The Sabre of Boldness for 2017 went to the Reverend Dr. Gottfried Martens and his congregation Trinity Lutheran Church in Berlin, Germany, for their steadfastness in the face of possible deportations, beatings, and threats of death for conversion to Christianity as over a thousand members of the congregation have come from Persia and other Muslim lands to the joy of knowing and being baptized into Christ.
Pastor Martens was a nominee for the second straight year. He had been pastor of St. Mary’s Lutheran
Church in Berlin for many years, a church which has seen hundreds of refugees
come in, Muslims seeking the truth and finding it under his preaching and
catechesis, being baptized and brought into his congregation. His success among
the immigrants has put his name in the German news, and so has put him
personally at risk, due to the violence that so easily attaches itself to the
Muslim extremists who do not take kindly to losing nearly a thousand converts
has recently become pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Berlin-Steglitz, which
is almost entirely comprised of immigrants who have converted to the Lutheran
faith. But the German governmenthas recently begun to deny en masse the refugee claims of many of these
converts, following what Dr. Martens is calling deeply flawed refugee hearings.
The problem, Dr. Martens says, is that “Many [of those hearing the cases] are
manifestly clueless about the situation of Christians in Iran and Afghanistan,
and worse yet they are utterly clueless concerning questions relating to the
Christian faith. But all of this does not prevent them from assuming the role
of self-appointed experts, whose questions ‘unmask’ the supposedly deceitful
Iranian asylum applicants one after another, even when those hearing the cases
don’t even know the difference between the [Apostle’s] Creed, and the Our
Father [Lord’s Prayer].” The challenges come after a year of other difficulties,
as converts to Christianity have faced increasing persecution from Muslim
refugees angry at their conversions from Islam. Congregational members and
candidates for baptism are being attacked, sometimes beaten and threatened them
with death, both in Germany and from their homeland to which deportation is
threatened The refugees are instructed in the Christian faith prior to
baptism—or excluded, if a genuine conversion is not evident. Currently baptisms
sit at between 30 and 40 a month.
What the editors have chosen decided for this year is to offer the Sabre of Boldness for 2017 to Rev. Dr. Martens
and his congregation, Trinity in Berlin-Steglitz.
Rev. Wilhelm Torgeson, a close acquaintance of Dr. Martens and an adjunct professor at the Lutheran seminary in St. Catharines, Ontario, was on hand to receive the award on their behalf.