“I don’t understand; I don’t think most Americans understand. Why are people in Germany and all over Europe protesting what is going on in the USA?”
This was my question to my German friend as he and I talked over coffee one day not long ago. He thought of several reasons that Europeans reacted in solidarity with the protesters in the U.S. First, America’s number one export is culture. Many Europeans love America, Americans and American culture. So, naturally, what happens in America very much affects Europeans.
However, another reason Europeans—especially Germans—reacted so strongly in protest was, perhaps, their own feelings of the mistreatment of immigrants here in Germany. Back in 2015, Middle Eastern and Northern African immigrants flooded into Germany seeking asylum and refuge. Some have built new lives for themselves, but many others still struggle and face discrimination. Many Germans want to see immigrants flourishing with a better life.
This provides wonderful opportunities for missionaries here in Europe. As the COVID-19 crisis seems to wind down here in Europe, many Europeans are angry, scared and confused. During this time, they are looking for answers and a way forward. As missionaries, we can provide some life-changing answers.
God’s goodness in the world
One of the conversations we have regularly with our German partners, neighbors and friends is about the justice of God. The COVID-19 pandemic reminded the world in a powerful way that this world is broken. It needs to be redeemed. It needs to be made knew. Because of this, we have regular conversations about the problem of evil and the goodness and justice of God.
“Why doesn’t he just fix it all already?” or “Why doesn’t he do anything about it now?” are just some of the questions we frequently talk about. The answer is, God has done something, is doing something, and will do something about the brokenness and evil in the world. When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, he defeated the powers of evil. He also began the process of restoring and redeeming all of creation. He is slowly healing the world and we as His followers get to be a part of that process.
The world is broken, and people are still struggling. But Jesus is the Savior and King of the world. And he has called everyone everywhere to repent and follow Him on His mission to make all things new. Missionaries are on the front line of that work, and that is exciting!
God’s justice for society
Because we have received the free gift of salvation, we share it with others. We share the message of hope and forgiveness in Christ. We show the love of God in our neighborhoods and in the context of our local church. We work to bring others to the kingdom and bring the kingdom to others. People can see and experience a better way of living—a more just way of living—and they can see a clear picture of the true just One who deeply loves them and invites them to join in His family.
However, with the issue of racism, we have to be even clearer. As Christians, our vision is that one day people from every nation, tribe and tongue will be together with King Jesus in the new creation. But we want to share a glimpse of that future in the world right now. We are forgiven people who are fully loved and accepted by God. We want to bring the radical peace to the lost and show them what it is like to live in a world without racism, discrimination, prejudice or hate. We give them a glimpse of what heaven is like. We show them how to live and love with Jesus as the center of their life.
Because of Jesus, we have a basis on which to say, “Racism is wrong.” Jesus’ people come from every nation, tribe and tongue. In his eyes, they are all equal—equally loved and equally valuable. We should eliminate racism from society not simply because it is “bad” or “wrong” or because it ruins other people’s lives (though those are certainly good reasons). We should eliminate racism from society because Jesus is building a new world where all people will live and love as one family. It is our job to take that message and that new world into our neighborhoods and cities and transform them by the power of the gospel.
That’s why we work as missionaries. To bring the good news of Jesus Christ to a world that is asking questions. To bring them the one true answer to every question, the solution to every problem. The American protests are causing Europeans to ask good questions. Missionaries all over Europe are offering the gospel as the answer.
Lucas Wilburn* is an IMB missionary serving among European peoples.
*Name changed for security