Berlin 2024 updates

We'll be updating this page throughout the trip.  Check in here to learn what's happening with the team serving in Berlin from June 26 - July 6, 2024

Final reflections

Day 10 - Friday, July 5

Our final day here.

Today we walked the longest stretch of the Berlin Wall that is still standing.  We took time to reflect on the themes from from the week. 

We spent time together with the Envision Berlin team to talk through what it would look like to practice the ministries of prayer, learning, and presence at home.

One thing we haven't mentioned yet is that we started and ended every day with liturgy.  This liturgy was based on the Celtic Daily Prayer Daily Office, and included scriptures, daily readings, and meditations curated by the Envision team.  Not only did these readings help to frame our days through focusing our hearts and minds on scripture and different themes, but they also were another way that we lived out the church's mission in Berlin.  

Reading scriptures communally and praying for others is another way that we fought "against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6;12). 

There's a real tension between what many of us expect a "Mission Trip" to look like, and what it looks like to live on mission in a city that is not open to the gospel.  The soil is hard here and it can take years to build trust with someone from East Berlin to the point where they would feel comfortable meeting up for coffee or inviting you over for dinner.  Situations like this test our faith.  Do we really believe that prayer is our primary work?  Or do we think we have to "do" something more for a trip to be a success? 

To have gone and learned and prayed and been present was exactly what God was calling us to "do."  In faith, we  believe and know that God used our presence and our prayers to soften the spiritual soil of that community in a way that would not have happened if we had not gone.

We are all so grateful for this opportunity, and I'm sure that the team will be processing all that God did within us for quite some time.  Thank you to all who prayed for us and all who gave to send us. 



Learning to UnLearn

Day 9 - Thursday, July 4

Today we spent the morning prepping for a 4th of July party that Juri hosted for everyone who comes to his Language Cafe's.  We bought groceries, put together a grill, and prepped veggies.

In the afternoon we took a walking tour of Weißen See, the neighborhood Sprig is located in, to learn about the Jewish heritage and hear the stories of Jewish people who lived there and were sent to their death at concentration camps.  This tour ended in one of the largest Jewish graveyards in Europe.

After the walk spent some time debriefing, focusing on Lament.  Steven shared with us the idea that there are certain things we need to unlearn in order to lament:

  • Unlearn speed by tending to wounds
  • Unlearn distance through pilgrimage, a slower, walking together
  • Unlearn innocence through acknowledging our participation in the brokenness of the world

There's more to be said on all of those...

We then hopped on a train (with the grill!) to head to a park to help with the 4th of July party.  It was a lot of fun helping to create a space for people from all over the world to share a meal together.

From Cady -

As I think about the time in Berlin, it’s been really great. God has stretched me in ways I was not expecting and helped grow a deeper understanding of culture and how evangelism has to look different depending on the context and history of the people. 

It causes you to rely on God’s strengths and putting it in his hands, not relying on what you have done. It’s difficult because it takes faith and a lot of prayer, but it is really rewarding. 

We were able to throw a 4th of July party for some refugees and though there was a language barrier for most of them and I, it’s amazing how food and a frisbee can bring you together to create community and show love. 

God is showing his love to the people here through those that are faithful and willing to put in the time to truly build relationships and reputation with the people. 

A ministry of presence

Day 8 - Wednesday, July 3

Today we spent time in the morning to process the trip so far together.  We talked about our experience of sabbath in a foreign city.  We shared God sightings and themes that are surfacing.  We processed emotions and the variety of things we've been feeling.

After lunch we went to a place that has become home for about 300 "Neue Deutsche" (or who we might call refugees) to help re-finish some benches, put together some raised garden beds, transplant some plants, and help to paint some decorations for a summer party they're hosting in a few weeks.

After three years of bringing groups to this place, the volunteer coordinator swapped phone numbers with the Berlin team to coordinate more frequent connections.  This is a relationship that has slowly been fostered by the presence of multiple teams. 

After a quick dinner, we helped to host an event called Art 'O Clock

From Mike - 

I’m struck by the unique identity and flavor that each of us bring to our world. Tonight we participated in an art showcase held by the Envision team dubbed ‘Art O Clock’ in which they provide a space for artists to share pieces they have been working on. Several of their team and a couple of ours had the opportunity to share works among one another. 

