We’ve been in Cologne for five days now, but it seems like we’ve been here for ages! It is so easy to become swept up in the culture of this place and its quirks and charms. The public transportation may be an endless maze, but we haven’t gotten lost yet. Learning German has proven difficult for the four of us, and we’re slowly picking up bits and pieces along the way. I can say that one of the main highlights for us all is the abundance of fresh food here. Whether it’s the fruit gelato or the bakeries around every corner, we are thankful for the chance to soak it all in while we can. And it doesn’t hurt that we walk an average of 3-7 miles a day!
So far, one of the biggest parts of our work here has been prayer walking. However, exactly what this means varies drastically, depending on the day, location and guidance from the Spirit. Sometimes we walk around our quiet street or by the fields behind our apartment, praying for the people who live in the houses we pass. There is an abundance of wildflowers along that path, and I’ve enjoyed stopping to pick a bouquet as a physical reminder of God’s grace as I’ve been feeling very inadequate this week. Compared to some of my team members, I feel spiritually immature and less equipped to do work here in Cologne. It’s so easy to compare myself and my feelings of frustration to the seemingly endless joy that others around me appear to possess.
Today’s prayer walking was especially different, as we walked in the busy section of downtown Cologne, around the famous cathedral (called “the Dom”). It’s essentially the main hub of the city, with a massive train station and its location on the Rhine river. The Dom was originally constructed with the same material as that of other famous European cathedrals (like the Notre Dame), but due to the unique air composition in Cologne, the exterior has turned to an ashy black. It’s a striking symbol for such a broken city. As we walked along the Rhine with two of our missionary contacts, Danny and Fran, we looked for opportunities to meet people and potentially share the Gospel. My group walked for about an hour but spoke to no one. Every person we approached dismissed us when we offered to pray for them. For a city so full of life, most people become instantly guarded when Jesus’s name is brought up.
These prayer walks are actually my first foray into street evangelism, a concept that terrifies me. I’m already reserved when it comes to new people, but it’s a whole new game when you’re approaching someone to talk to them about something so important. I’m a somewhat cynical person, and when I try to imagine what I would think of a stranger coming up to me like this, I grimace. However, it’s become apparent quite quickly that the only way evangelism proves effective is through the power of the Spirit. So as I walk, I pray that the Spirit would be the one who prepares the hearts and minds of those we pass to truly listen to us, as well as to prepare my own heart for whatever may happen. The last thing I want to do is come off as manipulative or shameful. A lot of these people have been damaged by the church and just have too much baggage. Yet, I know that I feel called to be here in Cologne for the time being, so I’m trying my best to remain open.
In closing, I would like to suggest a few ideas for prayer if you are willing to pray for us. Please pray that we would continue to adjust well to a new culture. Please pray that the Spirit would be working in each of us and that we would resist the temptation to compare ourselves to each other. Please pray that there would be harmony amongst our team, who may each be here for different reasons. Please pray for the missionaries that we are working with, who have so graciously opened their lives and hearts to us for the next couple of months. Please pray for peace, for this city and for each one of us. Thank you.
Ciao (they actually say that here)!