted to go up and hug him, but I really felt that I needed to keep a least for one more day. These punks are nothing but scared little children looking for a way to regain their power and gain some acceptance. I get that. My whole past was nothing but an attempt to regain the power stolen from me as a child. And that is why we are here; to help those who are really lost and searching unsuccessfully for ways to feel whole again. I love those kids.

I have yet to see and Neo-Nazis or Satanists. I would love to spend some time with them. Maybe God be gracious in that way. Maybe I am not ready yet. Time will tell.

I miss my wife. We see each other all day long every day. But normally I am either running to catch a train, praying for someone, counseling with a fellow Christian, or being a total jerk because something in Berlin triggered me. She walks the streets in wonder and amazement from her first trip to Europe. I walk the streets like someone who has been here many times in my full-blown warrior mode. And that makes a slight incompatibility. She deserves so much more than me. I know God will bless her for her patience.

There is so much more to say but....(censored at the behest of my wife so as not to offend team mates. it was a cranky rant about Americans as travelers. we were all very tired at this point)......More later!

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Punk's Portrait, a proud parent and a persuasive proclaimation!

Well as I write this I am beyond exhaustion at midnight Friday night, our fifth day, but I may not have access to the computer again for awhile so I’ll press on. (But just before the stroke of 12……HAPPPY BIRTHDAY DAVID!!!! Can’t believe we are not with you on your 19th birthday but hey, you were invited! Lol! I hope you had a very fun day!)

I LOVE Berlin!. I have never felt so excited about a city before. I told Ramona, our Christian intern, guide and now friend, that it’s like people just gave a box of crayons to some kids and said, color me a city!!!!

There are random murals next to 13th century gothic cathedrals. Crazy colors and designs on every building and on every person!!!

As we were meeting people on our secong day at Alexander Platz, I was very drawn to a young man with pink and blue hair named Sebastian. My husband and I were witnessing to him and to our amazement he was open to talking. He told us he was “spiritualbut not into anything but Buddhism. After much discussion, we were about to get into thewell if you are right, no problem, but if we are right…..there is a major problem”. But at this point Sebastian’s “friendthrew a beer on our friend Steve and that was the end of that (although Steve handled it with much compassion and love) our window of opportunity was closed.

So the next day, at thehippie park” Boxhaganer, I painted a portrait of Sebastian while others were witnessing. I painted him on his knees with his hand on his heart and chains broken off of his ankle. I guess I was just sad that this boy who was so obviouslyworldly” was in reality just a broken 13 year old boy inside. I met a man named Mario who asked for prayer, after discussing my portrait, for his friend Peter. Apparently Mario was mixed up in drugs and his friend had an overdose and Mario did not. After that, he got involved in Narcotics Anonymous and found God.

What really surprised me was that on our way to eat the following day, I spotted Bastion! He was miles away from where we had originally seen him. In front of a church that dates to the 1200s, this punk kid saw his portrait! I was able to pull the portrait out and show him.
He was so psyched! The boy who was with him was delighted to pose for a picture (this was the same boy who had thrown a beer on my friend Steve as he preached!) There was no anger, just excitement, as he looked at the portrait. I think he was touched that I had thought enough of him to paint him and when I told him thatGod Loved Him”! I know he heard me. The rest is up to God!

Yanira is a YouTube star. And God is still in the miracle business.

Sorry Folks! Because of the crazy Internet connection here at Genadenhaus, I have to only list a link from YouTube. But this lady is amazing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day Three: School Days!

All I can say about day three is that we got schooled. We started in East Berlin in a place called Jerusalem Church. This is a house that was owned by a German Jew who died and left it to the country of Israel. Eventually it became a home church. So we sat in a circle in the basement and prayed for the people of East Berlin. It felt like I imagined the Jews must have looked at the time that they were being arrested and deported to camps. It kind of felt that way anyway.

We finally got to experience the pride of Berliners: curry wurst. All I have heard about this German delicacy is that it is a staple of all who live in this city. Filled with culinary anticipation, we went to a sidewalk café and ordered some. What a disappointment. Imagine a sausage that has the consistency of a Great Value brat from Wal-Mart. Than see it getting cut into pieces, smothered with ketchup, and sprinkled with a little curry powder. Totally underwhelming! We actually had better sausages at the Black Forest café on Northwest Highway in Dallas.

