The piece of concrete in front of me, smudged with paint of different colors, is nothing valuable at all! One might wonder, why I keep it in a prominent place in my house. It is because it represents something very special to me.
I am talking about a piece of the Berlin Wall that I chiseled off that infamous structure of separation in my home country of Germany in the summer of 1990. Less than a year ago the 29-mile long wall of wire and concrete, which had been erected in 1961 by socialist East German authorities to halt the exodus of refugees to the West still seemed to stand strong. But by November 1989 the wall had been breached and millions of people watched on the news how flag-waving, joyful Easterners jumped the wall and entered into the western part of Berlin without being shot at by the ever watchful and merciless Volkspolizei. To this day watching these scenes makes me choke up with tears!
Not long ago even the most conservative politicians had wanted to strike a provision out of West Germany’s constitution that strongly called for a reunified Germany, because there didn’t seem to be any hope left for it ever to occur. What brought about a change like this? I realize there probably is no single right answer to this question. Certainly, growing disillusionment with the “blessings” of socialism, the breaking up of the stronghold of communism further east in the Soviet Union, Poland and Hungary and the overwhelming desire for true freedom played an important role. Yet, I believe one of the most important reasons why this radical change occurred without a bloodbath is a spiritual one!
Since 1983, Pastor Christian Führer had held the Friedensgebete or “Prayers for Peace” every Monday at the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig. First here, later throughout East Germany, groups met under the roof of the church as the one safe haven where they could voice criticism of the regime and seek a way to change it. Of course, soon the nervous regime infiltrated the meetings at the churches. October 9, 1989, Pastor Führer was warned, that if he continued to hold the Friedensgebete he would provoke civil war. Yet as history proves, an attitude of non-violence prevailed even while the demonstrators saw the light glinting off the weapons and looked at the shields, helmets and armored vehicles of a powerful police force. No shot was fired and the forces of peaceful change had won.
Over the following four weeks the streets would swell with more demonstrators. The socialist leaders would have to acknowledge that they had lost control and realized, that in a moral, political and spiritual earthquake, communism and the entire Eastern bloc was brought tumbling down.
Remarkably, in this un-Christian country the spirit of Jesus, the spirit of peace had descended on the masses and brought about peaceful, positive change.
Why am I telling you about this? I trust, that these events will both remind you that history is first and foremost HIS-story, God actively working in the affairs of mankind, and that it will instill you and me with new faith and fervor to pray and work toward the breakdown of walls of separation and racism which are so dominant in our society and sad to say often even inside the church’s walls. Last but not least, as this event shows, it is first and foremost the power of God, marshaled by unified prayer, not gun-power, that brings about lasting change!
Here’s a song that encourages us on our way:
Let the walls fall down, Let the walls fall down, By His love let the walls fall down! One by one we’re drawn together, One by one to Jesus’ side; One in Him we’ll live forever; Strangers He has reconciled. In His love no walls between us, In His love a common ground; Kneeling at the Cross of Jesus, All our pride comes tumbling down. Fall, all fall down!
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Philippians 4:6-7 (The Message)
© 2009 Volkhard Graf, YWAM Native Ministries
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