Tiews (Germany) Update – November 2022

News from the Tiews Family

Sharing the Gospel in Germany

Latest posts from on 11/26/2022

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow!

By Rev. Tiews on 24/11/22

Thanksgiving Day, a quintessential American holiday, is not celebrated in Germany—and certainly not in Iran (although one of my Iranian parishioners texted me “Happy Thanksgiving” this morning!). Even though this man lives in a crowded room with several other Iranian migrants, he is still grateful for how richly the Lord has blessed him. For starters, that he is a baptized Christian and now lives in a free country (Germany). For how many things are *you* thanking our triune God this weekend? I invite you to take a piece of paper and make a list. You might be surprised at how long it will get!

“…Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and *for everything* to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Eph 5:19-21).

Happy Thanksgiving from Germany. We thank *you* so much for your continued prayers and support!

+ Pastor and Lula Tiews

Your Last Night

By Rev. Tiews on 20/11/22

One of the highlights of my week is our baptismal prep class. Even though it was cold, wet, and dark, my Iranians showed up for class last Thursday evening. I began the lesson: “If your doctor told you that you had to die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day on earth?” After some goofy remarks, one catechumen suggested, “I would want to be baptized right now.” “Excellent,” I replied. “And I would baptize you, to be sure…In addition to that, what else might you want to do?” “Contact my family,” one woman replied, “…Except that they live in Iran…” “Perhaps you could video them on WhatsApp,” I offered. “And once you had contacted them, just hours before you’re about to die, would you talk about some show you saw on Netflix—or would you want to share with them something substantial?” “Something substantial…that I love them,” the first lady replied.” “Yes, at the end of our life, I would think that everything we told our loved ones would be very meaningful,” I suggested, adding: “This is precisely the situation in which Jesus was the night before He was crucified. He knew He would die—and rise again on the third day. Nevertheless, He wanted to share with His friends what was dearest to his heart. Does anyone remember what Jesus did that night? The man who had wanted to be baptized spoke up: “He gave His disciples the Last Supper.” We fist-bumped. “That’s how significant the Lord’s Supper is,” I explained. “We are now at the end of the church year. Our thoughts focus not only on Christ’s return but also on the fact that we all stand at the edge of eternity—daily. The Latin term for it is ‘memento mori’—’Remember that you must die.’ And the best way to be prepared for our death and our Lord’s return is by reading our Bibles every day and taking the Lord’s Supper every time it is offered.” “That’s what I would tell my family if I knew I had to die tomorrow,” one of them responded. Amen, sister, and it doesn’t get any more meaningful than that.

Why Did You Leave Iran?

By Rev. Tiews on 15/11/22

Last week I was preparing “Omar” for his asylum hearing: “Why did you leave Iran?” Omar explained that he had always had reservations about Islam because of its severe legalism. But then in 2013, even that tenuous connection to the Muslim religion dissolved when his 17-year-old nephew was abducted by three Muslim men and brutalized so severely that the boy committed suicide the next day. From that day on, Omar (secretly) renounced Islam. Spiritually numb, Omar, too, was now contemplating suicide, yet still wondered if a “good God” might still exist somewhere. Soon after, Omar started working in the Iranian oil patch where, after a while, he met a man who was somehow different—always calm and peaceful. Strangely, this man took off from work every Sunday. Over time they became friends. Omar assumed his buddy must have a girlfriend whom he always visited, but his pal would never elaborate. One day, the friend revealed that he was a Christian and left camp every Sunday to attend an underground home church in another town. Omar recoiled at first—not only because of the religion aspect but also because in Iran even knowing a Christian can be deadly. Nevertheless, the friend gave Omar a New Testament. “Read this. It will change your life.” Overcoming his skepticism, Omar read it and was soon overwhelmed by the tranquility and peace that flooded over him as he read about Jesus. He hid his NT under his mattress. Soon after, Omar was sent to Berlin on business. One day after his arrival, his friend called with the horrifying news that the secret police had raided Omar’s belongings and had found his NT. Imprisonment or even execution would now be his fate if he returned. In a daze, Omar somehow lost his money belt containing his passport and even the cash for his trip. By now, night had fallen. Omar lay down under a bridge, covering himself only with a filthy blanket a homeless man had given him. In only one day, Omar had lost his entire life…