The two stories I want to leave you with in the limited time I have are as follows:

1. While we were at a square a man on crutches came up to me and said that he had some demons that needed to be cast. He was a German who spoke fairly good English because he spent some time at a Bible college in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He talked a lot about being scammed by so called ministers in America who were only out for his money. He is a man of serious means. Unfortunately, we were getting ready to leave to head over to the infamous Alexanderplatz. So we asked him if he wanted to go with us. He did. Ask us for details because this story is going to absolutely knock your socks off. All I can say is that the story ended with a mime being chased, a financial prayer being answered, Italians being astounded, and shouting in the square. This was the first series of shouts in the square. The second was of a different nature soon after.

2. There are no words I can write about the punk culture in Alexanderplatz that you will believe, so I won’t even try. Unfortunately our notoriously slow Internet connection won’t let ius upload pictures or any of the hours of amazing video footage we have shot. I’ll try to get to an Internet café soon and get ‘er done. But we spent some time getting right smack in the middle of their world. And to steal a line “it was the best of times and the worst of times”. It ended with getting spit on, doused in beer, pelted with any object that they could throw, and chased from the square. Alexanderplatz is a definite stronghold of a Reich that is still very much alive; at least spiritually anyway. But I firmly believe that before we leave here this Reich will fall. It is only day there after all.

To all of you who supported this trip financially, know that you have invested your money wisely. Time and bad Internet keep me from telling tales of how amazing this trip has been so far. And those who wish you had contributed, it’s not too late. You are being a part of something that I haven’t dreamed possible. It seems like we have been here for years. And there is still 10 days to go. Game face on and marching toward the goal.

Steve Foss

Day 2 pics

This is the exact spot where the Bourne Supremacy was filmed. Here is Matt Damon jumping on a river barge.

Slow Children and the shattered myths

I apologize for having to write about day two events on the morning of the third day. But yesterday was a very long and hard day both physically and emotionally. There is an eighties new wave band named Slow Children that sang a great song which has been stuck in my head for days titledEast Berlin By Rail”. And as I sit here by an open window feeling the cool German air wafting through this room and thinking about what to write of yesterday’s events, the song will probably be stuck there for quite a bit longer.

Our day began with an amazing session with a German pastor here named Kristoph. For time’s sake I’ll spare you the details. But suffice it to say that he isthe real deal”. He embodies everything that the American church lacks. The discussion we had with him was nothing short of life changing for me. And I’ll go into more detail on another blog post. Our trip into downtown Berlin through the train system is always an adventure. Rubbing shoulders with such an enigmatic people is like Forrest Gump’s “box of chocolates”. You never know what you are about to get. Encounters with a wheel chaired dwarf named Sven, a hardened man with karate supplies, various people with very Satanic body art, and curious Berliners who try to stealthily eavesdrop on our English conversations make the rides seem short.

East Berlin! I’m not sure what to write. I had always heard that it is the worst part of Berlin due to the fact that it is gray and ominous. My illusions were completely shattered yesterday. There are now only two cities in this world that I can say are utterly remarkable. Granted, I have been in some very interesting cities; London, Los Angeles, Paris, etc. But only Moscow and East Berlin had me walking the streets literally amazed at the beauty and strangeness. East Berlin is gorgeous, weird and wonderful, spiritually dead, unique, and a place I could see myself living. Now rebuilt, it is a haven for all the artsy types, socially lost people, and young success mongers. I’ll go into more details later and try to get lots of video up to YouTube today. The place where Ann Frank lived and was deported is nothing short of surprising. Yes, she is known for hiding in Holland. But few know that she was a Berliner before her famous exploits in the dairy. And ask us about the stumbling blocks embedded into the streets.

And I’ll also go into more details about our visit to the Holocaust Museum. All I can say is that I became so overwhelmed that I felt the need to run as far and as fast from that place as possible. Yes, I’ve seen all the movies on that subject. And yes I’ve been a little choked up with each viewing. But to somehow make that event personal is like getting hit in the heart with a bullet. This place makes it real because you now see these victims as real people with real lives. And yes, their energy and spirits still seem to cry out from beyond the graves for justice. Even now I start to tear up as I type this. So let’s move on.

The day’s expanded highlights including finding the best food on the planet in a local Mc Donald’s. See the video. And it ended with an unbelievably great time in Karl’s home church. I met Karl in America when he came here seeing the country. We became friends at Babe’s Chicken Restaurant in Carrollton. And we became brothers in arms last night in his living room. His home church is a group of Christians who are definitely situated right in the heart of the battle zone. One would never know that his modern home complete with stylish furniture and quaint garden is located in East Berlin about 400 yards from where the wall was. They needed encouragement. And God used us to supply it in abundance. And for that honor I am truly thankful. I must go. I promise I’ll write more tonight.

This trip seems like it has been a decade long. But this is only day three. Einstein was right about his theories on time.

Steve Foss