I Will Be With You

Part 5: My Experiences at the Mission House in Essen by Salomon Weissburger (1887–1968)

In late November 1907, Heinrich Begemann approached me, asking whether I would like to enter the Lord’s service as a missionary. The mission house in Essen was established by the pastor Georg Vielgut at Friedbergstrasse 13 in October 1907. It became crucial to our work in Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Russia, and the Netherlands), serving as a base for missions trips to these countries in the following years.

Revival meetings were held at this location, initially lasting ten days each; they had a major impact on our work. It was also the center of an intensive literature distribution effort, which I was involved in for three years. We later moved down the road to Friedbergstrasse 21. The mission house was in a rented building, with the meeting room downstairs and 13 living quarters upstairs. Nearly the entire city of Essen was in a mining area, which meant that many buildings, including ours, often needed major repairs. A particular problem was posed by coal mining, which often caused buildings to sink significantly.

My work at the mission house involved helping in the kitchen and laundry and being responsible for cleaning the meeting room. Entertainment was scarce, especially in the beginning, when there was no money to be had; later, we received an allowance of between 15 and 20 German Marks per month. However, I found that there were great spiritual benefits. There was always a pastor present: initially Georg Vielgut, then Karl Arbeiter and his wife, and finally O. H. Doebert and his wife. Devotions were a great blessing and served as a type of Bible school. Since my soul thirsted for the Word of God, I paid no attention to our physical circumstances, instead diving deep into the spiritual wealth on offer.

I enjoyed the great blessing of gaining a thorough knowledge of the Bible through the full teaching of biblical truth, which I still cherish to this day. In addition to doctrine, areas of focus included the full experience of salvation, rebirth, and sanctification. Thanks to the intensive work the brothers and sisters did with us, we built up a solid spiritual foundation. I am still grateful to God and these brothers for that today.

The value of inner unity became especially clear as living together in such tight quarters let everyone see who we really were inside. There were between 10 and 15 of us living in the mission house at any given time, and we all came to acknowledge that we still had much to learn, regardless of how good an impression we made on others in public.

If we play an instrument for ourselves alone, we might think it sounds good, but if we play in an orchestra, it will not sound harmonious unless each instrument is properly tuned. The same applies in our spiritual lives, especially for pastors. We need to be in tune with our Lord, not with human opinions (Romans 15:5–7). Jesus Christ must set the tone for us.

The leading apostles had to stay together in Jerusalem for many years in order to gain a thorough and practical education in the unity of the spirit and of faith. Only then did they set out, now connected inwardly even if separated outwardly. Instead of seeking their own interests, as is unfortunately common, they worked together, not only with each other but also for each other; they worked to fulfil the Great Commission of our Savior, who came to seek and save those who are lost.

I was able to experience this in a practical way at the mission house back then. I am a witness that these were not empty, proud words. We practiced real, applied unity.

From late November 1907 onwards, I was at a mission house in Essen, led by brother Georg Vielgut. In 1908, Karl Arbeiter and his wife came from the United States to relieve Brother Vielgut, who then returned to his family in the United States.

Having known me for years, Karl Arbeiter and his wife were aware of my education and background in business, so they had me keep the books for the mission house and the literature ministry. These tasks were not difficult for me, and I served as the head of the literature ministry until February 1911. One year, demand for our literature was so high that we had to work in pairs to get all this work done. Back then, people still took time to read the Bible and study good books. That yielded great blessings, and sincere seekers were grounded in the truth.

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