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Volunteer’s bold witness makes impact in Germany

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BP)–Darwin Spinks, 72, never met
a stranger.
That quality served him well as a recent Southern
Baptist volunteer in Germany. While working outdoors on a
construction project at a Baptist church in Hildburghausen,
he called out to almost all passersby to get their
attention. If someone stopped, he dropped his work to share
the gospel. Never mind that he didn’t speak a word of
Despite that, Spinks, a retired printer from
Murfreesboro, Tenn., led five Germans — four teens and a
homeless man — to faith in Christ.
“Darwin has a heart for soul-winning,” said Steve
Brubaker, Southern Baptist International Mission Board
missionary in Hildburghausen, a city of about 13,000 people
in former East Germany. “He’d try to speak English to anyone
he could. If that didn’t work, he’d find someone who could
“Rumor has it he was even seen witnessing to a tree,”
joked Brubaker, from New Holland, Pa.
Spinks, of course, didn’t go to that extreme, but he
took advantage of every opportunity to share his faith.
One opportunity came inside a restaurant near the
Baptist church where he and other volunteers — from
Tennessee and Missouri — renovated buildings and grounds.
During lunch with the project’s workers and other church
members, Spinks said he sat at a table with a talkative
German Baptist woman and a homeless man named Ditmar, who
“drank too much.”
As they waited for their meal, Spinks asked Melanie
Brubaker, 13-year-old daughter of missionaries Steve and
Celeste Brubaker, to translate for him. Through Melanie,
Spinks shared the plan of salvation with Ditmar, who earlier
had wandered by the project and offered to help.
After Ditmar prayed to accept Christ, the German woman
jumped up and cried, “‘Ditmar just received Jesus,'”
recalled Spinks. “I thought, ‘She’s the best witness we’ve
got.’ Everyone could hear her.”
Also during the trip, Spinks led to Christ a teenager
whose great-grandfather had been a member of the Gestapo,
the secret police of Nazi Germany. That decision was
especially meaningful to Spinks, who fought in World War II
and whose cousin died in combat on German soil.
Another day Spinks witnessed to an 84-year-old man on
the streets. A teenager named Steffi, a friend of Melanie
Brubaker’s, translated.
“I wasn’t getting anywhere with this guy,” recalled
Spinks. “Then it dawned on me that Steffi had never yet made
a decision for Christ. I turned to her and said, ‘Steffi,
how about you?’ She received Christ right there on that
street, with one of my arms around her and the other around
the man.”
Spinks’ bold witness encouraged German Baptists, too.
“Most of our church members just don’t feel comfortable
witnessing to their friends and aren’t very confident that
it would do any good, anyway,” Brubaker said. “Darwin
specifically helped them see how ‘personal evangelism’ could
Meanwhile, other volunteers modeled their own unique
styles of evangelism. Dorothy Seals led backyard Bible clubs
for children.
When she and other workers handed out German New
Testaments, “the children couldn’t believe we were actually
giving them the Bibles to keep. They were so thrilled,”
recalled Dorothy, whose husband, John, was the team’s
Volunteer experiences that like “help put everything in
proper perspective,” she said. “These trips cost money, but
it’s worth every penny.”
“I know folks need a new car or their kitchen remodeled
or whatever,” Spinks added. “But what’s the most important
thing? Reaching people for Jesus Christ or buying a new
For Spinks the answer is clear. “I may never amount to
a hill of beans, but I know that someday I’m going to reach
somebody who is going to go on and win thousands of people
to Jesus Christ.”

    About the Author

  • Mary E. Speidel