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In Germany, M-Fuge youth tackle barriers to share Gospel

COLOGNE, Germany (BP)–Most high school and college kids who visit Cologne come to see the sights and have a good time in this sprawling city on the Rhine River.

But 75 high school and college students from five U.S. states who took part in M-Fuge International July 5-12 had a higher aim: Learning how to lead people to Christ in the German city.

Sponsored jointly by LifeWay Christian Resources and Southern Baptists’ International Mission Board, the weeklong experience was led by both LifeWay personnel from America and Southern Baptist missionaries from several countries.

In sort of crash course in international missions — a dive-in-and-get-it-done approach to sharing the Gospel with people despite language and cultural barriers –- the M-Fuge youth were bolstered by Bible studies and worship and trained in prayer-walking before venturing out to the streets, parks and shopping centers across Cologne to share their faith with people who, at first, would be total strangers.

For Southern Baptist missionaries trying mightily to share Christ with the people of Cologne, the week was an integral part of their plan. It was not just a classroom exercise, but rather a sowing of Gospel seeds.

“This is not just for teaching. We bring hundreds of short-term workers here every year because we want wide sowing of the Gospel and we’ve seen good results from it,” one missionary noted.

If each of the 75 students shared the Gospel with one person, their week of work could equal a missionary’s two-year term in Cologne, another missionary leader said. “That’s an incredible contribution to the Kingdom.”

Church leaders like Rick Conner who accompanied their students to Cologne were excited to see the changes in their students’ spiritual lives.

Conner, who brought 11 students, is associate pastor in charge of worship and youth ministry at New Covenant Community Church, a 135-member Southern Baptist congregation in Taverias, Fla., that has done missions projects in the past, usually service ministries such as house construction.

Conner’s hope: that the M-Fuge International experience will take his 11 students and their home church to the next level of missions, stirring them to move toward direct evangelism and church planting.

“I think the next level will be seeing that desire and having compassion to see their friends come to Christ and knowing they don’t have to rely on the youth group to do that,” Conner said. “They can very much do that themselves by praying and then by sowing some seeds and finding some common ground and then by reaping the harvest and discipling them.”

He added, “I think it’s a beautiful thing that they don’t need a youth pastor or a youth group to do that, although those are important. They can … find passion in themselves to do that and to be Christ to those people. And I think they’ve learned that or at least caught a glimpse of that.”

Participating in M-Fuge International was part of a two-year plan to implant missions into the lives of students at Brent Baptist Church in Brent, Ala., said assistant pastor Scott Davis who brought five students.

“We felt like God wanted our church to begin to have eyes to see the globe rather than just focusing on the United States, so we planned for two years. Last year we went to M-Fuge at a location in Alabama. And after that our two-year plan was to take an international trip, so that’s how we ended up here,” Davis said.

Marty Logsdon, a self-described “layman who tries to be involved,” brought his son, Andrew, and another boy from Antioch Baptist Church in LaCenter, Ky. “It has been a wonderful experience to be here with my son on his first mission trip. It has been extra special for me to sit back and watch him and see how he handles a different culture and language,” Logsdon said.

“I’m excited to get back home and share with our church and other churches in our whole state and try to get more youth involved in missions -– I didn’t get involved until I was in my 30s. This is an excellent opportunity for a youth to come out for a week, see what it’s about,” said Logsdon, a computer specialist with an energy firm.

Language and cultural barriers hit the students as soon as they arrived in Germany, even in how hard it was to order a burger at Burger King when clerk and customer spoke different languages.

Logsdon said he was very pleased with how his two students managed to figure out how to ride on Cologne’s tram system and by the end of the week had picked up short German phrases to help them get around.

Being in Germany made a big impression on Tyler Bickhart, 19, a New Covenant member. “It’s a humbling experience,” he said in summing up the week. He never thought he would see so many people “who run around never even having a clue of who Jesus Christ is.”

Bickhart came to a new appreciation of his own salvation and found it exciting to witness for God in Cologne. Asked if he would return to Florida a different person, he answered, “Yes! An extremely different person. I’m going to go home realizing that there are people back home I walk past every day who don’t know Christ, just like over here. And I can communicate with them on any given day.

“I’m going to try to show the light a lot more than I did before at home,” he said.

    About the Author

  • Mike Creswell