Second Chances

     “Young people are definitely more open,” says Shelly Kragt, Alliance missionary to Germany, “and they are beginning to question things.” Shelly; her husband, Jerry; and their three children live in East Berlin, where a survey taken after the fall of the Berlin Wall indicated 90 percent atheism. 
     The demise of communism in East Germany has brought uncertainty, unemployment, and insecurity. “Under communism life was simple and safe [for most],” Kragt says. “Everyone had work and an apartment.” Currently, the unemployment rate is as high as 40 percent. “It’s not a simple, safe world anymore for young people.”  
     In 2003, the Kragts planted Open Door Church in eastern Berlin, with a vision to reach disillusioned people who are seeking answers to life. Beginning with a small-group meeting in their home, Jerry and Shelly befriended neighbors and built relationships. Soon their group had grown, and they were looking for a prime location for a sanctuary. Now, the building that houses the Open Door congregation is ideally located with large, storefront windows, giving a view of worship to anyone walking by.  
     Recently, a neighbor of one of the church members began attending services with him. The East German woman had cancer and had sought many methods to find healing, all of them futile. She finally cried out to God, and He healed her. Surprised that God would answer her, the woman asked the church member if she could accompany him to church. 
     “She soon joined one of our small groups,” says Kragt, “She understood what Jesus had done for her and received Him as her Savior. She’s a changed woman and will be baptized in a few weeks.”  
     Living up to its name, Open Door became the meeting place for friends and neighbors to watch the recent World Cup soccer tournament, which was hosted by Germany. Also, there are now four active small groups, with other outreaches planned. “It really is a work of God,” says Kragt. “The East Germans tried to erase God from their society. God is giving them a second chance.”


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