The Apostle Paul explained how Israel’s initial rejection of her Messiah led to the message of salvation being brought to the world (Romans 11:11). But Paul also looked forward to the future redemption of Israel: “if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead” (Romans 11:15). Those words, “life from the dead,” struck home in a very poignant moment during our “Light of the World” campaign last summer in Berlin, Germany.
On a rather warm Wednesday afternoon in July, Leonid Dolganovsky led the team on a parade that ended at the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of Berlin. This historic spot is where many of Germany’s victories have been celebrated and it was one of the Nazis’ favorite rallying points. It is also the place where broken and bewildered members of the SS and Wermacht huddled aimlessly under armed guard after the collapse of the Third Reich. To this day, it’s a place consistently crowded with tourists from all over the world. The last thing that tourists and local residents expected to see at the Brandenburg Gate was a group of Jews proclaiming the gospel.
The team assembled outside the Friedrichstrabe railway station about a kilometer away from the gate. The starting point was especially poignant for London-based staff missionary Barry B., because over seventy years earlier, his mother had stood at the very same spot to board one of the Kinder Transports. The Nazis had allowed these to carry Jewish children out of Germany in 1938, as a political and promotional gesture to the rest of the world. Now, some seventy-three years later, our team assembled at that spot. Then they marched down Unter den Linden, Berlin’s broadest and most famous street, where who knows how many millions of German soldiers have paraded on their way to the Brandenburg Gate over the centuries.
The irony of our presence wasn’t lost on the police who immediately pulled up in a squad car. An odd scene unfolded as the deferential officers politely checked our permission papers to conduct the parade, then proceeded ahead of us to the rallying point, just to make sure that no one interfered.
Our Jews for Jesus team deployed in a semi-circle at the Gate, unfurled our Juden für Jesus banner, and greeted the crowd of international tourists with songs and testimonies in five languages: German, English, Russian, French and Hebrew. Following the testimonies, the team dispersed into the crowd for conversations. After an hour they had gathered 26 contacts and had prayed with one Jewish person and one German to receive the Lord. At one point during the time that the team mingled in the crowd, co-laborer Linda King comforted a German pastor in his eighties who wept openly to see Jews proclaiming the gospel in his native land.
That gate is something of a microcosm of the entire city, past and present. It stands as a reminder of Berlin’s various victories and defeats—her moments of greatest pride and deepest degradation. On any given day you’ll find Germans from other cities, tourist from other lands, and “Berliners” who originally came from all over the world, including Turkey, Lebanon and—yes— Israel. Who would have thought that the day would come when that gate would serve as the platform for the proclamation of the gospel to Germans, Jews and Muslims, from the lips of us Jews for Jesus.
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33)
For more about our work in Germany, click here.