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Posts Tagged ‘Hamburg’

Hamburg

We left half of our toiletries in Belgium with Hans and Ans!  Fortunately, the Brazles are coming to Rothenburg, so we may be able to have deodorant again by Sunday.  Just joking!!

Tip: The more methodical you are in packing, the less likely you are to leave things! Scattering and rearranging your packing, that is, putting your toothbrush in a different bag or putting dirty clothes where your socks used to be, almost guarantees leaving something behind somewhere!

Our visit with the church of Christ in Hamburg was wonderful.  This congregation, planted in the early 1950s, is one of the most mature and stable in Germany. They have four elders and a pretty stable history.  About seven years ago, when the International Church of Christ dissolved, a number of committed young couples joined this church’s work and have been a blessing.

I suspect that this church has been in the phase of church development that I described in the last posting where it is mostly focused on church life and inward things.  Sure, they have continued to have gospel meetings and other types of evangelism that were effective forty years ago, but these activities were church habits and no one really expects them to reach new people in this century.

That’s why we at Let’s Start Talking are excited about their invitation to receive a team next summer. LST veterans Steve and Val McLean from Santa Barbara, CA are very close friends with one elder couple here, so they have been informing the Hamburger (yes, that’s what people from Hamburg are called!) about LST for years.  Finally, the church has invited them to come and actually do LST here!

Much of the maturity and stability of the Hamburg church is a direct result of the lifelong efforts of Dieter and Eva Alten.   I wish I could write their whole story for you, but someone else will have to do that.  I’ll tell you what I know though.

Dieter was one of the very young men converted by the first American workers in Germany after WW II. Very early, he and his wife Eva moved to Hamburg where they worked with Don Finto in the new church planted by Weldon Bennett.  Don left to return to the States and Dieter and Eva stayed.

Sometime in the mid-seventies, an American Christian who had the Dale Carnegie franchise in West Germany was ready to go back to the States, so he transferred it to Dieter. This gave Dieter both greater influence and greater financial stability. I know American workers whom Dieter gifted with free courses; I’m sure he did the same for German workers.

And even while being the national director of Dale Carnegie, he continued to hold meetings, to do training and mediation for churches of Christ throughout Germany.  He was a regular guest speaker in Hannover when we were planting a church there!

Eva is gone now. Dieter is 83 years-old and suffers some speech impediment because of a stroke a few years back, BUT he serves as an elder, he attends every service (Sunday and Wednesday both!), and he preaches on occasion.  I was told that although he can no longer speak as spontaneously, he writes out his sermons which have the same depth and are as full of encouragement as ever!

We visited Dieter briefly, told stories from old times and laughed together. His eyes are full of life. I’m not sure he really remembered us—but that really doesn’t make too much difference.  We will always remember him.

We read together some verses, highly appropriate for Dieter, from Psalm 92:

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.

Thank you, Dieter, for bearing fruit and for staying fresh and green!  And, thank you, Lord, for your servant Dieter Alten!

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