Garrett & Alissa Larsen
Garrett & Alissa Larsen

Garrett and Alissa serve as church planters with Unite the Mission, currently near Salt Lake City, UT

The Boldness of the Traveling Wife

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My whole life I’ve been around believers. I’ve gone to church, went to a private Christian school, served at the church, even worked at the church. I’ve only had one job outside of the Christian bubble, and even then I found my coworkers were mostly believers. I’ve always loved Jesus and I’m not afraid to show it, but for some reason it’s always hard to tell it.

Maybe it’s because of the negative stigma of Christians, or bad experiences because of people making it all about damnation and sin-focused instead of grace and change-focused. So when it came to telling people about Christ, I tended to show them through love, appreciation, service and encouragement. I wouldn’t be a judgmental and hateful Christian.

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So when I knew the team was headed for Europe, I was really excited but also dreading it. As the front-man of the band, I would be the one sharing the Gospel. While we toured the states I would do so through my own story, but with a translator and limited time sharing my story wouldn’t work. I’d have to share the Gospel, plain and simple, in just a few minutes. I was nervous, but I knew it would be okay. God would give me the words.

So, to Germany we flew. It was a long day that started at 9am on the west coast and ended at 10:30pm in Germany. And if you can’t figure out the time difference, that’s 25.5 hours of packing, driving, flying, running through the airport, flying again, driving again, and meeting a dozen Germans who speak broken English. Needless to say it was a long day.

After I got to sleep that night, the next day was amazing. We walked into downtown Aschaffenburg and visited several different shops that lined the streets. We also explored Schloss Johannisburg and met up with our host Fritz for part of the afternoon.

The next day I went to straighten my hair after showering, and in the course of a minute the heating coils in my straightener overheated, burning my hair and burning themselves out for good. So, off into town I went to find a replacement straightener with the European plugin. We found one and then slowly ventured back to the house. Fritz and his wife Petra came over for dinner, and we were able to share a little of our stories.

As the night went on I started to feel kind of sick. My throat was hurting, the kind that you get before a cold hits you. And boy did it hit me. I couldn’t sleep that night because I was too hot, and my nose was starting to run. As I was laying down, I started getting really nauseous. After hours of misery, I threw up and then was finally able to fall asleep.

The next day consisted of me laying in bed and being told we would be singing that evening next to the river to try and invite people to our upcoming concert on Sunday. Eight songs in my voice started to give out, and I was having to blow my nose constantly.

Saturday I was doing a little better, but I was nervous about how my voice would hold out. I didn’t think I’d be able to sing well, and I was scared of what people might think. And then Sunday arrived. I could talk, I could sing lightly, but my nose was still incredibly runny and my throat was dry. That morning I prayed hard, asking God to help. There was no way I’d be able to make it through the whole concert unless God helped me. I couldn’t do it on my own strength, so I had to rely on Him.

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And then I realized, I’d be sharing the Gospel that afternoon. I was scared to death, so I spent the day just trying to relax, forget about it and trying to come up with excuses as to why I shouldn’t. We get the biergarten and eat lunch, wienerschnitzels and fries provided by the establishment as payment for our music. I’m having a fun time talking with people, but I’m still stressing out about the upcoming sharing time. Looking around, there aren’t many people and they’re all wrapped up in their own conversations.

But as we set up and check to make sure the speakers are working, all eyes are on us. People were waiting and wanting to hear our music. And I knew that was going to have to share with them. The power started to have problems, we couldn’t make the speakers work, and I began to wonder if we’ll even play.

Eventually we’re able to get everything operational, and we begin. Though my voice was a little tired, God gave it the strength it needed to work. I could sing all of our songs without too much difficulty, and talking was fun. The people enjoyed my jokes about trying to speak German, and my phrase “Ich liebe laugunbrezel,” which means I love pretzels.

I was so nervous. I didn’t have a translator to help me, and I didn’t want to share. But with all that had come against us even playing in the first place, I knew I had to. The devil had gone through too much trouble to stop me that I couldn’t let him win.

And so I shared. I shared how we are broken inside, that we are hurt and try to find a way to feel better by hurting others. We’re selfish and do whatever we can to make ourselves happy, but nothing works. And yet Jesus was selfless, He didn’t hurt others when they hurt and killed Him. He gladly gave Himself for them, and He showed us that it’s possible to be kind. And that He calls us to be like Him and He helps us become selfless if we let Him.

Not many people could understand, but those from the local church were cheering as I shared. And there was a table of local people who were listening, though I don’t know how many of them could speak English. They may not have understood everything, but they heard. And as the show continued one of the ladies at that table took a hat and collected money for us from all of the tables at the biergarten.

I was so in awe of the kindness of these people who barely knew us and yet still blessed us. Here I had enough trouble ordering a flat water that they readily helped me, and ordered a mug of water even bigger than my head for me. I never knew what Germany would be like, what sharing the Gospel, food and community with these people would become. But that day I felt so loved and encouraged. God gave me His strength and energy, and these people gave me a renewed hope in the goodness of God working in our world.

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I’m still nervous to share the Gospel, but if that’s the response I get then I know God’s got my back.