“There is no room in the Lord’s house for hatred”
Lit tea-lights in the shape of a heart in Luxembourg, flowers and a “Pray for Paris” banner in Germany: the terror attacks last Friday in Paris have left people in shock, especially in Europe. But the District Apostles are also directing attention beyond Europe’s borders, to other parts of the world.
The strains of “J’ouvre les portes de mon Coeur” (I open the doors to my heart) are ringing through the church. The youth choir is standing on the balcony of our church in Metz (France), singing. They have raised their clasped hands in tribute. “There was tremendous emotion,” District Apostle Bernd Koberstein said, when he went to celebrate Holy Communion for the departed during the divine service. “Many were overpowered by their emotions and could not sing any more.”
A country in shock
Two days after the terror attacks in Paris, District Apostle Koberstein was on a scheduled visit in the north-eastern part of France. “I was glad I had the opportunity to be close to my brothers and sisters in France, who are all terribly shocked by these attacks.” The divine service for the congregation in the heart of Paris, Paris-Centre, had to be cancelled on Sunday because one of the attacks on Friday—in which ten people were killed—took place in the immediate vicinity of the church.
At the beginning of the divine service in Metz the congregation rose for a special prayer for all the victims and their families. “This prayer triggered tremendous emotion. After the service, the District Apostle spoke with two young brothers in faith who lost two of their friends in the Paris attacks.”
Trust in God gives comfort and strength
“What can we do when something like this happens?” District Apostle Bernd Koberstein asks in a letter that will be read to the congregations in France this week. “Let us do what small children would do. If something terrible happens they run to their mom or dad. Let us go to our heavenly Father and put our small hand into His big hand. This is how we want to pray together—for ourselves, for the victims, and their families, and for all people who are suffering.”
Other District Apostles responded in a similar vein. “We are praying for all those who are suffering,” District Apostle Rüdiger Krause of Northern Germany said. “We are seeking the nearness to God, who is and remains a refuge for us.”
“These events have shocked us,” District Apostle Rainer Storck of North Rhine-Westphalia wrote. “Let us pray for the victims and their families in particular, but let us also live for peace in the world.”
Suffering not only at our doorstep
And the District Apostles were not only in agreement in terms of expressing their sympathy and appealing for prayers. “Many people worldwide are suffering from terror, extremism, and war,” District Apostle Markus Fehlbaum of Switzerland said in response and, similar to his colleagues, drew attention to the huge amount of suffering throughout the world every day.
“Hatred has many faces around the world, District Apostle Michael Ehrich of Southern Germany said, and made an appeal to pray for all people who find themselves in such situations.
“There is no room for hatred in God’s house,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider said in a divine service in Zwickau (Germany) this past Sunday. “I cannot assume that all Christians are terrible people because a few Christians did something bad. And I cannot hate all Muslims only because they are Muslims and because a few of them did terrible things.” Considering everything it is not easy to remain in the house of the Lord and to leave hatred outside. “But we want to be overcomers, after all. Our world needs people with such an attitude.”