This weekend in Freiburg is the annual DTSP – Downtown Street Party. CCF is located in what is known to the party/disco/nightclub-scene as the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ (well, I guess it’s also known to the police as that!). There are three streets in downtown that intersect to form a triangle, hence the name. And on these three streets is a big concentration of discos, cafes, nightclubs and bars. Every year these places get together to put on a huge street party that lasts from Wed to Sat. The party includes alcohol, dancing, alcohol, food, alcohol, shows, alcohol, special events, alcohol, flirting (and more), alcohol, bands, alcohol and oh, did I mention alcohol? Get the picture? And thousands, I mean thousands of people come for these 4 days to party.
And all this happens right outside the church’s front door. So we have a great opportunity to reach out to these mostly young people who are searching for fulfillment, love and acceptance. We have turned the church building into a ‘mini-cafe’ where we give out free drinks and snacks, where people can come in out of the blaring music and find peace, where people can find answers to their questions about life, God, faith and Jesus.
So pray for lots of rain to force the people to seek shelter inside (heehee!), pray for divine appointments, pray for hearts to be touched, lives changed and souls saved. Pray that we continue to be a light in the darkness.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.Isa 9.2
As we were walking to the car after church service today, we stepped over this memorial marker and didn’t realize what it was until we stopped to take a closer look. Becks had read somewhere about these memorial markers that have been put in throughout Germany. During WWII when the German Nazis were in control, they had rounded up Jews in Freiburg and the area and deported them off to Gurs, a prison camp in the Pyrennes Mountains in southern France, about 50 miles from the Spanish border. About 6,500 Jews from this area of Germany arrived in Gurs on Oct 25, 1940. This was part of the overall plan – called the Madagascar Plan - which was to deport all European Jews to the island, Madagascar, off the coast of Africa. That winter, due to horrible living conditions, many of the prisoners died in the Gurs detention camp.
By 1942, the Nazis had transferred most of the prisoners from Gurs to extermination camps in Eastern Europe, mainly to Auschwitz, Poland. Most were never to return again. In summer of 1944, the Allied forces finally liberated Gurs. During its short use as a prison camp from 1940 to 1943, over 20,000 Jewish prisoners passed through Gurs. Private citizens have paid to have these memorial markers set in the sidewalk in front of the houses where these Jewish deportees used to live (more info here – German only, sorry). It is a solemn memorial to the reality and atrocities of the Holocaust. It is a reminder to us all to continue to stand up for truth and righteousness, no matter what the cost might be. Jesus stood for us, let us stand up for Him and the truth of the Word.
‘Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.‘ Eph 6.13
The translation of the markers - ‘Here lived Simon Bloch / Melanie Bloch (w/ birth years) who were deported in 1940 to Gurs. In 1941 they were found alive and hiding in Dun-sur-Meuse.‘ Apparently 2 of the very few survivors!
View of the Gurs detention camp from the camp water tower. (Photo credit: USHMM, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives)
Well here we are in spring, or so it seemed last week with 28 C / 82 F temps, sun shining, sandals and T-shirts weather. And this week, well we have snow and 5 C / 41 F temps! What a shock to this old body of mine. Doesn’t the Good Book say something about crazy weather in the End Times?!
I think in the rest of the world is just calling this a ‘winter storm’ with gale force winds, but here in Germany the winds reached hurricane force so here it is being called hurricane Kyrill. The winds have reached about 124mph in some places. The entire train system was shut down on Thursday, something I’ve never heard of! Things are getting back to normal today, but with lots of delays. Even schools were closed. There have been several people killed and entire portions of forests flattened. We had very strong winds here at home, but thank God no one in our area was hurt (that I’ve heard of). Other areas were hit harder than us(sorry Desi, just heard that Wittenburg ‘Luther’s city’ was hit pretty hard, buildings loosing their roofs). But as you can see in the picture it could have been bad here. This picture is taken out our kitchen window, notice all the construction sites and cranes. There was debris and trash blowing everywhere! On the highways big rigs were blown over and cars were rolled. The pictures are crazy, trees and cars blown over. England was also hit really hard. You can look at the BBC online and see some of the pictures. Temperatures are still relatively mild for this time of year here. Unlike for my parents in Oklahoma. They were without electricity for about 6 days, my aunt is still with out power because she lives further out in the country. Apparently trees and power lines are down just from the weight of the ice. I’m sure you all have heard more about that storm than we have. My parents are doing good, they have a generator from their motorhome (it has been a huge blessing Dean!)and a fireplace and gas cooktop, so no power is just a nucsiecnce. They were also without water for one day.
It just makes me think the time is getting really short. The weather is wiggin’ out all over the world and the political/social things also seem to be getting worse too…all I can say is ‘come Lord Jesus come!’ This is taken from the kitchen window, and is only a couple of the many construction sites around us. When we moved in three years ago we were the only house on our block, now there is only one undeveloped plot on the block!
Living here in Freiburg, Germany (the capitol of the famous Black Forest) for about 10 years now, we have grown to love the city and the surrounding area. Freiburg is a good sized city with over 200,000 residents. But it still has a small-town feel to it – you walk through the city center on any gven day and most likely will meet somene you know. And of course you have to stop to chat.
Freiburg is at the foothills of the Black Forest, not far from the Rhine River. Half an hour’s drive to the west, on the other side of the Rhine lies France. A little less than an hour’s drive to the south and you’re into Switzerland. Because Freiburg lies so far south, it has a fairly mild climate and is known as the warmest area in Germany. In fact Freiburg is also a big tourist attraction – for Germans as well as ‘auslaender’ – foreigners.
More than the surrounding, we have also grown attached to the people – Freiburg is a very international city, influenced heavily by the University and many institutions of higher education – music school, teachers’ college, Evangelical College, Catholic College, etc. Over 30,000 students last time I heard. They come from all over the world to study at the Uni – from Asia, Africa, Canada, North & South America, even from Down Under.
There is a saying that the closer you get to Rome / Italy, the more relaxed the people are and the more Catholic also! And that is true of Freiburg (which is only a few hours away from Italy).
From what we heard from other Germans,
the Freiburgers are fairly relaxed (compared to northern Germans). And the Cathloic Church has a fairly strong presence here also, which is typical of Southern Germany. We even have a Catholic priest’s seminary!
So that is a little background on Freiburg. In the next few weeks we’ll add more background on the church, the Phamily and the ministries.