December 28, 2017

A gift of time

Written by  Emily Jones
The city of Kaiserslautern as seen from the top of the Rathaus (city hall). Photo by Micah Martin. The city of Kaiserslautern as seen from the top of the Rathaus (city hall). Photo by Micah Martin.

A mission intern in Germany learns that offering an invitation, or just a listening ear, can sometimes mean the world.

Last August, a recent high school graduate from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, jumped into a new life in the German city of Kaiserslautern. Until next summer, EMM mission intern Micah Martin will be serving and learning with other youth in a Christian discipleship program called “Voluntary Service Year,” which is partly run by EMM workers.

Micah’s days are filled with improving his German, providing support at local church outreach programs, and building relationships in the community. And sometimes, God brings chances for Micah to be a friendly face or a listening ear just when someone needs it.

One day, Micah felt God nudging him to bring food to someone on the street. The next day, Micah walked to the center of town carrying a sandwich. He arrived next to a man who frequently begs and passes the time reading by a large pedestrian street.

Micah offered the man a sandwich and sat with him. He learned that the man was from Hungary and that his name was Anjoseph. Micah found that experiencing life on the curb was surprisingly different.

He sat with Anjoseph and looked up at all the people – some hurrying by, some pretending not to see the two men on the curb, and some openly staring. Spending just a little while in Anjoseph’s shoes gave Micah more compassion for those who share his struggle.

Soon, Micah had a new opportunity to reach out. A local church that Micah attends was having a retreat, and refugees who have been taking a gospel course offered by the church were invited. Six of these new friends accepted.

The retreat held times of worship and exploring Scripture. It also included a competitive outdoor game that Micah helped plan, involving teammates being wrapped in toilet paper and buried in leaves. For Micah, the best part was seeing the refugee attendees bonding with church members and being included just like everyone else.

During the retreat, a refugee from Syria expressed his gratitude at being invited. In his two years in Germany, he had never been invited to an event like this, where he could get to know Germans through deep discussions and fun times too. He was excited to be treated as a part of the group and to spend time with locals.

Once again, a simple offer to spend time with someone made a big difference. Micah is learning that in a busy world, a gift of time can be the most valuable of all.