INSPIRE is a Fresh Expressions ministry of the Germany Conference and has been up and running on the Brühl in Chemnitz for over two 61 years. It has been an amazing adventure, with loads of experimenting, and new doors of opportunities to serve continually being opened to us. Below are some of the regular happenings at INSPIRE:
Bring & Share Brunch
On the first Sunday morning of the month we have a special neighborhood brunch. The INSPIRE team makes tea and coffee and provides some basics like bread, butter, honey, etc. Everyone from the community is invited to attend and bring something to share. All the food offerings are placed on a large community table, and we all sit down and have brunch together. There is always enough to eat for everyone—even for those who could not contribute. The Bring & Share Brunch is a great way to get to know your neighbors and build community.
On Monday evenings INSPIRE changes into a singer/songwriter music bar. It started with a small group of musicians jamming together but has developed and grown into one of the top music venues in the city. At the start, we had mostly young newcomers from the region. We have also hosted inspiring musicians and artists from the UK, US, Australia, and Canada. The space is often packed with guests … on a Monday night! (Just think about that for a moment!)
Two years ago, when more than a million refugees arrived in Germany, we started a “One World” welcome cafe for refugees who had arrived in the city. We served coffee and cake and helped them to learn German. We recently added a weekly homework club for the children, helping them to adapt to German school life. This is a vital ministry, investing in young lives, hopefully enabling a better future for them.
This is a joint venture with the Bethanien Diakonissenstiftung, a foundation of the United Methodist Church in Germany. In the backyard of INSPIRE we have a former circus wagon. Keren Cascione, a social worker employed by Bethanien and supported by a team of volunteers, runs a children’s program every afternoon. This is another 62 significant ministry that impacts the lives of children, many of whom face huge challenges in life.
Whisky & Wine Tastings
Our whisky and wine tasting events are an INSPIRE classic; tickets for these events often sell out! These evenings are not only an opportunity to learn the finer details about wines and whiskeys of the world from experts, but the event is also a great foundation for conversation, building relationships, and deepening friendships. Some of our most faithful INSPIRE coworkers came to us initially through our “tasting” events!
International Student Group (ISG)
We believe God opens doors for us to serve people and make the world a better place. The ISG is the latest example of this. Jay, a musician in a punk band that performed at INSPIRE, is a teacher in his day job. He saw INSPIRE as the perfect location for a “language pub” for foreign students to practice speaking German. We agreed. And so we started with twenty of Jay’s students from Syria, China, United Arab Emirates, and other countries. With the help of small question cards, we discuss topics like “Five things I need to be happy.” We have learned from the Syrian participants to always appreciate family. One of them summed it up like this, “What I really only need, is my mother …,” sharing with us that each day he Skypes with her in Damascus.
A Closing Note about INSPIRE
Some of our church friends reading this may be wondering: Where the “spiritual” activities in INSPIRE happen. When do we preach? Is there no worship? The cheeky answer might be, “Yes. All the time!” We are very clear at INSPIRE about who we are and what we are about. We are a community of faith, hope, and love. Our vision is to see our Brühl neighborhood “inspired,” with new life breathed into it (yes, even in a holistic sense). Our core team are all practicing Christians, but we also have many good friends and coworkers supporting our project who are of no faith or of different faiths. We all want to make this world a better place. This makes us very happy! Our INSPIRE team meets every Thursday morning at 7:15 am to pray for and bless the neighborhood. As a team we also meet once a month in our homes to read the Bible and reflect on what it means for us to be followers of Christ today. Anyone is free to join us during these times. At Easter and Christmas we have special teaching initiatives and events at INSPIRE that delve deeper into the Christian faith. As a team we strive, in spite of our human failings and weaknesses, to live out our faith, showing our friends and neighbors what it means to be a Christian today. We take it as a compliment that we are known affectionately on the Brühl as “The Christians.” We are no longer surprised by the regular interest and questions that people often have for us, concerning our Christian faith.