Experiences with God: Gertrud Gerlach

“But I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for you have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble. To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; for God is my defense, my God of mercy.” 

Psalm 59:16-17

When I look back on my life, I must joyfully testify: The Lord was and is gracious to me! Until it pleases the Lord to call me home, I will praise His mercy every morning.

It is true that I have experienced many difficult hours in my long life, including war, hunger, and distress. And yet, I see the hand of God and His plan in my life. His grace has kept and carried me to this day. 

I was born in what is now the Ukraine. As the Second World War was raging, we were displaced to Kazakhstan in 1941. A Russian family in the town of Astrachanka was forced to billet us. It was God’s grace that this family was very considerate and looked after us well. Although I was just a young child during this journey of many weeks, I already experienced God’s protection. Once, the train almost left without me after a stop in the midst of a dense forest. What would have become of me, and how would my parents have felt if someone had not lifted me into the train at the last moment? My whole body shook with terror. 

In 1944 – when I was 11 years old – my mother died. Now my two brothers, two sisters, and I only had a father. My youngest sister was just two and a half years old. For a year and a half, we struggled together, and then my father remarried. Our new mother had lost her own child and husband. Now, it was surely not easy to marry into a family with five children and have to care for them right away. This demonstrates great trust in God. We had only three months to adjust to this new situation, when my father was taken away and sentenced to seven years in prison because of his faith. How difficult this was for all of us. I often saw the tears of my mother and heard her cries to God. But she loved us as her own children and cared for us sacrificially. She was a great example for me. She often went to bed hungry after dividing the last bit of food we had received amongst us children. What would have happened to us if Father had not remarried shortly before? God was so good and cared so well for us. 

Both of my brothers were eventually enlisted in the FSO/work army and had to work in the coal mines. Now there were 4 of us left. We had barely anything to eat, hardly any clothes to wear, and lived in unfamiliar surroundings among strangers. This prompted my mother to take us girls and move about 70 km to Kamenka, where she had lived before she came to us. There, we attended a house church. At the age of 14, I became a Christian and experienced the peace of God filling my heart. Shortly after, I was baptized according to the biblical teaching. I experienced how God pays attention to the prayers of His children, and He hears and answers them.

I worked quite a distance away from home, herding cows and sheep and looking after them. It wasn’t an easy job. On top of that, I was only allowed to go home for one day each month. As a result, I could not attend the services regularly. But even during this time, the Lord was with me, protected me, and helped me to remain true and grounded in the faith. The Holy Spirit led me to fully consecrate myself to Him. Glory, praise, and thanks to God for this experience that allowed me to move forward in His power and strength. It was always very important for me to attend the church services. After work, I rushed to join other young Christian girls as we quickly walked a considerable distance just to be in a church service. Although I cannot go into details, I can assure you: The Lord was good to me!

In later years, I, along with many fellow believers, experienced the joy of worshiping openly in a church building rather than having to gather in homes. 

We moved to Germany in 1990 and found our new spiritual home in the Church of God in Pforzheim. In 2011 my husband passed away, but I am not alone. I am thankful that the Lord is always with me.  Every day, I experience His presence. Every day, I can tell Him everything, and He gives me the strength and courage I need. 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my deepest wish is to remain faithful until my journey is over. During my life, the Lord has taught me that His Word is true: He is a stronghold, a refuge in times of distress, and He is mighty. We won’t allow anything to separate us from Him. Let’s keep the faith so we can all be together in heaven, praising His grace for all eternity. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Gertrud Gerlach 

Pforzheim, Germany

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