Review: Spring Mission Festival
"When God calls you, say “Yes”!"
“Preaching” can look quite different from what you expect
As Mary collapses weeping before the cross, the visitors of DMG's Spring Mission Festival in Sinsheim on the 19thMay, also have tears in their eyes. They are excited along with Mary, as a teenager still rather naïve, when she says “Yes” to the angel and receives her baby from God. They experience the fear when no one believes her, not even her fiancé. They are deeply touched by Mary’s joy, suffering and the many miracles of Jesus as they walk with her, thanks to the theatrical “sermon” by Actress / Theologian Birte Papenhausen (WEC, Eppstein). In a solo play during the service, she masterfully and movingly recounts the life of Jesus from the point of view of his mother. The conclusion of the aging Mary after a satisfying life full of surprises, disappointments and miracles is anything but naïve: "If God asks you to do something: say “Yes”!
Birte Papenhausen as Maria
Message from Dr. Markus Völker
DMG Director, Günther Beck, explained how important a holistic proclamation of the Biblical message is. Like Birte Papenhausen's play, it speaks into the feelings and world of the audience and conveys faith emotionally and visually for the right hemisphere of the brain, not only appealing to reason. Society is radically changing; away from reading, towards observing and experiencing. It is important that churches and congregations live and preach differently in order to respond to this change. "We need to build more on experience, have more fellowship, eat, play, take the time to spend together, and preach Jesus in the midst of everyday life - with life and words." Worship and preaching are done all week long, not just from the front on Sunday morning. We need to learn how to inspire people with Jesus who are not used to reading.
Applying the Bible
Birte Papenhausen later explained why this form of proclamation is so important: "Two thirds of the world's population relate better to a visual sermon relevant to everyday life. In Mongolia, her former country of assignment as a missionary, hardly anyone could relate to an academic three-point sermon. There is a need for living messages that take us into the joys and needs of Biblical characters. "The Bible does that, we just have to apply it." The dramatist theologian called for a radical change in Biblical theological education: "In addition to the academic, young theologians must learn how to give context to the message with interaction, drama and heart. Like Jesus, we must illustrate with parables, biographies and everyday objects". In this way we can again reach the low and lower-middle classes that we have preached past for years.
“God says “Yes” to you, unconditionally”
The theme of the Spring Mission Festival - "Say yes!" - is a reminder that God has called many to go and change the world. How he spoke to people like Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jonah and how they found a “Yes” to his calling. How Christians find their “Yes” for God's mission today was clearly expressed by the new missionaries: Sebastian and Fabiana Braun are moving to a prefab, high-rise district in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern where only a tiny minority are believing Christians. They will help with street-work and invite the people to meet Jesus. Educator Christine Seifert is moving to a slum area in Bangkok, Thailand's megacity, where she will be there for children. Paulus and Gabi Hieber want to use video production courses to train Christians in countries with restricted religious freedom to pass on their faith through modern media. In 2019/20 the DMG has 30 new missionaries who are saying “Yes” to a role in another culture.
It’s worth it to say “Yes”
Anne, a 44-year-old children's nurse, who trains nurses in South Asia, made it clear that it is not always easy, even for a long-standing worker, to hold on to her “Yes” to God in her work in another culture. "Even today there are moments when I don't understand what makes people tick in my country," she said honestly. In 15 years in Asia, she has experienced a lot, but that doesn't make it any easier: the hot climate, attacks, crime and the terrible hardship of many people still bother her today. "The worst thing is the lack of staff in our hospital," she said. It still takes a lot of effort to overcome hesitations, knowing what it involves to work overseas. What helps her to get back on the plane happily? "That God is faithful, that he does not leave me alone and that I have experienced again and again how he blesses me". It is worth it: "The people see that I have persevered, so they listen to me and trust me". Today she has many local friends with whom she can share and live her faith.
New: DMG’s Volunteer Program
DMG presented its new program for volunteers to around 80 interested people. Hans and Carmen Ziefle, two former South American missionaries who are leading the new program, emphasized that "we are looking for volunteers who are enthusiastic for God's mission in this world." Possible tasks for these DMG volunteers are translation, graphic design, migrant help in Germany, mission mobilization and the representation of the DMG in churches. "We are looking for Christians who can commit themselves for about two hours a week for two to three years," said the Ziefles. The difference from the past is that as genuine, fully-fledged DMG members, they are given a volunteer contract, business cards, an e-mail address and training and are properly integrated into the team, which gives them dignity and status. "There are many areas where we need help," they reported. The first training seminar will take place at the Buchenauerhof from 21 to 24 November. Those interested can obtain information at Ehrenamt@DMGint.de .
The “Yes” comes first from God.
Dr. Markus Völker, DMG missionary, leader of a global Theological Correspondence School work, emphasized in the Biblical Word in the afternoon that our “Yes” to God can always only be an answer to God's “Yes” to us: "God unconditionally says “Yes” to you! Despite sin". This applies to the whole of humanity from creation until today - even more so to the individual human being from birth to death, "because he created us, because he loves us, because he longs for fellowship with us and because he wants to celebrate eternity with us", said the Theologian. "We rejoice over every person in the world who says “Yes” to Jesus.
Games, fun and good music
The Spring Mission Festival was accompanied musically by Simon Georg (DMG’s head of Public Relations) and band. They played compellingly sensitive guitar and piano, the singing of Tabea Falter touched the soul. Simon's self-composed song "Sag ja!" highlighted the theme of the event: "If you feel that Jesus gave you a gift, if you know that he gave his life, answer him when he knocks on your door. When God calls you, say "Yes"".
This "Yes" to God was also expressed in the separate program for 70 children and 40 teenagers. Kids-team Germany, the Children's Ministry of the DMG, and the missionary Martin Waldvogel (usually in Zimbabwe) explained the good news of the Bible to the children with word and music. The “play street” and the bouncy pirate ship also provided a lot of fun. The visitors from all over Germany visibly enjoyed the beautiful May weather and the fellowship with each other and with almost 100 of the 400 DMG workers worldwide.