by guest author, Alethea Horning
July 2012 marked a big turning point in my family’s life. We moved to Germany for three years. My husband is an active duty service member in the Air Force and moving is just part of the job. Each move is a new adventure full of uncertainties and excitement. However, moving overseas was not quite like any other move before. Moving to a country that does not speak English as their first language is very scary. A new culture, new language and new adventures awaited us in Germany.
At the top of our list of things to do, once we were in Germany was to find a church. Having a church family is a very important part of our lives. While we still had our church family back in the states, we knew we would need a church locally, as well. We knew we wanted to find an English speaking church but finding that off the military installation is hard. Many German churches offer headphones to use during their service which, translate to English, but that was not appealing to us. We wanted to find a place we could talk with other people in English, build relationships with them and our two daughters wanted to participate and make friends in a children’s program. During the first few months of living in Germany, we checked out three different churches, two on post at our military installation and one off post. While each one offered something good, none of them was a good fit for our family.
Four months after we moved to Germany we found our church home at Stuttgart Military Community Church (SMCC). It was a brand new church, whose goal was to reach out to military families. It was a perfect fit. Our pastor, Matt Leighty, and his wife, Stacey, left their life behind in Texas to follow God’s calling to Germany. If anyone could relate to what military families go through with moving overseas it was those two. The new adventures, new language and new culture were a part of their lives as well. We were soon to find out why having a local church family is important.
One of the biggest fears people have when moving overseas is that something bad will happen to their loved ones back home. Flying back to the states from Germany requires a lot of money, time and patience. For most families living overseas, they will not experience a loved one’s death in the 2-4 years they live there. However, there are some families, like mine, who will. Just seven months after moving I received the dreaded phone call that my brother had unexpectedly died. Two days later, we were on a plane back to the states. Not being near family for those two days was very tough. I am thankful for an amazing church who came together and donated funds to help with expenses and most importantly the endless amount of prayers for my family.
Attending SMCC has changed my whole family and helped in our spiritual growth, especially during the difficult time of grieving my brother. This was our first church that had a pastor who preached sermons, which many pastors would not dare talk about. Pastor Matt knows the importance of preaching what the Bible says, even if it can make people uncomfortable. Due to an open and honest pastor, we have been more motivated to look in our Bible and learn more. Gone are the days of figuring out problems for ourselves and stressing about issues we cannot control. Now we bring our questions, worries and fears to God for guidance and help.
Living overseas can be lonely at times. It is comforting to know that our church has the same feelings we do, that Pastor Matt and Stacey miss their families as much as we miss ours or that we miss our American shopping stores or eating at our favorite American restaurants. Having a church family locally is what makes our good times even better and makes the tough times easier to handle.