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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

A Place to Call Home

By Alethea Horning
Nov. 9, 2014

July 2012 marked a big turning point in my family’s life: We moved to Stuttgart, Germany, for three years. My husband is active-duty Air Force, and frequent moves are part of the job, with each one a new adventure full of uncertainties and excitement.

However, moving overseas was not quite like any other move before, and moving to a country whose people did not speak English as their first language was intimidating.

At the top of our Germany to-do list was finding a church. Going to church is a very important part of our lives. While we still had our church family back in the States, we needed a church locally as well. We wanted an English-speaking church, but finding that off the military installation is hard.

Many German churches offer headphones to use during their service, which translate to English, but that was not appealing.

We wanted to find a place we could talk with other people in English and build relationships with them, and our two daughters wanted to participate and make friends in a children’s program.

During the first few months of living in Germany, we checked out three different churches — two on post at our military installation and one off post. While each one offered something good, none of them was a good fit for our family.

Four months after we moved to Germany, we found our spiritual home at Stuttgart Military Community Church (SMCC). It was a brand-new congregation, with the goal of reaching out to military families. It was a perfect fit for our girls and us!

Our pastor, Matt Leighty, and his wife, Stacey, had left their life in Texas to follow God’s call to Germany. If anyone could relate to what military families go through with moving overseas, it was these two. Learning a new language and a new culture was part of their lives as well!

We soon found out why having a local church family is important. One of the biggest fears people have when moving overseas is that something bad will happen to their loved ones back home. Most families living overseas will not experience a loved one’s death in the two to four years they are away.

But just seven months after we moved to Germany, I got the dreaded call: My brother back home had unexpectedly died. Two days later, we were on a plane to the U.S. In those excruciatingly tough two days, our amazing church family came together to support us, not only with endless prayers for our family but with funds as well to help with the expensive flights to the States and back.

Attending SMCC has changed my whole family and helped in our spiritual growth, especially during the difficult time of grieving over the loss of my brother. Pastor Matt knows the importance of preaching what the Bible says, even if it can make people uncomfortable.

Due to an open and honest pastor, we have been more motivated to read our Bible and learn more. Gone are the days of figuring out problems for ourselves and stressing about issues we cannot control. Now we bring our questions, worries and fears to God for guidance and help.

Living overseas can be lonely. It is comforting to know our church friends have the same feelings we do, that Pastor Matt and Stacey miss their families as much as we miss ours, and that all of us together miss the “small” things like American shopping stores or our favorite American restaurants.

Having a church family locally is what makes our good times even better and makes the tough times easier to handle!

ALETHEA HORNING is the wife of a United States Air Force master sergeant and the mother of two young girls. She attends Stuttgart Military Community Church, founded and pastored by Assemblies of God world missionaries Matt and Stacey Leighty.


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