A simple request that changed lives
It all began with an assuming request that changed Samuel Wolthaus’ life. A student approached him wanting to fill the breaks between classes to chill, talk and read the Bible. Samuel recalls, “Over the course of several weeks, eating 3$ salads from Lidl, we spent time in the Word, in prayer, and simply getting to know each other.” It didn’t take long before another student joined and soon two became four and four became six. They were filled with fire and passion, growing in their knowledge of the Word and in the Spirit, they fellowshipped and spoke about how they could become Christ to schools and their community.
Six months later, the group had grown to 30 from different denominations and faith experiences. Samuel began holding evening gatherings, “We invited believers who were young in the faith as well as unbelievers. It started off with a number of disappointing talks, in which people would come and surely listen, but reject the best News. The next few months, we sought God’s heart for this movement as all of us felt like this was bigger than we were dreaming at that point.” Within a year, the group grew to 300 with many hearing the Gospel for the first time.
Closed doors can lead to open doors
Samuel is a “MK”, a missionary kid whose parents have faithfully served in missions for over 50 years. He says, “When I was 5, God spoke to me and told me that I would serve Him as a missionary one day.” After high school, he followed the steps of his father and joined Operation Mobilisation’s (OM) Ship Ministry, the Doulas where he traveled to the Pacific from Hong Kong to Australia. After graduating from Moody Bible Institute, the Lord called him back to his hometown in Dierdorf, Germany. Except, there was a problem – he came to Germany with a Canadian passport, and without employment, he would have to leave within 3 months.
With doors to OM closed and time running out to be accepted by other mission organizations, Samuel prayed for guidance and God gave him the idea to apply for a Dutch passport which would make him a European citizen allowing him to stay in Germany indefinitely. To his surprise, the whole appointment at the Embassy took only 15 minutes. He now found himself with four hours before his friend would pick him up. But God had a divine appointment waiting for him. Samuel recalls, “I prayed and asked the LORD to lead me, and He did. He told me to go to the church Christus Zentrum Düsseldorf. I had never been there or even heard of it. So, I simply submitted to His will and arrived one and a half hours later at the church. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but surely not locked doors.”
Finding the doors locked, he sat down disappointed and began to take off his shoes and socks when he heard a voice crying out in a different language. He says, “I didn’t know where it came from. I assumed it was from a Mosque close. The crying continued. I heard God telling me to stand up, take my backpack and shoes and go inside the door behind me.” Samuel entered a small room filled with chairs and a pulpit in front. He found an elderly Eritrean couple praying for revival in their church and Germany. The couple, upon discovering that Samuel was a Youth Pastor asked him to intercede with them. After an hour of prayer, the husband turned to Samuel and said, “Brother Samuel, I feel that the Lord has given you a word for us, please tell us, what it is?” Samuel sat in stunned silence and recalls, “We read in the Bible how God would speak through His prophets and apostles, and know that these gifts are promised even for us today. However, I have rarely seen it and never had a word from God for someone else. I was caught off guard and surprised by his question and asked in return for five more minutes to seek God. Instantly God laid Luke 11:1- 13 on my heart. I read it to the dear couple. The message out of the passage that stuck out to them is found in verse 9 and 13, in which God as our Father promises to give us what we need, especially the Holy Spirit.” The evening ended with an invitation to a homemade pasta dinner and even his friend, who came to pick him up, joined. Samuel remembers, “After eating and fellowshipping together, we closed with some more prayer, all crying out to God in one voice for the revival of the church in Germany and Düsseldorf. Even though we all prayed at once, it sounded so harmonious. I stopped at times and just listened to the others pray and was so encouraged how confident we can come before our God Almighty and know that He hears our prayers.”
The spiritual need in Germany
Samuel is currently serving in Dierdorf, Germany. When asked what he would share with people about missions works that they might not know, he answers, “The dynamics have changed. The West needs as much missionaries as the East does!” Much like the United States and Canada, Germany is a pluralistic nation. People with different backgrounds, belief systems, opinions, likes, and dislikes co-exist in the same society. Because of this, Samuel often hears these common responses when sharing the Gospel, “Every way could work. Don’t try to convince me of your way. I’ll hear you out. Nice for you. Not for me.” Samuel explains that Germans often have a pessimistic outlook, things don’t get better but worse. Anxiety can often plague children as young as 12 who worry about not being able to get jobs and provide for their family. He says, “Germans are some of the most safety driven people in the world! We have so many insurances, want things on time, work ahead to make sure everything is just as it should be. Flexibility, Spontaneity is not normal. Faith seems superstitious, when I can control my life. It is a big deal for a Germans to let go of control. Jesus, Eternity, the hope of a new life is the only answer to these fears, but it does not give safety.”
Samuel shares that because Germany is a country driven by reason and logic, there is often a lack of love in general, “Investing into people, relationships, loving them is so big. It shocks the Germans. It challenges their worldview – and that is how they are won. They want to be convinced through logic, but they will be won by Jesus’ love.”
This was experienced first-hand with his home which has grown and changed from an introspective, conservative church to a missions minded loving church. Samuel describes, “When I started here 9 ½ years ago, it was very stiff – no clapping, raising of hands, everyone of very calm, collected.” Though the change has been slow and difficult, it was triggered when he became and Elder with two other brothers. They threw out the old church laws and started to set the focus on personal relationship with Jesus and each other. He says, “Many hearts were far from God but faithfully serving. Instead of simply having some ministry in church to prove you are serving God and keeping a certain code of conduct, we switched the focus from outer appearances to heart matters. We began to see lives and marriages truly transformed!” The teaching moved from a focus on behavior to more on the heart. As a result, worship became more open and filled with emotions. The church filled with new faces from non-Christian background. The outer appearances of tattoos, long hair and piercings gave way to new life and new appearances as their love for Jesus grew. Samuel adds, “This challenged the established believers who realized these young believers love Jesus more even though they know less!”
Using the two-edge sword of technology
Wanting to leverage new tools for ministry, Samuel’s Dad encouraged him to start a YouTube teaching series. He has created 54 videos – verse by verse teaching on Daniel. It has not turned out how he expected, “First, I never thought I would do that. I have gotten little responses from my videos, there is not much traffic.” Despite this, he will continue to make more videos. He says, “I have learned that this a simple tool to train people who are hungry, but don’t have time to go to Bible school. My videos are 10-15 minutes long, well prepared in content. So, this helps the mom, dad, student on their way to school, work, University to focus on Christ, understand the Word more.” However, he does note that using WhatsApp as a communication tool has been a very big help, allowing him to write up to 60 people a day, helping to shepherd the flock and keep contacts with friends abroad.
Samuel still locally sees a wide open door for the Gospel. However, he says, “In the big cities as soon as you mention Jesus, doors start to close and things get more difficult. Renting a big room for services, police stopping open air evangelism, etc… we’re starting to see that closing off to us more.” What is the best way to pray for missionaries? He shares the following:
- Pray for us to not become filled with self-confidence, but dependance on the Spirit.
- For us to stay pure, holy and transparent.
- To grow in faith, despite supernatural miracles occurring rarely.
- To stay burning in the Spirit amidst all the stress, pressure and discouragement at times