Germany Blog - A much needed rest and a Moravian history lesson
9th Oct 2022
The last couple of weeks have gone so quickly, not because I’ve been busy, but because life seems to be going by at a quickening pace. It was so nice to stop for a while after a hectic month of work and travel. After being sick with food poisoning it was a quieter few days, which turned into a quieter two weeks as I also came down with some kind of viral infection. It didn’t matter though as my hosts were also unwell so we could all rest together and enjoy some slow days, with bits of work in between. I was blessed to stay with friends of my good friend from Bible School, Tina, for three nights then moved to Tina’s apartment for the rest of my time in Munich.
The weather was awful the first week but despite not feeling great, we managed to go to Oktoberfest to walk around for a little while just to see what it was like since it was on while I was there. Because of the weather it was very quiet. I felt sorry for the stall holders who would normally be doing a roaring trade. The most entertaining thing about seeing this beer fest/carnival was all the people dressed up in dirndls (for females) and lederhosen (for males), despite the wet and cold. Fun fact, I tried on a dirndl while exploring the old city with another friend.
While resting I managed to read a full novel, which I haven’t done in a very long time, and catch up on sleep. I also caught up on some work and had a few meetings via zoom. Tina, and her housemate Esther, left on the 2nd to go to Mallorca for holidays but before they left we enjoyed a few days together, watching renovation shows and eating home made cinnamon buns and lovely typical German breakfasts of bread rolls, cheese, meat and other condiments. I was also able to meet their neighbours across the way, who are Christians. Such a blessing to have fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to meet wherever you go in the world. They have been in Munich for 6 years, originally coming from Slovenia and Bosnia.
Since it was a much nicer and warmer week weather wise, I was able to get out for some nice walks in the neighbourhood, including going to a local cafe and a tiny little wooden chapel in the fields. So beautiful with the autumnal trees.
18th Oct 2022
Ember arrived on the morning of the 9th. My new found friend from the apartment across the way drove me to the airport so we could pick Ember up. While Ember was catching up on some sleep, it was lovely to go for a last walk with Sophie, a young woman who came to Australia in 2017 to volunteer with Youth for Christ. We’d spent the Saturday wandering around Munich in the drizzle, climbing the tower of ‘Our Lady’s’ church to take in the view and eating a traditional Bavarian meal, which for me was roast pork with a potato dumpling, a bread dumpling and a cabbage salad.
Monday morning saw us farewelling our neighbours then travelling over 8 hours to Herrnhut, via three trains and the bus. We arrived to the Jesus-Haus at about 8pm and collapsed from the long hours of travel. Herrnhut is a must visit for anyone interested in prayer and mission history. This is a very brief history. In 1722, Count Niklaus von Zinzendorf allowed a group of Moravian refugees to settle on his land. They fled from what is now the Czech Republic, due to religious persecution. The community grew and with it, dissension, due to various other religious groups coming to join and settle there. In 1727, Zinzendorf heard about the disunity and went from house to house sharing the simple gospel and pleading for unity due to the common faith. A local Lutheran pastor invited the Herrnhut community to a communion service in the neighbouring village of Berthelsdorf and, both along the way and during the service, repentance and reconciliation between old friends took place. This led to what is called the Moravian Pentecost as the Holy Spirit was poured out and people had a hunger for God and prayer. Groups would be praying on the surrounding hill until late into the night, including children. Soon after a ‘prayer watch’ was started - one man and one woman would be scheduled each hour so that continuous prayer happened right throughout the day and night. This 24/7 prayer meeting went for 100 years without interruption! At one stage Zinzendorf went to the coronation of the king of Denmark, and while there, met a slave from the West Indies. He was so stirred by the situation in the West Indies that he had him come and speak to the community in Herrnhut. Two young men weren’t able to sleep that night - the Lord was calling them out to be missionaries to the slaves in the West Indies. They were even willing to sell themselves into slavery if need be. The catch cry as they left was ‘the lamb who was slain is worthy to receive the reward of His suffering’. This was the birth of the modern day missions movement. Within 10 years the small community of Herrnhut had sent out 70 missionaries to unreached people groups around the globe. Another Moravian community 350km to the West of Herrnhut sent out 200 missionaries in 2 years! The people who stayed behind prayed fervently for those who were sent.
Now that you know the context, you can understand the desire to spend time in this place. The Jesus-Haus is a church/prayer house/guest house in Herrnhut that was developed in the old hospital. It is not linked to the current Moravian church but they have the heart to rekindle the fire of prayer that burned in the early days of the community. In celebration of the 300 year anniversary of the founding of Herrnhut, they held 6 months of 24/7prayer and worship. We were there for the last week of this ‘Fire on the Altar’ event. We had signed up for two slots 1 hour each day we were there, Ember leading worship and myself leading prayer. There was a main prayer room downstairs where this rotation of prayer and worship leaders took place and some smaller prayer rooms upstairs where you could go pray by yourself. One of the photos shows the world prayer room. We met many wonderful people from all over the world during this week. We were also able to participate in a healing service on the Thursday night and a Shabbat dinner on the Friday night that the local church put on every week.
When we were not in the prayer room we spent our time exploring the surrounding area and the history including the Hutberg (the hill with a watch tower where people prayed), the Moravian church and cemetery, the beautiful forests and one morning I got up early to watch the sunrise from the hill then walked to Berthelsdorf to see the home of Zinzendorf. There is also a YWAM base in Herrnhut and we took a walk through the forest on our last day there to see this beautiful old ‘Water Castle’ that serves as the base. And of course we couldn’t leave Herrnhut without buying a Moravian star or two. These hanging stars light up and are now a favourite in German homes all over at Christmas. The original colours are red and white representing the blood of Jesus and purity.
We left on the 11am bus on Saturday morning headed for Dresden. A couple of hours later we checked into our hotel then spent the afternoon eating and exploring this historic river city that was mainly obliterated during WWII. The majestic Lutheran church ‘Frauenkirche’ was bombed and the remnants remained as a war memorial until 1994 when reconstruction began. The sun came out so we could enjoy the city in all it’s glory, including watching two hot air balloons ascend from the banks of the river Elbe. It was a lovely ending to three weeks in Germany. Stay tuned for the next adventure…the UK!