What a year 2020 this has been! What an interesting year of various challenges and so many opportunities!

I am so grateful for 2020. Grateful for God´s protection. Grateful for health. Grateful for a safe job. Grateful for provision. Grateful for adaptive ministry. Though as for all of us, this past year was very different to what I had anticipated and planned, I look back being so thankful for such a rich year in the midst of many challenges. I have seen God not only provide, but guide and helping me to be agile in my leadership where needed and daring to experiment as much as needed and more.

My verse for the year had been:

„With this is mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Thess 1:11-12

I totally feel this has come to pass. God, who called me helped me to bring to fruition and completion. His grace was enough for 2020. As I look back I am reminded of people, situations and experiences which have made this year extraordinary and gives me hope for the coming year. Yes, there were painful moments but they are overtaken by joy.

Here are some of the special moments of experiencing God´s grace this past year (in no particular order):

  • Had a very active outdoor year. Though I could not run due to an injury in my achilleas tendons, I still managed to be out and about 313 days in 2020 and walked more than 3000 km. A highlight was climbing up the Brocken, northern German highest mountain. Another one was doing the “Oldenburg Marsch” walking 59km. Mad but cool! 
  • Learned to use more than 10 online tools for engagement.
  • Hosted one Living Room Conversation in February with some wonderful mission leaders in our home.
  • Due to Covid-19 and the restrictions to travel, I started to offer online community calls and hosted three for the Lausanne Movement with each attended by 70+ leaders from 40 nations, one for European youth leaders, one each for youth leaders in Kosovo and Bulgaria. It has been so rich and rewarding. 
  • I love to write so I always feel privileged when I am asked to contribute. I have written various articles for magazines like Aufatmen, Troas, Apis, Christival, Idea and contributed stories to two books (Ich bin ein Wunder; Men and women leading together). I have also contributed various blog posts for the WEA Mission Commission, Der Leiterblog, Evangelical Focus etc. My dream had been writing three things…
  • Worked on a series of 5 sessions for youth leaders who are struggling with the impact of Covid-19 on their ministries (together with a friend in Compassion).
  • Got a group of women together in May who are all investing into the next generation of (female) leaders. With several of them, I created a curriculum for a 10-month training with 4 weekends and 4 webinars plus mentoring. It will be launched in March 2021 and the interest is great. A cooperation now with Campus for Christ. Never would I have thought….
  • Received some incredible donations when I was running short and was even able to buy a new bike (pink – of course!). My old one was 35 years old! So 2020 I got back on my bike!
  • Published my first ever academic articles for Global Missiology. Man, this was tough!
  • Joined the new leadership cohort of the WEA Mission Commission and it is a treat with such great people on board.
  • Was invited for a TV casting to become a moderator. Sadly, I was not taken in the end but surely a memorable experience.
  • I had a few days of home office in 2020 and was glad for the extra time when I needed it most for projects while having a very generous aluminium boss.
  • Spoke at various events, mostly online or pre-recorded. My biggest one was live in February speaking to 3,500+ leaders (K5 training). Most via life stream on the topic of “leadership and pain”. I was nervous! 🙂
  • I read up on trends and Covid-19 implications over the past 6 months and am very intrigued about preparing for what is to come. I was invited by the board of the German Evangelical Alliance to speak into their future last September. In November, I did a similar one for the German Lausanne Movement speaking on trends and their implications on missions and evangelism. The uptake has been totally surprising and resulted in writings, a recording of the same message for mission leaders etc.
  • 4 of us sisters enjoyed a weekend away with my dad exploring the area he grew up in (Wuppertal, Remscheid, Eschenbach, Schloss Burg) and went to church on Sunday where our grandfather once was the pastor. Many old people still remember our grandparents and the skilled preacher my grandpa was. We also met some of his relatives for the first time. Very special!
  • Was able to walk the Camino, taking the Portuguese Spanish road in July, the only month with no travel restrictions there. Did 380km in most beautiful scenery. I also experienced the worst pain through my feet covered in blisters. But giving up was not an option. It never is! 
  • Together with my dad, my twin-sister and niece, we visited my brother and his wife in October who had moved to Stuttgart in the summer.
  • Received money from a friend who I had lent money to more than 15 years ago. Miracles are possible! 🙂
  • Partook in some podcasts on leadership and pain and women in leadership. Heartwarming responses and lovely connections.
  • Got surprised by various mission and church leaders who would call me up to get to know me better, ask for my advice and think of ways to cooperate. Some emailed me out of the blue simply to encourage. Some opened up about their own pain journeys.
  • Grateful to my mentor friend Bob M. when I needed his wisdom the most.
  • Attended 3 sessions by Open Doors and the WEA on “Empowering women”. Very useful and timely.
  • Hosted various webinars for the Lausanne younger leaders, one for the WEA on “intergenerational discipleship”, for ELF (a surprise was the high response to my self-management workshop)
  • I had lots of firsts: Bike tours in the area, pumpkin carving, making sushi… (my 11-year old niece gets me into all kinds of things)
  • Spent one week as a foster mum for my nieces and nephews. So much fun and so much junk food.
  • Attended a workshop on Sketch Notes and now attend a church group for three months on hand lettering. I love being creative. 
  • I decided to join the church called “Hamburg Projekt” who is very innovative and culturally aware. This is certainly a milestone for me.
  • Made some progress in my PhD studies and now have monthly calls with my professor Johannes Reimer.
  • Spent loads of hours mentoring younger leaders, people in crisis and started another mentoring group for event organisers.
  • A friend dreamt in January that I will write a book and felt God telling her to encourage me. Ideas sit in my drawers for the past 3 years but I did not feel ready. In November, a friend from a publishing house contacted me to say, I should write a book and got one of his staff members to have a chat with me in December. It went well and the decision will be taken in February 2021. So hang in there with me! 🙂

As I took time to read through the notes from my “thankful jar” and studied my 2020 calendar, I can only praise God for his undertaking, his care and love as well as his guidance. But also for the incredible opportunities and open doors which I could have never foreseen nor planned myself.

One of the sentences I heard this year from Victor Frankl really struck me: “Instead of simply surviving a crisis we need to ask, `what does the crisis ask of me´?”. And yes, 2020 has been a journey with ups and downs but also being able to see what this crisis asks of me and how I was able to answer, step in and step up – by God´s grace.