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Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

2017 Sabre Goes to Rev. Dr. Gottfried Martens and Trinity Lutheran Church of Berlin

The Sabre of Boldness for 2017 went to the Reverend Dr. Gottfried Martens and his congregation Trinity Lutheran Church in Berlin, Germany, for their steadfastness in the face of possible deportations, beatings, and threats of death for conversion to Christianity as over a thousand members of the congregation have come from Persia and other Muslim lands to the joy of knowing and being baptized into Christ.

Pastor Martens was a nominee for the second straight year. He had been pastor of St. Mary’s Lutheran Church in Berlin for many years, a church which has seen hundreds of refugees come in, Muslims seeking the truth and finding it under his preaching and catechesis, being baptized and brought into his congregation. His success among the immigrants has put his name in the German news, and so has put him personally at risk, due to the violence that so easily attaches itself to the Muslim extremists who do not take kindly to losing nearly a thousand converts to Christianity.

Dr. Martens has recently become pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Berlin-Steglitz, which is almost entirely comprised of immigrants who have converted to the Lutheran faith. But the German governmenthas recently begun to deny en masse the refugee claims of many of these converts, following what Dr. Martens is calling deeply flawed refugee hearings. The problem, Dr. Martens says, is that “Many [of those hearing the cases] are manifestly clueless about the situation of Christians in Iran and Afghanistan, and worse yet they are utterly clueless concerning questions relating to the Christian faith. But all of this does not prevent them from assuming the role of self-appointed experts, whose questions ‘unmask’ the supposedly deceitful Iranian asylum applicants one after another, even when those hearing the cases don’t even know the difference between the [Apostle’s] Creed, and the Our Father [Lord’s Prayer].” The challenges come after a year of other difficulties, as converts to Christianity have faced increasing persecution from Muslim refugees angry at their conversions from Islam. Congregational members and candidates for baptism are being attacked, sometimes beaten and threatened them with death, both in Germany and from their homeland to which deportation is threatened The refugees are instructed in the Christian faith prior to baptism—or excluded, if a genuine conversion is not evident. Currently baptisms sit at between 30 and 40 a month.

What the editors have chosen decided for this year is to offer the Sabre of Boldness for 2017 to Rev. Dr. Martens and his congregation, Trinity in Berlin-Steglitz.

Rev. Wilhelm Torgeson, a close acquaintance of Dr. Martens and an adjunct professor at the Lutheran seminary in St. Catharines, Ontario, was on hand to receive the award on their behalf.