The Hermsdorf Exchange
For 36 years there was an exchange between a Dutch Reformed church in the town of Krabbendijke and a German Lutheran church in the town of Hermsdorf. It was set up during the time that the (East) German Christians were persecuted and restricted to worship. During this time many Dutch Reformed churches created partnerships for the spiritual encouragement of German churches and believers. These partnerships continued for many years even after the fall of the wall in 1998 between East and West Germany.
Today most of these partnerships have ended because of the aging of the members on both sides.
Atlantic Bridge, seeking new ways to build bridges of faith and friendship, has concluded that these old foundations are a great platform for building a new bridge, a bridge between young believers in the west and young people in the East, most of whom would be very cricital about anything that has to do with church and God. In a different way, young Christians in the west can be an encouragement to young Christians in the East. On top of that, it can also be a great avenue for building bridges of faith to the many young people who do not have the connection to the church or the Christian faith. In East Germany, the former DDR, the percentage of young people who do not believe is more than 90% of all youth.
These regions in Eastern Germany and also the Czech Republic are are a mission field.
START OF A NEW BRIDGE
In October 2016 contact was made with the Gymnazium in Hermsdorf by musician Jerry from New York and the AB Intern team made up of Sophie, Brigita and Sandor. They had four lesson concerts after which twelve students signed up for more information about building bridges. Pity that these twelve students were in their final year of school. We also made contact with the Lutheran church and had an evening meal with pastor Wolff after which we shared music and about the possibilities for their youth, only four young people ages 13 and 14 were there. At that time we also made contact with the Frei Evangelische Gemeinde and that began a different and more promising journey.
After several visits to Hermsdorf and meeting with the youth from the Frei Evangelische Gemeinde, a First Contact Team from Hermsdorf came to Krabbendijke for a weekend the end of October 2017.