Randy and Katy Smelser

Americans living in Germany but citizens of heaven

In the Corona Era - People need hope


We still are trying to meet with people despite the tightened lockdown. We can have single people over for fires. We asked Sibylle if she would like to come and it took about a milli-second for her to say yes. At the end of the 2 hours we somehow got on the subject of baptism. She had only ever experienced baby sprinkling so when we explained the idea of the old man dying and the new rising out of the water she could grasp the idea with sprinkling in mind but when we explained immersion, she thought it was fascinating.

Another man, who little or no faith, came over. We usually see each other several times a year including the Christmas Eve service but not in 2020. His wife has moved out and the son (17 yr.old) goes back and forth. He opened up about it.

We also have been watching movies with the Syrian Family. We can have 2 over if only one of us is there. We use the bigger room that is off the backyard and that the church uses. It has a screen and we use our projector. It is good to keep in contact with them. The kids are not in school and he is unemployed so they have almost no contact with anyone outside the family.


Fireside chats…We have had almost everyone in the church and several non-church people over for “Cake and Coffee” outside on the terrace with a fire blazing. No one has stayed for less than 2 hours. With prep time we are outside over 3 hours and are very thankful for a warm house to come back into. With Lockdown Tight we are now allowed only one person for a visit. So we have had to cancel two dates with couples. We will see about having one person over.


To be safe we are having a few people over but outside. We make a fire on the patio and light candles and eat and drink and talk outside. A woman came over last Saturday and we thought she would have hot punch and talk for an hour and then leave. She was starved for social contact so she stayed over 2 hours. I let the fire get smaller and smaller to see if she would leave but she just huddled closer to the flames. Finally, Katy said she had to go in or she would freeze. It was in the 30’s and of course dark being after 4:30 pm. Encouragement is still possible as we try to meet with people in a safe way. We will see how long the wood lasts that I have been collecting over the years but we are burning through quickly


We have been ministering by being open ears recently.

I have talked a couple of times with the German teacher who is teaching the class meeting in our building. She had to leave quickly one day because her father was on his death bed.

At the gym one man was back who I have not seen for many months. His wife and I were in a step aerobics class together years ago. He started the conversation that he could now come back because his wife is now in a nursing home. She had had a brain tumor a few years ago and he has been caring for her but she has gone so far downhill that he can no longer carry on.

In my English class I have an English teacher. This is not my first English teacher in my class. Sometimes the teachers need practice themselves and so they come to my class. She is working with 5
th graders which means everything is new for them (grades 1-4 are elementary school and then the kids change schools), on top of the newness is the Corona regulations. She gave the first test and one boy flipped out, totally wild throwing things. We talked quite a while and I mentioned that we as a church have been praying for the teachers.

Another woman in another class (the class best) was not with it in class one evening. I asked her afterwards if everything was okay. She was surprised and thanked me that I would care to ask. No, things were not good. She works at the County Health Services and has to call all day setting up appointments for people to have Corona tests and get in touch with people who have been in contact with Covid. The work is draining. Katy and I keep having these kind of talks. We see it a mission of compassion. The world seems to be on edge (surprised?!) and we want to be beacons of compassion and love.


At the gym the other day I was talking to a guy who plays for a village soccer team. We chat now and then over the last 2 years. We were talking about soccer starting up again and then travel. I mentioned that we had hoped to fly in March to see parents but because of Corona and then somehow the conversation slipped into the fact that my father-in-law passed away in June and we could not go to the States. And then into how we believe and have hope that has helped us through. One of the workers was also in there listening.


It has been exciting the last couple of weeks with reports from people in the church. 1) One woman has been helping a woman, who comes occasionally to special services, with wallpapering. This woman mentioned how amazing “you Christians” are, “you are always helping each other.” She grew up in communist atheistic East Germany. Our member has also been able to occasionally share a few words of faith.


Another woman has been attending church most weeks. She has major problems at home and a woman in our church has taken her under her wings, visiting and calling weekly. We had our first Stammtisch (regulars table) this month with people getting take-out and eating all together in our back yard. Brigitte came and it was the first time I ever saw her laugh. She said how good it was for her.

Another couple in the church invited mutual non-churched friends over for cake and coffee and they started asking about faith and spiritual things.

Our job is not to do everything ourselves but to equip the saints for service (Eph.4:11-12) so when we hear reports like these, we are excited about what the church is doing.


I got a phone call two weeks ago from a woman in my English class. She comes Christmas Eve to church and occasionally to an English service. (When her husband died she asked me to do the memorial service.) She is doing poorly in this Corona situation. She asked to come by and talk. So we talked. I mentioned that she must have some little bit of faith in God or else she would not have asked me to do a Christian memorial for her husband. I suggested that she could pray and ask God to help her. She did not think God would help her because she did not really believe. So we talked about the type of God, God is. She is came over for coffee and cake in the back yard yesterday and we talked more.


March: Last Thursday (before the ban) I was talking with a man in the locker room at the gym about this situation. As the talk developed I was able to bring up the idea that we humans want to have everything in our control and believe we do. But this virus is reminding us that we do not.
Today I called a single older woman (older than me) who had been in my English class for years and attends special services and Christmas Eve at the church. God had laid her on my heart the last couple of days, so I called and we talked for quite a while. She was surprised that I would call and then when I offered to help in any way if she needed it, she was touched. She has fear of this situation. So we are still working with people, just in a different way.

Before everything shut down… the church had a Women’s Breakfast. Several unchurched women attended. One woman was listening intently to the Bible talk and the discussion. Now a woman in our church is getting a “WhatsApp” group together for prayer requests during the Lock Down. And this atheistic woman wants to be on the list along with a couple of other women from outside the church.