Building Community. Sharing Christ.
When you think of mission, Germany might seem an unusual place to go. Rob’s story sheds light on a mission field closer to home.
‘I spent 10 days at the Patchwork Centre in Schwerin, North East Germany. The Patchwork Centre is a community centre in the Dreesch, a poor part of the city full of concrete apartment blocks. Unemployment is high and the effects of Schwerin’s communist history are still widely felt. This is the furthest west that you’ll find a statue of Lenin. Unlike many places in the “post-Christian” West, people here have no residual knowledge of Jesus or the Bible, because they come from successive generations of atheist families.
A team of missionaries is working at the Patchwork Centre to create a welcoming community. The missionaries share their lives with local people and seek opportunities to tell them about the hope they have in Jesus. A number of local residents volunteer at the centre, helping to renovate the building and serving in the café. They also assist with events like Kepler Open Air, which takes place four times a year. The event is held in a local square, and it features food, live music and a gospel presentation. The volunteers seem to value the community they belong to, even if they do not yet share the missionaries’ beliefs. They extended a very warm welcome to me, despite my rather limited German.
On my placement, I was able to help the team finish work on an outdoor play area. We also made significant progress on creating an indoor children’s area. Before too long, the centre will be able to offer even more to the local community, which will only help this incarnational mission.
The Dreesch is not an easy place for mission. The lack of knowledge about Jesus and the difficulties of everyday life mean that residents tend not to think about bigger things. Yet, the sense of community is very strong. I really enjoyed getting involved with the practical work and the arrangements for Kepler Open Air. My placement was brief, but it was both eye-opening and encouraging.’