As an artist, I loved having the opportunity to present a piece of music I’d written, and receive feedback and engagement from a supportive audience, as well as seeing others showcase their talent. It was an evening of sharing and blessing others with who God has created me to be, as well as being blessed by who he has made others to be. 

I’m reminded of the beauty of the body of Christ and the people he has created. I’m also reminded of the beauty of Jesus himself in that we are in his image and reflect our creator!


From Jonathan - 

I had the opportunity to visit the home of Aaron & Rhoda, international workers with Arab communities in Berlin, and asked him what we could do as short term missionaries to help support their work. He answered saying to pray on the ground for God to continue to allow them to plant & water seeds and to ourselves show the love of God through actions in working behind the scenes in small ways. 

He spoke longingly of having a thanksgiving meal and having teams help to serve and how this simple act of love, seen by the people they were interacting with would have long-lasting effects, like a stone thrown into still water.

I then proceeded to play games with him and 2 others and spend time enjoying a hobby we both love. This I think is also something we can do for them, coming and dwelling with them for a time--a cool drink of water from the well of home.

Re-learning Gospel

Day 6 - Monday, July 1

Germany has welcomed refugees with open arms, beginning with workers from Turkey and Hungary to help rebuild after World War II.  Since then, due to a variety of factors, when a nearby country has been in crisis, Germany has said, "Come."  This has led to a substantial population in Berlin who come from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and now Ukraine.  

Many of these cultures are vastly different from our individualistic culture that focuses on our individual guilt or innocence.  Saying that Jesus died for your individual sins may mean nothing to someone who comes from a culture based on shame and honor.   In a sense, there is a re-learning of the Gospel.

From Christie - 

This morning we gathered together for more learning. You've probably noticed a theme in the past few days' updates that we seem to spend a lot of time here studying the history and learning the culture. But as our Envision hosts have explained, our willingness to learn is a huge part of their ministry. As Mike, Steven, and the rest of the team seek to build relationships and trust with the East Germans, they are frequently asked what we (teams from the US) are doing here, and when the Germans are given the response that we are here to learn, it touches them deeply. 

Many people here have been taught that Americans and American missionaries in particular come because "they think they know everything and are going to 'fix' us." So they begin to trust when they see our humility and willingness to learn from them. Many of us come with presuppositions about how to do ministry and how to share the gospel. 

Today's learning opportunity was how to see the gospel in 3D, instead of just from our usual perspective. We talked of how different cultures hold different values in priority. We learned how our words may have certain connotations that they don't have at home. For example, "Christian" here is more associated with being part of the American political system; it's a very different thing to say, "I am a Christian," compared to, "I believe in Jesus." It has taken quite a bit of humility to sit and think about how I may be able to  do or say things differently, even back at home in PA.

This afternoon, we had an incredible opportunity to tour an Arab neighborhood and learn about the many cultures represented there. Axcess staff member Uri led us through and shared how he reaches out as an Arab-American. He describes his job as building bridges between Arabs and Germans that will hold up the truth in love. We capped off the evening when Uri treated us to chicken shawarma and baklava!

Prayer Requests

  • Uri runs conversation groups to connect with Arabic speakers. He's looking for partnerships  with new businesses who will host new conversation groups.   Please pray that Jesus provides these connections in the right parts of town.
  • Pray for Uri and his family as he and his wife settle back into life here in Berlin after being on home assignment for a year. And praise God as they celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary!
  • Pray for God to continue to draw the refugees  from the middle east who have resettled in Berlin to Himself. 
  • Tomorrow's a Sabbath day for the team here. Pray for us as we take a day of rest.

With the  sabbath in mind, we won't be sharing updates tomorrow, July 2.

Loving through Learning

Day 5 - Sunday, June 30

One way we love and respect the people of Berlin is through learning about their past.  Our presence at Bernauer Straße, one of the places along the Berlin wall where people escaped through jumping out of buildings or tunneling underground, is an indirect way that we can show the love of Christ to Berliners.  As the team here interacts with locals, one way they have found they are able to build a foundation of trust and respect is by helping the teams  that come to better know and understand the history of the people of Berlin. This means a lot to them.

