Tag Archives: Berlin

Lessons learned…

A few months ago I wrote a blog (Journey 2 Berlin) in which I shared about my trip to Berlin with Evangelist Mando Gonzales, Sr. Lately I’ve been thinking about our trip, and some of the things I’ve learned from him. Reflecting on the conversations we had I have to agree with the words of the Roman historian Tacitus; “Experience teaches”. I am fully aware that we can learn from our personal experiences, but how much more from the experiences of others, if we pay attention?

Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will. -Vernon Howard

Little did I know that our trip to Europe was not a coincidence, but a preparation for what is to come. I could not foresee that This Journey to Europe’ would cause me to think differently. Differently because in the Urban Training Center we visited churches for 1-4 weeks partnering with-, and helping them in various ways through; drama’s, worship, evangelism, children’s ministry, and follow-up are just a few to name. However after a certain time we would return to our campus continuing our program. Not to take anything away from the effectiveness of the Urban Training Center, but we did not have to think like the pastor of a church, we were more like a van-load full of evangelists; ‘blow-in, blow-up, and blow-out’.

I am convinced that during these months in Europe God put a new desire in my spirit, mind, and heart; “to pastor a church someday”. I believe when this will happen, these Lessons learned will be helpful in pastoring a church, along with the countless lessons I still have to learn through experience, and from others;

1. Building relationships, with influential people and organizations in the community. This so-called networking can become useful at certain times, providing the needed resources in order to accomplish a particular goal, but our ultimate ambition should be to change our community.

2. Evangelism; the presence of witnessing Christians in the neighborhoods will influence the community, and it is also crucial for a church to continue to preach the gospel to the unchurched. When the church stops evangelizing, the church stopped caring, and therefore it will stop growing. Never neglect the responsibility to be ‘a fisher of men’ (Matthew 4:19)

“He who rules the streets, rules the city” -Pastor Ed Morales

3. Change; God did not save us to stay the same, but He wants us to change. It sounds too easy to be true, but as we change our community will change.

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.  I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.  When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town.  I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.  Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family.  My family and I could have made an impact on our town.  Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world. -Author Unknown

4. Stewardship; when Christians are taught that the community they live in belongs to God, they begin to understand the responsebility of stewardship. Like the story in Matthew 25:14-25; the servants that became successful invested; energy, time, and money. God will give us the City and more, if we as the Church invest likewise into our community instead of keeping what we have hidden in the ground.

5. Servanthood; as the Church we are not only called to serve each other, but also our community. This is an act of love, and it will surely impact the city, and done consistently it will eventually change the city. For example the following blog  ‘I (HEART) SAN DIEGO’ by Al Valdez, senior pastor of Victory Outreach San Diego is a perfect example of a Church serving the community.

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Journey 2 Berlin

IMG_3098Evangelist Mando Gonzales, Sr.

Sometimes it happens that you are in the position to seize an opportunity of a life time, and  when those rare moments happen; Seize them! That’s what I did this October, when I was able to join Evangelist Mando Gonzales, Sr. on his trip to Berlin, Germany. Mando was scheduled to minister the weekend at Victory Outreach Berlin, a pioneering church that was launched out by Victory Outreach Rotterdam in 2007, and I was privileged to travel with him.

Our transportation would be the I.C.E. International, a high-speed train that would take us from Rotterdam to Berlin in less than 8 hours. Time to see a little bit of the nice scenery of this part of Europe, and to spend quality time with a great man of God. During this weekend I was able to apply the early lessons, imparted in me by my leaders of the Urban Training Center; “Listen and learn!”

“You don’t learn anything from what comes out of your own mouth.”

In moments like these, it is better to be quiet and to let your ears do the work. Listening to the stories about the early years of Victory Outreach, how a small ministry became a world wide movement. To learn and draw wisdom from a man with over 30 years of experience, and to see ‘Lifestyle Evangelism’ in full effect. I have noticed that men like Evangelist Mando don’t do things just to do them, but they are intentional in everything they do.

“Look at the faces, of the people and see”, would Mando say repeatedly, to make me aware of the story their facial expression may tell me about there lives. When people would pass us by and look toward him, Mando would give them a friendly smile and at times say a few words. “We are showing Jesus to them, by doing so”, would he explain to me. Mando was looking for any opportunity to introduce Christ to anybody who would cross his path. It reminded me of the words of St. Francis of Assisi “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words”.

As we arrived in Berlin and exited the ‘Haupt Bahnhof’ we walked into a young man, a drug addict for 10 years. No longer shooting heroin as he told us, but now it was methadone. There Mando witnessed and prayed for him, we were finally in Berlin and God reminded us immediately that these are the people we are called to reach, with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

IMG_3106Mando & Ruud witnessing to a drug addict

We would have many more of these encounters during our stay in Berlin. On the ‘Leopoldplatz’ for example we went out to evangelize among the drug addicts and alcoholics. This square is full with lost souls, hurting men and women without hope. We were able to witness to many of them who were in despair. Some of them acknowledged their situation, but their fear was the pain that comes with ‘kicking the habit’. They were amazed by the testimonies of the men and women from our Christian Recovery Homes, whom God delivered miraculously from their addiction. With unbelief in their eyes they listened to the many examples of God’s healing and delivering power, and with hope in their voices they would ask us to tell them more. We told them how it all started with Pastor Sonny Arguinzoni, Sr, and that it is still happening all over the world. We believe God, as the team in Berlin continues to witness to this group on the ‘Leopoldplatz’ and others, that many of them will experience the same power within their lives.

IMG_3135‘Leopoldplatz’

Berlin is a city with the potential for more than one Victory Outreach Church in the future. The Church in Berlin is still young and the task ahead might even seem to be overwhelming, but with God the impossible becomes possible. The congregation might be small, but is already International: Poland, Philippines, Holland, Pakistan, Suriname and more countries are represented here and with the right strategy Berlin can be the home of a base, a launching path for the rest of Europe to dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.

“The reason so many people never get anywhere in life is because when opportunity knocks, they are out in the backyard looking for four-leaf clovers” -Walter P. Chrysler

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