And so there Omar lay, staring into the dark—having lost his homeland, job, family, and even his wallet. Cold, hungry, and dirty, the next morning he wandered aimlessly around Berlin’s Bahnhof Zoo, not knowing what to do next. After a while he overheard two men speaking Farsi and decided to ask them for assistance. “Brothers, I got here from Tehran yesterday and my whole life has come crashing down. Can you help me?” Unbeknownst to them, the Lord was about to work yet another of His countless miracles. “Come with me,” one of them replied. “I have some food and you can rest up a bit. If you want, I can introduce you to some friends who’ll put you up until you figure things out.” The man took him to his apartment. Omar washed up. His new friend served him a hot meal and let him sleep on the couch. The next day was a Sunday. As it turned out, the Iranian was a Christian and took Omar to church: Trinity Lutheran in Berlin-Steglitz, probably the largest Persian Lutheran church in Europe. There Omar heard the same Good News that he had secretly read about back in Iran: Whoever believes in Jesus Christ shall not perish but have eternal life. Once again, a tremendous feeling of tranquility and peace washed over him. After the service, Omar was introduced to Pastor Gottfried Martens who offered to help him with the asylum process in Germany and invited him to stay with the many other refugees from Iran and Afghanistan whom the congregation was housing. Soon after, Omar became a Christian. *** Fast forward four years to last Thursday—to Omar’s court hearing which he had asked me to attend. My colleagues and I—and, most importantly, the judge—were impressed with how well Omar explained his Christian faith. He was granted asylum. And so, Omar’s old colleague back in the oil patch was right when he had secretly handed him a New Testament, saying: “Read this. It will change your life.”


For My Father and Mother Have Forsaken Me

By Rev. Tiews on 02/11/22

One of my tasks is to prepare Iranians who have converted to Christianity for their asylum court hearing. In that interview, the judge will try to assess whether Jesus Christ is at the center of the applicant’s life. If he or she is not able to demonstrate an authentic Christian faith, extradition to Iran is likely and prison or perhaps even execution for having left Islam will await them. Last week an Iranian parishioner and I went over some of the questions: “What is your favorite Bible verse?”, “What is your Baptism verse?”… “Samuel” answered all the questions well. Then I asked him, “Back home in Iran, who knows that you have converted to Christianity?” Silence. I looked up from my notes. Samuel’s eyes were starting to well up. “Some of my friends do….and so does my father…” “How did he react when you converted?” I asked. “My father is a very devout Muslim. He disowned me. I have not told him my address because he and my brother-in-law would come here… to kill me.” “Wow, I am so sorry to hear that…” We sat there in silence. Tears were rolling down his face. After a while, I placed my hand on his shoulder. “You know, over time the Holy Spirit conforms us to the image of Christ [Romans 8:29]. Do you know what image best typifies our Lord?” I pointed to a crucifix hanging on the wall. “You and I are being conformed to that very same image. And that can hurt. But at the same time, Jesus knows exactly how you feel because He experienced something similar in his own family. The Bible says, “For not even his brothers believed in him” (John 7:5). I left our meeting worrying that the “Theology of the Cross,” as it is called, might have been too much for him. But a few hours Samuel sent me a text message: “For my father and mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in” (see image). Samuel got it: while being conformed to the image of Christ may be painful, at the end of the day, Jesus Christ always walks alongside us. And He will always take us in.

Freedom for Iran

By Rev. Tiews on 28/10/22

Our Lord instructs us to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s (Mt 22; Mk 12; Lk 20). But as Christians, what position do we take when the realms of Church and State intersect? Last Saturday a massive rally against the current Iranian regime was held in Berlin. Iranians from all over Germany convened with a variety of political aims: to demand justice for the probable murder of Mahsa Amini; to call for freedom for Iranian dissidents currently held in prison; to denounce those seeking to reestablish the nuclear deal with Tehran; to call for the return of the Persian king (shah); and even to demand the complete removal of the mullahs and the ouster of the entire Iranian regime. All 100% political. At the same time, our Iranian parishioners in Hamburg were begging me to support their cause by joining them in this huge rally for freedom for the Iranian people. And what better place to hold such a rally than in Berlin—close to the Brandenburg Gate, where Pres. Reagan once famously exclaimed, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall!” and within view of the Victory Column (see my FB video in another post, below)? Wishing to stand with my Iranian parishioners during this very tumultuous time, I chose to travel to Berlin with them. It was a fascinating experience. Ironically, the highlights were when I met an Iranian pastor also wearing a clerical collar and then accidentally bumped into an Iranian parishioner from Hamburg, with whom I will this week begin to study the Augsburg Confession, in which we read among other things that “the Church’s authority and the State’s authority must not be confused. The Church’s authority has its own commission to teach the Gospel and to administer the Sacraments. Let it not transfer the kingdoms of this world to itself” (AC XXIII 12,13). And yet, sometimes we *can* have it both ways—when we are given the opportunity to share Christ’s love—even in a totally secular environment.


Recent Articles:

Meet Your German or Iranian Neighbor
Painful Adjustments
Remembering God in Times of Trouble
Mahsa Amini and Iran
A Joyful and Authentic Christian

Thank you to all who have already supported the wonderful mission work that is being done by our many LCMS missionaries in Eurasia and around the world. Thank you also for partnering directly with us—the Tiews family. If you are not yet partnering with us, below are various ways in which you can do so.
Praise the LORD that
Jesus took a sinful agnostic guy, forgave him, and is now using him to bring the Gospel to a land in which so many people do not know Jesus Christ.

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