Talking about my faith is hard, but singing it has always come easy. Whenever I would sing, it would be at church or youth group or a choir concert for my school. So basically, I really only sang in a Christian environment. I had conquered my fears of telling the Gospel to people at our concert at Ottel’s Biergarten, but this past week I realized another part of that fear that had been hiding.
During our time in Germany, I’ve been struggling with sickness and connecting with people. Aside from our host families that we’ve stayed with it’s been difficult to open up to people and find common ground. A big part of it for me is the language barrier. And in complete honesty, Sunday mornings are the most stressful because I’m surrounded by people who I can’t communicate with and am singing and listening to a language I don’t understand. I broke down a couple weeks ago because of it.
But even in the midst of all these struggles, I have fallen in love with Germany. The people are kind and so generous, and you can spend five hours just hanging out over food and drinks at the local biergarten with them. They will find any excuse they can to hang out together. Their world isn’t about work, but community.
Garrett and I have found ourselves making friends here. The Geiling family has been hosting us so generously while we’ve been in Aschaffenburg. Fritz and Garrett are so alike it’s kind of creepy, and Fritz is constantly egging my husband on to do crazy things so they can laugh together. Petra, Luisa and I have had fun sharing stories over gelato at local cafes and trying to give their cat an ice cream headache.
We have also made friends with a man named Mike. We met him on a hike we went on by the Rhein river, and since then he’s joined us for dinners, concerts and jaunts through the city. He’s talked with us and prayed with us as we’ve been working through the difficulties of staying in and then leaving Germany.
One of the best experiences we’ve had so far is playing at a local festival called Stadtfest. Every year, the cities in Europe hold festivals for a weekend in honor of their city(stadt). When Fritz heard we would be available during the festival, he quickly signed us up to play music. It was a little close to the festival so they said we could play three songs. We gladly accepted and looked forward to it.
Stadtfest is a huge deal in Aschaffenburg. Vendors open up stands, and there are stages all around the city with local bands playing music most of the day. A few thousand people wander the streets during the day, and even more find their way into the city at night. Police and emergency responders are stationed all the way around the city to make sure no cars drive through protected areas and that everyone’s safe.
We weren’t sure what to expect when we played because we were brought on as an acoustic band needed to fill space in between their sets. We also had no idea which stage we would be on in the city and how many people would be around. So we went on faith, excited to see what would happen. We found out we had signed up to play during an hour of open stage time, and the amount of music we played would depend on how many bands came to participate. And that’s when I started to realize that I still was struggling with some fear.
Because I had grown up in a solely Christian environment, and because that was how I’d used my musical gifting, the amount of people who didn’t believe in God present at any given time was usually less than 5%. At Ottel’s Biergarten I wasn’t worried about singing because I was stressed about telling them the story of Jesus. This time, I would be singing about him, and it was much more likely that most of them would understand. And on top of that, hundreds of people would be walking by and stopping to listen instead of talking to the people at their table.
I started to become nervous because my only influence in these people’s lives would be the words I had writen. And right before we were about to go on stage, we were told that we had to fill about 40 minutes since no other bands showed up to play after us. That meant I would be singing worship songs to a city full of people who don’t know God. But I knew that we were called to be there, at that moment and for those people.
Even though I was worried about how people might take the words to our songs, they kept stopping. They listened to our music, smiled and clapped after every song. When a woman and her husband had to leave, she gave me a thumbs up as she walked by the stage. But I became nervous as our third song in the set came closer.
A couple months ago we wrote a new song, and I felt the need to write this song based on the determination that Garrett and I have had in the face of the devil’s attacks on our marriage and how he’s tried to get us to back down from our ministry. It’s the first song that I’ve intentionally mentioned God’s name as a declaration of faith. It’s the band’s favorite song to play right now, and we’re all super happy with how it has been received.
As the song began, I just had to calm myself and remember that this was my ministry. This was what God had called me into and I couldn’t ignore it. This song is our favorite for a reason, and I would sing the truth for everyone to hear it.
And this created one of my favorite moments so far from touring. We’re on a tiny stage being baked by the sun and the stage lights, playing a song that no one’s heard before on a street downtown, and I literally hear the line “I will serve my God until the day I die” echo off the walls throughout the rest of the city.
In that moment, God gave me a new level of courage and certainty. I have no need to be nervous or ashamed of what God has called us to do. I have no need to hide my faith or my assurance in God and His goodness. I can declare His name in any city, and He will make it echo so that people know not to be afraid. He is a God worth serving, and it’s their turn to answer the call.