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Berlin update June 2007
Andrew Southwood has been catching up with Nigel and Karen Rivers. Nigel and his family moved to Berlin a few years ago and Andrew asked them a few crucial questions about why they made this momentous choice and about the challenges they face this summer.
Why did you go to Berlin to be missionaries?
The four reasons for us to be in Berlin are:
- We believe this is where God has called us.
- There is a real need to mobilise the nations of Europe to reach both their own communities and those outside Europe. We are here to grow missions for Germany, Europe and the rest of the world.
- Berlin is a strategic spiritual centre, so our being here is important prophetically.
- Finally, Berlin itself is a mission field (with fewer than 1% Christian) so there is plenty of room for missionaries, evangelists and church planters, all of whom we are supporting in their work.
You have spent a lot of time renovating your house. Why is this so important for your ministry?
God clearly led us to buy this house but there was a considerable amount of work to be done to make it habitable. The 100 year-old plumbing and electrics meant we had only two functioning bathrooms, no gas and blocked pipes everywhere. So we had to build flats for the community core families (4), ministry space for the work and guest rooms and bathrooms for the students and other guests.
Hospitality has always been a key part of our ministry and we do not believe that our time here in Berlin will be any different. It is essential for this that the house ‘works’ and can be run efficiently, because it is central to our calling here. God has already been using the house as a gathering point for many different expressions of church, with more than 100 people passing through our doors, starting from our very first day here.
Now seems to be the start of a new chapter for you. Tell about your hopes and dreams for the next phase and about what’s going on now.
Firstly we are longing for an end to the builders’ dust!! Secondly, we are all very excited about hosting the River Kairos course this July. It will be the second time we have run the course and it will be a great opportunity for River members to see what’s going on here. We are particularly pleased that the team want to add some practical cross-cultural days to the basic course so we hope that Berlin is ready for them!
For us, a key part of the next six months is building relationships with some of the Berlin pastors, and talking to them about DNA-Deutschland. The first course starts in October and we have everything ready apart from some students! We are also wanting to finish our first 24-7 prayer room and begin to host some prayer weeks. The first room will be themed around Berlin itself; we are hoping to embed a map of the city in the floor as a focus for prayer. Other prayer rooms will then follow.
One of our dreams is for the house to be filled with an atmosphere of prayer and worship that enables everybody who comes here to find Jesus. A prayer garden is another part of this dream. Adam walked with God in the garden.
What has God been talking to you about lately?
Making the transition from life in Cookham to life in Berlin has not been simple, especially for Nigel who has continued to work in the UK a number of weeks each month. We are asking questions about identity and learning about living with a new rhythm. When you suddenly have no job to go to for 35 hours a week it raises questions about who you are. God has been encouraging us through the Psalms to look to Him not just for provision but for purpose direction and identity as well. God is taking us both on a journey of faith, learning to believe in the face of the impossible.