DULUTH — Wendell Webb and his wife Carrie Blackaby Webb (Henry Blackaby’s daughter) are Southern Baptist missionaries in Nuremberg, Germany. Wendell and Carrie have been career missionaries in Germany since 2001, serving as team leaders and church planters with the International Mission Board.
Wendell spoke in chapel at the Georgia Baptist Missions and Ministry Center this week of the challenge of sharing the Gospel in a nation almost impervious to a Christian witness, but gave some moving examples of how the Holy Spirit has miraculously been working in the lives of those with whom he has shared the Gospel.
After two years in Regensburg, where the Webbs were engaged in learning the language and culture of the German people, they moved to Hochsauerland. While in Hochsauerland they mentored young believers and were engaged in a church-planting ministry. However, for the past three years the Webbs have been serving the Lord in metropolitan Nuremburg.
Missionaries in the land of reformation
Those familiar with World War II history are well aware that the first international war crimes trial began in Nuremberg in November 1945. The 22 defendants on trial were seen as the living embodiments of a repressive and warmongering system, which had propelled the world into six years of war.
Nuremberg was chosen as the location for the trial for both practical and symbolic reasons. First, the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg and its adjoining prison had emerged intact from the Allied bombing of Germany. Second, Nuremberg was considered the spiritual birthplace of the Nazi state and had hosted the party’s annual rallies.
Wendell stated, “People often ask, ‘Why do we need missionaries in the land of the reformation?’ However, Germany is a post-Christian nation, very dark spiritually. Where we live in Hochsauerland 98 percent of the population is Catholic. And recently, the Catholic diocese made a decision to close half of the cathedrals in that area. The people in Germany have a religion, but not a faith or a relationship with Jesus Christ.
“It’s not an easy mission field,” Wendell explained. “There has been some fruit, but not much. We have poured our lives into the people of Germany. Some of the relationships we have made and changed lives we have witnessed have been extremely encouraging.”
“For example, there was a young woman, Miriam, that we met when she was 17-years-old,” Wendell continued. “We started teaching her the Bible and watched her grow in the faith. After years of spiritual growth she is now leading her own Bible study and God is using her to reach out to others.”
There is now a viable church in Hochsauerland where the Webbs invested much time and effort.
In Nuremburg the Webbs have successfully utilized two different Starbucks as a fitting place to meet people and share the Gospel. In the last three years Wendell said he has encountered a Buddhist who turned away from the Gospel and a Georgian Orthodox who trusted Christ, became a part of the Starbucks Bible Study group, and then joined the Experiencing God fellowship.
Two who were reached
However, there are two men that Wendell has been able to reach for Christ who have become powerful witnesses. The first is Max. Max was an atheist and bass guitarist in a heavy metal band. Wendell stated, “Max typically wears a beret, has a strip of beard from ear to ear, wears an earring, and has tattoos.”
“Max lived with his girlfriend who professed to be a Christian. In German Bibles adultery, fornication, and pre-marital sex are all defined by the same word, which signifies that sexual relations are only wrong when one of the sexual partners is married.”
“However, when Max became a Christian he realized he could no longer live with his girlfriend. Additionally, when he got in the Bible study and began to weigh the teaching of God’s Word with the lyrics of the songs his band played, he realized that he could no longer stay in the band.”
‘Rejoicing in the truth’
“On another occasion, Max was contemplating a move to Cologne and asked me to tell him what he should do. I told him that only God could give him that decision and he needed to pray about it. The Holy Spirit led Max to read Jeremiah 42. Max read that chapter, came back, and said, ‘I can’t go to Cologne. God would kill me there. I will stay here.’”
Wendell remarked, “Max is on fire for the Lord. He has remained in Nuremburg and now works as a butcher in grocery store in the Mall.”
“He asked me one day, ‘What is the tithe?’ I explained that it was ten percent of his income and something God required. He reasoned that he was barely making ends meet and couldn’t afford to tithe. I just told him to go home and read Malachi. He came back the next day and said, “I have got to tithe, because I can’t steal from God.’
“The next month he give a tithe to his church at the first of the month and was amazed that at the end of the month he had paid all his bills and had money left over. He was rejoicing at the truth of God’s Word.”
Encouragement from sowing
Another person Wendell met at Starbucks is Daniel, who is the manager of an adventure vacations kioske also in the mall. Wendell exclaimed, “Daniel has a seven-inch Mohawk, tattoos, a stud in his tongue, earrings, two spears in one ear, and piercings in his nose and eyebrows. But now Daniel has been saved and unashamedly shares his faith. In fact Daniel and Max tag team in the mall witnessing to people.”
The soil is hard in Germany and the seeds seldom find fertile ground, but the Webbs are faithfully sowing Gospel seeds and are encouraged when they see people like Miriam, Max, and Daniel come to faith in Christ.
Wendell said, “We are so grateful for Southern Baptists’ support of our missionary endeavors. So many missionaries of other entities have to come back to the States every six months or so and raise money for their ministry. We don’t do that. We can stay on the field and serve and have continuity in our ministry. I am thankful for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and grateful for the Woman’s Missionary Union, because they are the driving force behind the offering. I have nothing but respect for the WMU.”
Baptists in Georgia and America must become more zealous than ever to bear our witness here at home, because Wendell stated that he believes the United States is only about five years behind Germany in the slide into secularization and Gospel resistance.