Business correspondent, evangelist for children, journalist, TV producer, scriptwriter, speaker at women's breakfast meetings and counselling seminars - all in one person?
Interview was published in the magazine "Entscheidung" No. 231 (03/2002), www.entscheidung.de
Gertraud L. Mayer is able to manage all this! A small, slender dark-haired Swabian. Since 1977 she has been living in Berlin. But still her adopted home is Jerusalem. She cannot count any more how often she was there. How many times she will go there again? "As long as I will live." She smiles. She is known from her biblical cassettes and CDs for children, ilike "Father Abraham has many children" and "If I were a butterfly", later on for the TV series "Lichtblick" and the "Biblical Stories and Hits for kids. What background is necessary to be so successful? She did not even found an association, just a small company in which she does not even get a salary. A career without noise. A few years ago someone gave her the money to start a foundation which is called Joy TV Stiftung gGmbH. This foundation can support her airing costs and also production costs - but again no income for herself. She lives in faith and Georg Miller from England is her example that the Lord can care for us.
M: I come from Weinstadt, I was born in Stuttgart and I first went to England after my secondary school level I certificate in order to study English. Then I worked in a company as a business correspondent. Originally I wanted to become a translator because I love to travel. Business correspondent was only planned as first step to this target. But I had taken the decision for a life with God and I knew that He had a special plan for my life.
Editor: How old were you when you took this decision?
M: I was 15. My mother invited me to meeting. I did not know what it meant to believe in God. There I understood it for the first time. First of all I began to read the bible on my own. But during my education I understood that God had a calling on my life to serve him. So I continued to work in order to finance my studies. During this time I learnt many things about the economy that I could use later in my ministry for God. I worked in companies in the department for overseas, European Economic Community (EEC) and the inland. In a very short time God gave me a training that helped me for my whole life.
Editor: You have a great love for Israel? Where does it come from?
M: My ancestors are Jewish from father and mother side. Therefore I always had love for the Jewish people in my heart. Although nobody had told me, I asked for forgiveness for what the German people has done to the Jewish people although I was a young woman. During my training I spent my holidays in a kibbutz in Israel and worked there.
Editor: What did you do after your theological formation?
M: I went to serve the religious community. In the Starkenburger Gemeinschaftsverband I helped to start Bible clubs for children in 11 villages and small towns. I visited people at home, I was a youth group leader and I was occupied from morning to evening.for young people we started two tearooms to speak with young people who did not jet believe. On Sundays I preached sometimes up to three times. During this time, I received the bible verses: "Do not say I am too young but go on preaching". With the children's groups we organised large events to also reach their none believing parents. Many families were touched through these events. Altogether, I was nine years in this practical service for religious communities, hereof three years in Hessen, Germany. Then I came to Berlin.
Editor: As long as I know you, I always see you together with children.
M: I had a very clear calling from God to reach children that had not heard much about God. And so I began in Berlin.
Editor: How did you get the contacts?
M: I worked together with teachers that were ready to co-operate in audio productions with their school classes. We rehearsed the songs with their classes and then we went to the studio and made the audio recording.
This is how the cassettes came into existence that were sold many thousands of times. Thereby many children gave their life to the Lord. In the meantime I produced 20 audio and song cassettes and also CDs and several hundred TV productions. The series “Lichtblick” that was mainly produced in Israel consists of commentaries to the news and reports of holocaust survivors.I also produced Biblical stories for children in German and English. The 140 English Bible Stories and Hits for Kids were produced in Israel and go chronologically through the Bible from the Creation until the book of Daniel and the life of Jesus.
120 programmes of this broadcasting can be downloaded under: www.joytvchannel.com
M: Of course many musicians and other experts helped me. Through these cassettes a door was opened for big events for children in town halls – children who have not heard about God. It is not uncommon that we had meetings with 1000 or 2000 children for television productions. Many years this was possible through the cheque booklet for children but unfortunately, it does not exist any more. But for 10 years it was a great offer. The newspaper Berliner Morgen-Post from Axel Springer Ass. developed this idea. Hundred thousand children from Berlin received this cheque booklet. It contained amongst other things a coupon that gave entry to the television production of the Bible storie and Hit-Production So I could reach children that had not heard a lot about God. Editor: Do you write the scripts on your own?
M: A specialist trained me how to do it. But I learnt also through the work how to write an audio drama with direct stage direction where sounds are faded in. I began with small groups of people, then I continued in the audio sector and actually I produce in the TV section. I work together with cameramen from large television companies, with their experts. In the big productions we had up to 30 experts in the team I had to pay. During the preparation of the TV-productions and during the events I could experience many miracles of God. I thank God for this. These secular teams enjoy a lot working with me. They are highly-payed people, but again and again one of them says: „I work for you free of charge”.But the companies I had to pay and it was per day about 17.000 dollars. It was a miracle that the money came in – I did not ask fore support -but the Lord spoke to people even to give me all what was in their saving account. I praise the Lord for His help.
