Marching for Jesus where Hitler once stood

Marching for Jesus where Hitler once stood! Here’s a first-hand account from Entrust’s Rob and Sandy Shaffer in Vienna, Austria.

2016 06 28 -  Wien March

An estimated 18,000 people gathered at Heldenplatz in the heart of Vienna June 18, 2016, in the very place Hitler announced Germany’s annexation of Austria in 1938. This time the crowds were gathered to lift up Jesus as savior and Lord, as myriads of banners proclaimed, “Jesus forgives,” “Jesus loves you,” “Jesus is the only ticket to heaven,” “Jesus gives peace and hope.”

The marchers included young and old, babies in strollers and carriers, people of every nation and color, Christians from many denominations, united in their desire to proclaim Jesus in this city, whose population today has become a melting pot of nationalities. Marching bands and groups of singers led us in song as we worshiped and walked the entire circle of the Ringstrasse surrounding Vienna’s Old City. The weather was perfect, warm with a light breeze; the mood was jubilant. We were encouraged as we encountered people we know from many other churches in Vienna, and to see the thousands of people from all over Austria who claim Jesus as savior.

The march concluded with a worship service at Heldenplatz (Heroes Plaza), where thousands sang songs of praise to our God, and many curious onlookers heard about Christ. Looking around at the crowd, we felt this was a taste of heaven, when all nations will lift their voices in praise to our God and savior.

Marching for Jesus where Hitler once stood

For 14 days in March

For 14 days in March, billboards across Vienna, Austria, quietly but boldly urged people to “be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)” Focusing on just the words in white, the message was simply, “Know God.” The billboards explained this is a life motto for Maria Toriser-Wallisch, one she recommends to others. How did this happen, in a town not known for outspoken Christians or megachurches?

2016 04 19 - billboard

Maria won a contest in 2015 sponsored by Gewista, a large Austrian outdoor advertising firm. Maria won the privilege of putting a message on 170 billboards for two weeks, free advertising worth more than $56,000.

Natasha, a Christian who’d invited Maria to a Bible study, encouraged Maria in her faith and had become her friend, suggested using a Bible verse. Maria agreed. But which verse? “I thought a long time,” Maria says. The verse had to be short enough to fit the billboard. “Natasha supported me, helped me and reminded me, ‘This is your campaign. God knows to whom he gave it. He will show you what to say.’”

Maria bumped into another friend from a Bible study, Lilie, another young mom sold out for Christ. She shared her thoughts about the billboards with Lilie, who suggested three verses, one of which was Psalm 46:10. Maria and the Gewista company chose that verse.

Maria opted to use English for her billboard, because, she says, most people in Vienna can understand the words in English, and she felt the same words in German would sound somehow offensive, whereas they are more palatable in English.

Reaction to the message was positive. People who know Maria and are not Christians asked her, “Is that really you on the billboard?” People who do not know her but are Christians made a point to get in touch with her to say, “That is the best message ever. Thank you.”

It was a bold gesture, connecting one’s name with a Bible passage in such a public way. Maria was glad to do it. She’s been strengthened in her faith by Natasha and Lilie, who have been strengthened in their faith by Entrust’s Sandy Shaffer. One generation investing in another. This time, with hugely public results.

Read more on Gewista’s website: http://www.gewista.com/…/…/BE+STILL++KNOW+THAT+I+AM+GOD.aspx

For 14 days in March

AUSTRIA: an Entrust travelogue

Austria is in some ways the birthplace of Entrust. Our first staff members lived here, quietly traveling into neighboring communist countries to equip church leaders with solid biblical understanding and ministry skills.

Melk, AustriaCAPITAL: Vienna

FAMOUS PEOPLE: Sigmund Freud, Heddy Lamarr, Wolfgang Mozart, Wolfgang Puck, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria von Trapp, Ludwig von Beethoven, Christoph Walz

Continue reading “AUSTRIA: an Entrust travelogue”

AUSTRIA: an Entrust travelogue