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Hundreds needed to volunteer for summertime German crusade

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–A land of “dry bones” calls for
jazz. It longs for puppet shows. It responds to drama. And
Southern Baptists can fill the need.
The German Baptist Union has a vision to introduce its
younger generations to Jesus Christ. The union has requested
volunteer teams who can use innovative evangelism methods
such as music, drama, mime, puppets and sports in a June
17-30 national crusade.
Thirty-two teams of eight to 10 people are needed for
the summer campaign. The deadline to enlist is the end of
For years, Germans largely have ignored traditional
evangelistic efforts such as preaching. The spiritual
condition of the land of Luther and the Reformers might come
as a great surprise to many Christians, notes International
Mission Board missionary Nelson Howard.
“According to many surveys, as few as 1.5 percent of
Germans actually have a personal relationship with Jesus
Christ,” Howard said. “More than 50 percent do not even
believe there is a God.”
He added that free churches, including Baptists,
compose about 0.6 percent of Germany’s population. The two
state churches, which are Lutheran and Catholic, lost a
combined 466,000 members in 1995, largely due to an
increasing desire of many to be free of the “church tax”
which is the only connection most members of the state
church have with their church. Surveys indicate as few as 3
percent of the members actually participate in the life of
their state church.
In October 1997, North Ridgeville Baptist Church in
North Ridgeville, Ohio, sent a nine-member volunteer team to
work in Haldensleben in the former East Germany. The most
popular event of their trip was an American party, with
Christian music, popcorn, cupcakes, water balloons and
games. More than 100 people attended the event. One woman
accepted Christ after the party.
Haldensleben is one of the 32 German cities requesting
a volunteer team for 1998. The German Baptist Union
recognized the effectiveness of such creative ministry
outlets and wants to make the most of this new avenue into
Germans’ hearts.
“In many ways, the former East Germany stands with
doors open for those who have tried to live in communistic
atheism and experienced the terrible vacuum which engulfs
those who try to live without God,” Howard said. “In the
more secular West, depression is epidemic. Many times,
religion class in school includes New Age, Buddhism and even
witchcraft as Germans seek desperately for something to take
the place of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Germany is a land filled with people who have never
heard the gospel. “It is a valley of dry bones, waiting for
the breath of life,” Howard said.
Partnership evangelism involves a team of volunteers
from the United States assigned to a church overseas. In
Germany, volunteers will share talents and Christian
testimonies in churches, town squares, schools, civic halls,
street corners and many other places.
The $2,095 cost of the trip includes airfare from a
gateway city to Frankfurt, Germany; accommodations in hotels
and homes of church members; certain meals in country;
internal transportation; insurance; and campaign
Southern Baptists interested in this volunteer
opportunity should contact W.H. Jackson, IMB coordinator of
partnership evangelism in Europe, at (915) 677-2500. Other
questions can be addressed to Bill Peacock or Anita Mahoney
in the board’s Volunteers in Missions department at 1-800-

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  • Julie McGowan