Editor: Beside the children’s work you also manage counselling seminars for women.
M: In these seminars I speak about inner healing, healing of from rejection. Ways to become freee from depression, how to overcome negative thoughts, etc. Living in reconciled relationships I really thank God that he touched so many women through these seminars and that they can enjoy their lives again.
Editor: When did you start the TV work, and which kind of programs did you produce?
M: In 1985, I started with this work in Berlin. Since several years I have four programs and three series per week. The series for children – called childrens – HITPARADE – AND BIBLE STORIES FOR CHILDREN AND ADULTS: An advise program – and the program called Lichtblick – spotlight. These program is produced in Israel. It was and is aired on the Spreekanal Berlin. Euro news splitted the air time with local producers for many years – now the shopping channel – Juwello -Tv owns the rest time in the channel. The airtime in Berlin is at the moment – Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. for children and 9 p.m. For Lichtblick and also Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. Programs from Israel.As before mentioned we also produced 140 TV programs in Israel – called Bible stories and Hits for kids giving older children a basis in His word. We where so happy that Leasea broadcasting network aired the programs for many years into the Israeli cable net and also overhalf the world over FETV. They have a wonderful team and a studio in Cyprus where they broadcast their programs over satellite.
Editor: How do you get prepared for these tasks?
M: In my prayer: Every morning, I take a lot of time for reading the bible and for prayer. During this time of silence I ask God to help me with the organization, because I am a very spontaneous person. I write down everything that I receive in this time and I keep to it. Then I do the office work. I am so thankful that the lord gave me a very scilt editor with whom I worked many years. His name is Andreas. And he often worked day and night to edit the Bible stories. May the Lord bless him in a great way for all the work he has done for His kingdom.
Editor: How do you finance these large productions?
M: When we have theses large TV productions with over thousand children, I do not only have an enormous preparation but also a heavy financial burden. I often cried, because I did not know where to take the money from. When I asked believers, they usually answered: “Then stop it”. When I went outside on the street, where I live in Berlin, after such conversations, then people spoke to me and told me: “We live from your programs – please do not stop them!” I praise the Lord, that he did so many financial miracles to support the Production costs.
The money I receive in seminars as an offering goes also nearly to 100% to my television work. I have a very modest life. I receive nearly all my clothing as a gift. My food is very modest. From time to time I receive a larger amount of money from people, where God put it on the heart. Also miracles happen. I write down accurately every amount that I receive. It is very important for me that I am correct towards the finance office.
Editor: You have another special mandate – the reconciliation between Germany and Israel?
M: Yes, every week I produce two to three programs about Israel and I also film them there. I specially interview Jewish people that who believe and share their life-testimoney At the same time I try to give a clear and fair picture about the situation in Israel in news-commentary programs.
I also made an interview with the „Children“ that participated at the famous children transport to England during the Nazi regime. Today, they are between 80 and 90 years old and still they call themselves “Children”. Then I asked these survivors for forgiveness for what my forefathers did to them. And I said: “I will ask God Father that he may heal their hearts from these painful memories.” And I felt that God’s power came out from me and I felt that love and healing came; Then these “Children” came and took me in their arms and said: “Girl, you did not even live at that time, but you have so much love in your we accept it from you.”
Editor: Are you not afraid of travelling in this time.
M: I avoid areas that are conflict areas –like the Gaza Strip, The police also tells the tourists which streets they shall use and which to avoid. I always think that people that believe in the God of Israel should visit Israel in order to comfort His people. I also work together with a travel agency to have 1 or 2 groups from Germany and Austria to tour the land.
Editor: Where do you meet your interview partners?
M: Most of the time I go to Israel without preparation. I have such a lot to do in Berlin that I cannot make a plan for the time there. But when I am in the country, I immediately meet my friends and contact persons and ask them: “What is important, now?” The other things get arranged then.
Editor: What is the most difficult thing in your work?
M: That I have many people that love and encourage me but that also many people criticise me. Because I do not have a large organisation behind me, they don’t understand my calling to live in faith. But I am very happy because the Lord healed my heart so I am not any more dependent on peoples opinions and just want to obey the Lord.
Editor: But there were always extraordinary women that went their way alone through the world.
M: I feel His love so strong, that I am never lonely. And the Lord always gives me people and families where I have contacts and friendships. Also he provides always the people with whom I can work with. My new project is a book about my life. I will be soon published. The titel is “Angels on the way” - subtitle – Soli deo gloria – and Baruch Ha shem. It will come out in the German language and hopefully later also in English and Hebrew.I can say with my whole heart - there is nothing better for me than to work for Him. He is my life! Hallelujah.
Irmhild Bärend spoke with Gertraud Mayer. Actualized in Jan. 2013
Published in the magazine „Entscheidung“ Nr.231 (03/2002 more info under www.entscheidung.org
(Revised in 2010)