“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28-King James Version.)
In October 1984 I began my medical studies at the Hannover Medical School. Before moving to Hannover, I spent two years in the then West Berlin as an Asylum seeker from Ghana. During my stay there I worshipped at the American Lutheran Church in Berlin. It was during the cold war. Germany was divided as a result of World War II. Several American soldiers were stationed in West Berlin. The American Lutheran Church was not part of the military establishment but rather served the English speaking American civilian community as well as other English-speaking residents of the divided city from various parts of the globe.
After I had matriculated with the medical school of the northern German city, I applied for a room in one of the three hostels serving students registered with that institution of higher learning. Because there was no vacancy at that time, my name was placed on the waiting list. With the help of Pastor Kawalla, then the superintendent pastor of the German Lutheran Church for the Hannover-North district, I found temporary accommodation in a hostel serving mostly students of a Theological Seminary not far from the medical school. I learnt on moving to my new accommodation that not very far from the building was another facility that served as refuge for delinquent teenagers who could no longer live with their parents.
To facilitate my movement and also save the money I would otherwise have spent on going by public transport, I bought a new bicycle. My silver-coloured bike eventually became my good companion, enabling me to reach the lecture hall on time, helping me transport my shopping basket home and also taking me to the church where I worshipped, which happened to be located some five kilometres from the hostel.
Like anyone else living in the hostel, I chained my bike every evening to a special stand that had been erected near the building for that purpose.
Barely three months after acquiring the bike, I left my room one morning to collect my bike for a ride to the medical school, not suspecting anything. I had as usual calculated my time so as to be punctual for lectures, but to my utter dismay, my faithful companion was nowhere to be seen! In my desperation I went about searching the compound around the building in the hope that perhaps someone had deposited it somewhere after using it for a riding tour. Apparently someone among the delinquent teenagers had visited the stand during the night and made away with my good-looking bike.
At that time I belonged to a Bible study and prayer group led by Pastor Kawalla. One of the members of the group, on learning about my situation, presented me with a replacement. It was an old worn-out bike that could not in any way compare with the stolen one. Nevertheless, the fact that I had the means that could at least still make me independent of public transport was consoling enough to me.
A few days later, I rode it to church. With the help of a metal chain I fastened it to a lamppost on the street a few metres from the church building. After a lively church service I headed for the old bike to pick it up for my ride home. What did I realise? That one, too, was nowhere to be seen! I just couldn’t believe my eyes! How on earth would anyone want to steal anything like an old bike like that!
So two lost bikes within a period less than two weeks! Somehow, I was tempted to be angry with God. In particular, the fact that I had lost the second bike while attending church was difficult for me to swallow.
But I was not someone who was new to the Faith. Over a period of about sixteen years to that day, I had experienced the working of the Great Redeemer in my life. Over that period of time He had turned several seemingly dead-end situations in my life around, in some instances in ways that had beaten my ordinary human understanding.
So, once the shock of my loss had abated and I stood there before the lamppost where I had fastened my bike a few hours earlier, I could only wonder what He had in store for me this time round.
But what was I to do? Although the city of Hannover boasts of a well functioning public transport service, commuter trains, streetcars, buses, etc, for reasons already mentioned, I preferred going by bike. My meagre financial resources would not permit me to buy a brand new bike again. Even if I had the funds, the events of the last several days had led me to a situation where I did not want to invest a substantial amount of money for that purpose.
In the end, acquiring another second-hand bike on the flea market was the alternative I wanted to consider. Before I resorted to that, however, an idea occurred to me to call Gary, the pastor of the American Church in Berlin, to inform him of my predicament and request him to make an announcement in church the following Sunday to the effect that if, possibly, there was a member of the church who was ready to dispose of an old bike, perhaps wasting away in the cellar or backyard of his or her home…
Gary promised to do as requested.
A few days later I received a message from Berlin to the effect that one of the members of the church was willing to present me with a bike! Another member of the church who happened to be travelling to Hannover, a city located about three hundred kilometres to the west of Berlin, agreed to bring it along.
The sight of the gift from Berlin has humbled me to this day.
I was not being presented with an ordinary bike, but the type that in my opinion deserves the accolade ‘extraordinary’! It was a never used and elegant bright red coloured six-gear sports-bike! It may well have been worth three times the value of my first stolen bike. That anyone would be willing to give it for free was beyond my comprehension.
The couple that donated it served with the US Military in Berlin. They had brought the bike with them to Germany, thinking they would need it. That was, however, not the case. Their time in Berlin was just about to come to an end and they had been deliberating on how to dispose of it before their return home. They did not hesitate a moment after hearing the announcement to donate it to a person they had heard many good things about. I must say, though, that up to that time, they did not belong to the group of church members to whom I had close contact with. For the next several days (and even up till now) the mysterious workings of the Lord that led me to the amazing bike has continued to baffle me and occupy my mind.
Over the next several years my bright red sports bike carried me over several hundred kilometres as I went about my daily life in the northern German city that boasted about half a million residents.
Whenever I ponder over the events that led me to the bike, the passage of scripture that comes to my mind is:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28 (King James Version)
True, the Christian may sometimes go through circumstances in life that might lead that person to wonder how in the midst of that particular state of affairs all things could work together for his/her good. How could Joseph, for example, discern at the time when he was thrown into the pit, when he was sold to Egypt, yes indeed when he was cast into prison for standing by principle and not giving into temptation to commit adultery with the wife of his master, that all things would indeed work together for his good?
To you, dear child of God who might seem to be in a no-way-out or no-win situation, I say this: since we are serving the Lord who knows the beginning from the end, and the end from the beginning, my prayer is that you will draw inspiration from my humble experience, which, though it may seem banal in comparison with the mountains of problems before you, will help you to draw inspiration and wait for the mysterious hand of the Lord to draw you to safety.
Indeed, my experience from following the Lord has left me in no doubt that all things work together for good for those that love God, to them that are called to his purpose, if not in this life, then at the latest when we shall see Him face to face.
Copyright Robert Peprah-Gyamfi, 2020. All rights reserved