HE CHURCH OF GOD arrived in Germany in 1936 in the hearts of Herman and Lydia Lauster. It was a dangerous time as political events propelled the world toward war.
Desiring material wealth and enticed by posters advertising the need for farmers, Herman and Lydia had immigrated to the United States from their homeland in Germany 10 years earlier. With toil and struggle, they had successfully made a comfortable life for themselves and their children in Grasonville, Maryland. But along the way they had encountered Jesus Christ and learned to follow His voice-even when that voice led them along paths they had not planned to travel.
As the Lausters prayed at home one evening, Lydia prophesied, “You shall carry My name into all the world.” The words were repeated to Herman in a vision the following evening. Believing missions to be the will of God, Herman made a brief visit to Colombia, South America.
The Lausters not only learned to hear the Lord’s voice but also to commit their all to Him. When one of their heifers suffered a broken horn and was bleeding to death, Lydia prayed that if God would spare the cow, it would be given to the Lord. That cow was later sold and the money used to build the Church of God in Grasonville.
In 1936 Brother Lauster heard the Lord tell him to return to Germany, and the Church of God agreed to send him with a salary of $45 a month. To his surprise, he found many Germans, including relatives, were under the influence of the Nazi Party. Despite the Gestapo’s forbidding him to preach, he began to hold home meetings.
Two miracles confirmed the hand of the Lord as the Lausters worked to establish the church. Herman’s brother-in-law, Hans Klement, supported Nazism and opposed the Pentecostal message. But when Hans became so ill that the doctors could do nothing for him, Herman prayed and Hans was healed. Now full of fervor himself, Brother Klement became a church leader. When Mrs. Otto Sonder heard of Brother Klement’s healing, she opened her home for prayer meetings, requested prayer for herself, and was healed.
These activities did not go unnoticed by the Gestapo, however. Brother Lauster was routinely questioned by the secret police, worship services were interrupted, worshipers were threatened, and mail was censored. Then on August 22, 1938, Herman Lauster was arrested and imprisoned. Prisoners were starved, brutalized and made to toil under horrible conditions.
Imprisoned for preaching the gospel, Brother Lauster’s work and character gave him favor in the eyes of the prison staff. The Church of God declared a day of prayer and fasting, and Brother Lauster was released from Welzheim Prison on March 16, 1939-11 days after the churchwide day of prayer and fasting. Despite his experience and the ongoing danger, Herman Lauster continued to follow the voice of his Lord and preach the good news of Jesus Christ.
David G. Roebuck is director of the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center in Cleveland, Tennessee.