The photo to the right is of a mural near the wall.  It's a knife with Berlin 1961-1989 written on it (the dates that the wall was up), cutting through flesh, the fat of which outlines the city of Berlin.  It's hard to imagine what it would feel like to live through, be born into, or grow up within this context.

Please pray for the people of Berlin and the international workers who are here to serve, connect, and share the love of Jesus with them.

Here's a rundown of the day from Ryan.

From Ryan - 

Another eventful day here in Berlin. We began by splitting up in small groups to visit different church services running in Berlin.

Afterwards, we all gathered back together to attend a small festival, eat lunch and receive a tour. The tour was presented by Steven (an Envision member here). We got to sight see sections of what’s left of the Berlin Wall as well as hear about its history. It’s one thing to hear about the wall’s history but to actually see it and get a better feeling of what life was like in that time period is something completely different and surreal. Our friend Steven did a great job!

We then concluded our day by grabbing supper at a place where we relaxed and watch the England vs. Slovakia soccer game. Good job England and praise God for another day in Berlin!

Mission through Prayer

Day 4 - Saturday, June 29

Today we spent the morning in an intensive German Language class and then were sent out on our own to use our new skills to order lunch! 

After lunch ,Jenny from Envision Berlin taught on prayer walking, and just like the morning, we were sent out to practice what we learned, joining with the team here to help plowing the spiritually rocky soil of this place.

In the late afternoon we had Kaffee & Kuchen (Coffee & Cake), a tradition among many German families, with several members of the C&MA's aXcess team, to learn about how they are connecting with Germans and the immigrant Arabic population in Berlin.

After debriefing with the team over dinner at an Indian Restaurant, several of us stuck around for a worship jam night, welcoming the Spirit in the midst of a dark place.

Here's another update from the team:

From Emily - 

As we stepped off the plane and into Berlin several days ago, I realized that of all the countries I've visited, this was the first time in my adult years that I have gone to a country where I didn't have a decent grasp of the language. My German is minimal, and though not comfortable, I can appreciate this as an opportunity to put myself in the shoes of the many people who experience language challenges and discomforts in our country regularly. May we be compassionate to them, and approach them with the heart of Jesus.

As I sit here, trying to put to words my feelings and reflections, I realize that it will take a long time to fully process what we're learning about God, about Berlin, about ourselves, and about ministry in a different context. We are being stretched in good, beautiful, and hard ways - but not in the ways you might automatically assume when one goes on a "missions trip." We are definitely having opportunities to serve in obvious ways on this trip, and I pray God is able to use us mightily (most likely in ways that we may never fully understand). Just as importantly, He is also teaching us, stretching our minds, and expanding our experiences beyond our American church bubble, and I pray that by setting aside our presuppositions, quieting our hearts, and leaning in, that we might allow Him to transform us as we consider how God might move when we're willing to think out of the box.

Ways you can pray:

  • Pray for several events that we will be helping with, including a 4th of July party
  • Pray for rest and refreshment for our bodies. Several of the the team members are still really feeling the effects of the jet lag and heat combined with lots of activity/movement.
  • Pray for the Envision and aXcess teams here in Berlin as there are several transitions happening now and in the coming months

Reflecting on the past

Day 3 - Friday, June 28

Today's goal was to learn.  We learned about more of the history of this city and Germany, as well as how this site seeks to reach people.  We took a walking tour of the city, seeing many of the historical landmarks, such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Dome,  remnants of the wall, and memorials to those killed in the  Holocaust. 

Here are some reflections from the team:

From Cady -

I prayed before coming on this trip and when we first arrived that God would show up and use me. I didn’t know exactly what we would be doing, I felt I was probably going to be inadequate, but I asked God to use me in my inadequacies for His glory. I felt insecure about a language barrier and not knowing much German. 

During one of the meetings with the team we had a small break and I walked next door to the office for something and was walking back when a man on the street tried to talk to me in German. I was able to communicate that I don’t speak German and he asked if I speak Spanish. I told him no and felt a little bad that I couldn’t talk to him. But then a staff member (Steven) saw him and the man walked down the sidewalk toward him and asked him what he needed. It ended up being that he was asking what the groups here do and Steven was able to share what the team at Envision does. 

It hit me immediately that I was completely worthless in the situation, but due to me being on the side walk in that time and place, God was able to use my presence to spark curiosity in the man and was able to then speak to Steven. It was cool to see God in that moment.

