We were on our way to Sweden to minister and stopped in Germany on the way to see some Martin Luther sights and do some filming.
We arrived in Eisenach, Germany very late at night. After getting off the train and traipsing up the street with our luggage, kid, surfboard—I kept asking myself what am I doing with a surfboard in Eisenach, Germany—and backpacks in tow, a foreboding feeling was setting in.
It looked completely empty and there were no cars on the street, nor people around, nothing. We found a bus station but the buses had stopped running quite a while ago.
There were no taxis around either so we looked at one of those crude maps you find at the bus stop and realized that the place we had booked to stay was about 10 miles away. There was nothing around so we started walking in the direction of where the place was, thinking, “At least we’ll get there sometime while it is still night hopefully. However, when we started heading to the place, the sidewalk quickly disappeared and we found ourselves on a two-lane highway with no shoulder. “This is not going to work.” We turned around and headed back to the area we had been by the bus stop.
I went into a gas station convenience store and was trying to look at a map in the place and see if there was a different way to go or if there was a phone to call a taxi or something. The gas station dude wasn’t very cool though and kept shooing me out of the store, saying in broken English: “Outside! You can’t be here.” I kept trying to ask about using the phone to call a cab or something but the dude just kept shooing me out.
Forced outside, sitting on the sidewalk with our luggage in the middle of the night in a foreign little German town, wasn’t the nicest feeling; we were praying and wondering what to do. A city transport bus pulled into the gas station and was filling up with gas, and we began to try and talk with the bus driver; Mercedes, using some broken German left over from high school German classes, asked about cabs to the hostel where we were staying. He gave a concerned look and said in very broken English, “I sorry, but too late, no taxis now.” Just wonderful! The train had dropped us off in Tinytown, Germany, without buses or metros or even a cab to get to our destination in the middle of the night. The European transportation system, as great as it is, still has its dysfunctional moments like anywhere else.
The bus driver kept saying, “I very sorry,” and then looked around. “I have idea.” “You wait.” He left for a minute with the bus and we said, “Well, we’ll never see him again,” but a few minutes later he pulled back up in the bus. He tried to explain what he went to do, but it was unintelligible, anyways he was back and we were stoked.
He pulled up to us and opened the door and told us “Schnell!” (“Hurry” in German.) He then jumped out the door and started throwing our luggage in the undercarriage hold quite quickly. When he picked up the board he gave me a quizzical look and said, “Sorry, nicht here, ocean very far away.” “Yeah, yeah I know.” I’ve gotten used to the weird stares and remarks lugging this crazy thing around, it did come in handy earlier in the trip though, and lo and behold I did get some surf up on a tiny piece of German coast by Denmark.
Our new German buddy started driving up the same road we had tried to walk up earlier, and it was quite clear the further he went up the road that there was no way we would have been able to walk the ten miles. The road was really narrow and had no shoulder in most places; it would have been a suicide death march. Through broken German and English, Mercedes and he dialogued as best they could and found out there were no other routes to where we were staying.
Somewhere in the middle of the drive it dawned on us what a huge miracle this was. This guy was using a city bus after hours and going hugely out of his way to drive us to our hostel. We were blown away that this guy was going so far out of his way for us and with a city bus. We began to thank him for what he was doing with plenty of dankeschon’s. We offered to pay for the trip but he said, “No, Danke Gott!” Just thank God eh! Well, praise God! If you know anything about Germany, someone going out of their way like this after hours on a city bus and changing plans and schedules is completely unusual, it is the ultra-structured society. But the Lord supplied someone with faith, flexibility, and a little guts to help us in our time of need. Like the good Samaritan he was willing to go out of his way and interrupt his own schedule and do something a little crazy in order to help us who were stranded.
Sometimes when we go out of our way we may not realize we are fulfilling prayers and performing a miracle for someone.
We were able to have an awesome time in Eisenach afterwards, seeing the Luther sights such as the Wartburg Castle where Luther translated the New Testament, and doing some filming there like the video we just put up (The Priesthood of all Believers) However, we’ll always remember even more the way God sent a guy driving a big German city bus to pick us up in the middle of the night when we were stranded and give us door-to-door service to where we needed to go.
Check out our video on the Priesthood of all Believers shot on location in Eisenach, Germany.
Check out this audio program on Luther’s Conversion, an important and comprehensive program on understanding grace and Christ’s payment for sin.