4 months ago when we first came to Nürnberg as a small team, we walked all over the city aquatinting ourselves with our new home. The biggest question that came up-"where are we all going to live?"
Before we came into the city we had prayer meeting after prayer meeting to figure out a good strategy for transitioning our team to Nürnberg. How could we take a community that has lived in the tiniest village in Germany and throw them into a big city without loosing… the community? We had so many people from the outside who had experience with urban ministry advising us to live as close as possible to each other. Which was of course our desire. After many brain storming and prayer times we felt we should just go into the city, walk around and allow the Lord to clearly speak to us.
When we first started our walk we went to Südstadt. Südstadt, "south town" is known for it's large array of ethinicity, college students and donors : ) We walked around and started dreaming about what it could look like if we all had apartments in this neighborhood with in walking distance of each other. We walked in the rain from door to door, shop to shop and realtor to realtor asking if anyone knew of apartments for rent. But of course, no one knew anything. LAME. So we decided to "take a break." We sat down and had a beer (gasp, I know, bad christians!) at a cute little beer garden and we prayed (oh, ok, good christians again!) We prayed about where we should live and what the heck Jesus wanted to tell us. We had different impressions but the Lord asked me a very clever question-
"Where would Jesus live?"
This question has stuck with me through this entire process of finding housing. Südstadt at that time did not open doors to us so we took that as a sign to move on. The next four months we went into gorilla tactics for housing. Our team applied for and contacted probably over 100 different places. Apartments, houses, old buildings, you name it, we tried it. Every open house in the city had a YWAMer attending. Every realtor knew who we were and every real-estate website was constantly open on our computers. We gambeled every neighboorhood with the thought that it could work there. And second guest everything God was speaking. NOTHING opened up.
In the mean time God provided temporary housing with families all around the city for all of us. For the past 4 months our team of around 30 people have been spread out in guest rooms, couches, churches and living rooms all over the city. We all have made personal relationships and connections to our host families that have been one of the most precious and welcoming things God could have given us in this time.
For instance, Uli and I are currently living with our dear friends Jon and Gabriella. Bragging moment: Every morning we wake up in our beautiful room, go downstairs and play with the cutest little baby as we get served the most delicious lattes we've ever had. Every night, after a long day of pioneering and house hunting we come home to big hugs, home cooked meals, and friendly ears welcoming a safe and comforting place for us to process the crazy season we are in. Not to mention the sweet board games we play (I will beat you Jon Schneider… I will!) Not having our own home for 3 months now is tough, but God has provided the most incredible families for us all to be cared for in this time. And that is not only His way of providing for us individually, but strategically integrating our team into the city, churches and homes of Nürnberg. You smart God you…
But still…. after 4 months of trying and trying to find housing in one neighborhood with a 10 min walking distance between all the apartments, us leaders made the decision to just find housing wherever we could. We were not happy at all about this decision, but the idea of finding things right next to each other seemed to be impossible and we were really needing to just move in! We laid down our dream and just went for whatever. We thought this would make the search go by faster… we were wrong. Another month went by and still nothing. Did we make the wrong decision? Were we being disobedient? Did we not have enough faith? ARggggHHHH.
Then an impression came to us that "the Mannchens would open the door up for others with housing." hmmm… no pressure. Well, we found a place. That one I shared about earlier( https://themannchens.squarespace.com/blog/2014/6/26/we-have-a-home ) It was in Südstadt! It was perfect. But it wasn't for us. When we walked in I just knew it was for the Tefts. And then God opened up the doors for us to get the other apartment, so we offered that one to the tefts- and they got it! Then the boys and girls found two apartments on seperate floors of one apartment building. Then the other girls found a place! All this happened with in two weeks of each other. When we sat down and looked on the map to see where all these apartments are we realized:
They were all in Südstadt- with in 10 mins walking distance of each other. HOLYGOODNESGRACIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!
When we gave up fighting, God stepped up and fought on our behalf. We released our right to make this housing look the way we wanted it to look and God blessed us by actually providing it. A few days ago a few of us walked passed that beer garden we sat at and prayed at 5 months ago. I remembered the question I was asked: "Where would Jesus live?" I looked up and around our new neighbor hood. I saw Ukranian kids playing soccer on the busy streets. Muslim mothers carrying their babies in the blazzing hot sun. Homeless men laying on the sides walks. Swastikas spray painted on our apartment buildings and the red light district bordering the walls of our neighbored. I didn't have to ask where Jesus would live anymore because I could see Him everywhere!
We've spent the last week moving everyone into their apartments. Driving moving trucks from Herrnhut, carrying boxes up 8 flights of stairs, putting in floors and building our community here in Nürnberg one room at a time! Uli and I don't move into our apartment until September 1st. Which, ok, sucks, but whatever, it's beautiful and it's getting made even more beautiful for us right now- yay! The Pools and a few others still need a place to live, and we just know that God will also provide something for them in this neighborhood. So keep praying for them! But it's HAPPENING!
Sometimes I wonder why we needed to go in circles for 4 months in order to end up right back at the start of where it all began… but I guess sometimes God needs to take us on a long journey in order to get us to see the true beauty and worth of "home". The smiles on my friends faces this week as they settled in was one of the most beautiful things I've seen in awhile. Our soul purpose of our work is to guide as many people as possible back to their home in Christ. To help them through their jounreys of being spiritually or maybe even physically homeless and give them hope and understanding that Jesus is already prepare a room for them in His house. So thank you Jesus for this trying and unexpectedly difficult season of being homeless.. may it always remind us to guide ourselves back to you and our home with in You.
Thanks everyone who has been praying and fighting for us. We couldn't do it without ya!