From Jeremy - 

31 hours passed from when I woke up in my house in Lock haven until I laid my head down on my new temporary German bed. We explored the city and fought to keep ourselves awake to adjust to the time zone we will be living in for the next week and a half. Despite the incredible fatigue and the heat that we thought we left in Pennsylvania, I was surprisingly comfortable. Berlin is a very nice place. Being an international city, most people speak English, public transportation gets an out of place guy like me around the city with little effort. The food is high quality and affordable. Basic needs are clearly met and exceeded. I’ve never seen a shower with such fantastic water pressure! I’m finding myself more comfortable here than at home in the US. 

As I started my second day here in Germany the Lord pressed upon me what it really is that makes ministry difficult here in Berlin. Things are really nice here… without God in people’s lives. The question that many people would meet you with is, “Why is God relevant in my life?” There isn’t an immediate danger people need to be rescued from. Food, shelter, and basic needs are pretty well taken care of. When I told people I was going on a trip to Berlin for a “short term mission”, I got some weird looks. I totally understand, but consider, what is the elevator pitch to give somebody you meet under these comfortable conditions? A quick pitch just doesn’t exist here. It takes the elevator breaking and being trapped with a person long enough to become good friends. That's the point you can introduce them to what the gospel supplies. Relationships need to be built, and in that trust you can show people what they are missing. Germans are holding a lot on their shoulders from their rather recent dark history. Building a peaceful modern society around you doesn’t guarantee peace in your life. It’s Jesus that lifts you up to that status of shamelessness and peace. The workers here are few, and they can’t see the other end of the vast harvest field. Please pray for them.

We arrived

Day 2 - Thursday, June 27

The team traveling to Berlin landed safely at 7am local time (1 am EST!) and had a looong first day. All are well and are excited to be present, serve the team here, and engage with the people we encounter... and to sleep.

Today we started to get our bearings in the city and connect with the team here through sharing meals, and splitting into two teams for a photo s scavenger hunt in and around Alexanderplatz.

I'm struck by the Envision Berlin team's recognition of limits (theirs... ours...)  and our need to make space for God to speak.  They have events and projects planned for us, but more importantly there is intentional connect and commune with God and one another. 

Pray that our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds would be open to receiving whatever Jesus wants to show, say, or reveal to us while we're here.

We're on our way!

Day 1 - Wednesday, June 26

We left the church this morning at 9am and had a mostly traffic free drive to the Newark Airport.  Our plane is scheduled to depart at 5:05pm!

After an 8 hour flight, we arrive at 7:15 AM, so we're anticipating a very short night of sleep and a very long day ahead of us after we land. Please pray that we adapt to the new time zone quickly and that we can get some rest while we fly.

Thanks for praying for us as we travel!


On June 26th, we will fly out of Newark, NJ with a direct flight to Berlin, and we will fly home on July 6th.  We currently have a team of 9 people who are preparing and raising funds to go.

Our team has been meeting monthly since October to get to know one another, pray together, learn about German culture, and simply share meals and have fun together!  We want to not only be prepared as individuals but also as a unified team of people. As we prepare to go, we wanted to share some ways in which you can be praying with and for us:

  • Praise: flights & lodging have been booked! We just have some final details to figure out.
  • For God to stir up hunger in our hearts for more of Him and the discipline to set aside time to be with our Heavenly Father so that our "doing" on this trip may be coming from the overflow of being WITH Jesus.
  • For Mike & Elyssa Picconatto and the team on the ground in Berlin, who is gearing up for a busy summer of hosting teams like us.
  • That we might be soft hearted, humble and courageous, willing to step up and do whatever we are asked once our feet are on the ground in Berlin.
  • Praise God with us that our trip is fully funded!
Thank you for your prayer support and to those who have supported us financially, we are so grateful.  

Envision Berlin

Envision is a short-term mission and internship organization within our denomination, the Christian and Missionary Alliance. They focus on reaching the lost with the hope of Jesus, while developing and unleashing the next generation of Kingdom leaders. 

The site in Berlin, Germany is committed to raising a generation of innovative missional leaders through short-term trips, internships, and residencies, by way of intentional involvement with our long term ministry presence in the community. Watch the video linked here or check out their website linked below!

Learn More about the site