No, absolutley not. Our story actually felt a lot like an adventure story written by God. It was something that we could never have come up with ourselves. And it certainly didn’t happen overnight. God led us through a process.
I had been pastoring a church (His People) along with my wife, Taryn, in a small town called Grahamstown for many years, when in 1997 we first started to have a sense that God might be leading us to plant a church in Germany. As I would pray for the nations, I began to feel more and more that I needed to specifically pray for Germany. As I did, my burden and heart for the nation grew. I couldn’t help but feel drawn to Germany, feeling that there is something very special about it.
Psalm 25:12 says, ‚Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose.’ When we seek God’s will for our lives, He is faithful to communicate His will to us in many different ways.
In our case, we were already sensing a call to Germany when God sent several people over a period of about 6 years to comfirm what he was saying to us through prophecy (when a person hears what God has to say to a specifc person or church and communicates it to that person or church).
In 1998, I read a prophecy from a well-known prophet, Jim Laffoon, that he had declared over His People Ministries in Cape Town. The prophecy stated: “There is a call on His People to reform the reformation countries“ and it went on to say, „for I am calling you . . . even to areas of the world where many have said, ‘we have worked all night and caught nothing; we have worked year after year after year and there has been no harvest’ . . . ‚for I WILL BURN LIKE A FLAME IN GERMANY...’ (for the entire prophecy click here).
Then in 2002, we received a direct prophecy from a visiting prophetess, Val McLelland that said, “Son at the right time and in the right season I’m going to open up Europe to you ... WITHIN SIX YEARS, I AM GOING TO RELEASE YOU, TO PLANT, ANOTHER CHURCH AT THE RIGHT TIME ... I am going to use you very powerfully with the GERMAN CULTURE. “ (for the entire prophecy click here).
Yes. The day after I received Val McLelland’s prophecy, I was praying for Germany when my eye fell on a TIME magazine that I had just gotten in the mail. The cover read, ‘Germany’s School Massacre.’
Feeling like I should read it, I turned to the front page of the article written about a student in Erfurt, Germany who had gone on a shooting rampage in his high school. The first thing that struck me was a picture of a large banner that had been hung outside a top floor window at the school with the word ‚Hilfe’ (Help) written on it in large block letters.
As I saw it, I felt as if the youth of Germany were sending out a call for help, and that God was prompting me to answer that call. It was then that I knew for sure that we were supposed to move to Germany.
Yes, I took two short trips in 2004 and 2006. During my 2006 trip to Berlin, I happened to arrive at the same time as a huge prayer and worship event “Calling All Nations,” was taking place at the Olympic Stadium. I spontaneously decided to participate and something interesting happened while I was there.
Noel Richards, the event’s organiser, told the story of how Adolf Hitler had a massive bronze bell made for the 1936 Olympic Games that were hosted in Berlin. On it he had engraved, ‘I summon the youth of the world’ next to a Nazi swastika. During a bombing raid in WWII, this bell fell and cracked right through the swastika. It was then later moved to sit in front of the Olympic Stadium.
Right after the event ended, I decided that I would try to connect with a friend I had met on my previous trip in 2004. We had not been in contact since then, however, so I knew that if he were at the event, it was still unlikely that we would see each other amidst the other 20 000 people in attendance.
We did end up finding each other almost immediately, however – right next to the bell summoning the youth of the world!
At first, we were trying to decide between Munich and Berlin. After much prayer, however, we felt like Berlin was the most strategic choice for some very practical reasons. Berlin is more open spiritually, has greater national and international influence, is more open to non-Germans, and is cheaper to live in. In addition to that, we already had contacts in Berlin. And all of our advisors were counselling in favour of Berlin.
Beyond that, Taryn felt prophetically that Berlin was right. And, while I was praying about which city to move to at one point, two girls with German ancestry approached me with an impression that they had from God. One of them said, “I keep getting Berlin.”
True to the prophecy from Val McLelland, within six years our family arrived in Berlin on December 12, 2007.
Before that, we had spent much time preparing for the transition. I handed over the leadership of His People Grahamstown. We built a team of young people who all felt called to join us on our adventure to Germany. And we were ready to go!
So, on a cold winter morning, right before Christmas, God’s call on our lives went from being a dream to coming true. My pregnant wife, son Joseph, daughter Jenna, and I arrived to start our new lives in Berlin.
Soon after that, the rest of our 15 member team began to arrive as jobs and visas became available. And we were able to begin the processing of planting a church here in the city.