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Influence

25 Jan

Familie Müller Dez. 2007

Heinz and Ruth Müller were household names in my family. We even named a Siamese cat Heinz, after our beloved German friend. If I am not mistaken, I think that my youngest sisters middle name is Ruth. More than that, this German family was used by God has had a Christian influence on my life. Heinz and Ruth Müller are pictured to the left, front row, first and third from the left respectively.

Heinz served as the pastor of the church that our family attended while we were stationed in Augsburg, Germany. More than once I heard dad say, “I fell in love with Jesus while in Germany. I learned to love Jesus from Heinz because he was the first person I had met who acted and spoke as though Jesus was present with him at all times.”

Following nearly 15 years of active military duty, and due in great part to Heinz’s influence, my father spent 30 years serving the Lord in ministry. He served as both a minister and elder during that time. How did Heinz have such influence? The first thing Heinz did was to walk the talk. He was authentic (before being authentic was cool). He also invited my father to participate in the ministry of the church. Heinz would occasionally invite dad to lead a Bible study or to teach a Bible lesson. This simple act of placing faith in my father enough to trust him to teach, according to my mother, had an enormous impact on dad.

Look again at the picture: The man seated on the front row and far right is one of their sons, Klaus. He also learned the heart of his father and has served as a missionary in Africa for more than my entire adult life. I remember a time when I was teenager that dad and I visited Klaus at Texas Tech University where he was studying agriculture. He was preparing to move to Africa where he would carry the gospel by teaching people how to grow food under the severe conditions that exist there. Klaus has continued to train people in techniques for obtaining maximum food production from minimum water and land.

That Klaus is passionate about the training he gives is obvious: “Let’s face it, farming is one of the most biblical occupations we have,” Klaus Mueller tells a room full of African Christians at a ministry conference (according to  the Christian Chronicle).

Klaus and Christiane moved to Zambia in 1979.  “He is teaching Zambians to farm, to raise cattle and chickens and to serve the Lord,” said Evertt Huffard, dean of the Harding School of Theology in Memphis, Tenn., who recently taught in Harding University’s Zambia program. Along with growing crops Klaus also teaches pricing and marketing where they learn to feed those in need and maximize their profits. A boost in their income increases their ability to spread the gospel.

“Don’t complain about the market being flooded,” he says. “Kill the competition. Be better competitors.” Sounds very American, or should we say German or perhaps Zambian? The point is, getting grain effectively out into the market place to those who need it most requires great effort, and so does getting the gospel out to those who need it. That is pretty good advice: For now, put into practice what Klaus taught those Zambian farmers. Don’t complain…be better competitors.

Heinz and Ruth joined Klaus and his family in Zambia in 1996 where they continued to have an influence for Christ. According to the Christian Chronicle, “Heinz raised funds to build a primary school” and “in 2011, Mueller and his family added a carpentry workshop to the primary school to teach vocational skills.”

People such as the Müller family have impacted the way I see the world and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for their continued faithfulness to God and obedience to Jesus Christ. The truth is, if my parents could have and the Lord had made a way, they would have returned to Germany to serve alongside Heinz and Ruth. But dad is already with the Lord. I am not sure if Heinz and Ruth are still alive, but I know for sure that they had a positive impact on my family. And I thank God for that.

Look around today and notice the people with whom you have influence. Don’t complain about where you are; rather influence the people who are near you. I would also encourage you to think of someone that you can say thank you to for the good influence they have had in your life.

BTW – I had the opportunity to personally thank Heinz for his influence in my parents’ lives – and in my life as well. After preaching in London in the early 1990’s Beth and I flew to Wiesbaden Germany to visit Richard and Leslie Nesbitt (my sister). While there we were pleasantly surprised to learn that Heinz and Ruth lived in the area. It meant so much to me to be able to say thank you to Heinz. That unexpected opportunity was a special gift from the Lord.

The Müller family reminds me of the verse: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Co 9:22)

If you would like to check out Klaus’ work please check at http://www.goodhopezambia.net

Dan

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