The Lord reigns: a note from Germany on the twenty-fifth anniversary...

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(This from our German correspondent) November 9 of this year marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany’s peaceful revolution that united a country which, as a consequence of World War II, had been torn apart by the conflict between the West and the East for over 40 years. The border between East and West Germany, for which the Berlin Wall was a symbol, was one of the deadliest in the world during the cold war. As Germany prepares for its festivities, I want to share two amazing stories.

Since 1731, the Brethren of Herrnhut published a book of daily watchwords every year, which are widely read among Christians around the world. Watchwords are chosen by lot a year in advance from the Old Testament. Here is the Herrnhut watchword for November 9, 1989, picked before anyone had the slightest idea of what would happen on that day...

For by You I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. (Psalm 18:29)

Could there have been any better word of God for the day when thousands of people leaped over the Berlin Wall?

At a recent celebration in commemoration of the events in Berlin, a Jewish man who is now the head of the city’s largest synagogue told the following story: He was living in Leipzig, East Germany in 1989. At the end of September that year he asked God in prayer how long the toil of the East Germans under socialism and the separation of Germany and of Europe with it by a bloody border would continue. The Lord answered him in his prayers saying: 100 years or 40 days if there is a sign of forgiveness in Israel. The man told his Jewish friends about this and he and two others decided to pray for forgiveness for Germany. On Yom Kippur, October 9,1989, he and his companions prayed to God asking Him to forgive the German people the atrocities their families had suffered during the Nazi regime and the war.

October 9 was the tipping point of the revolution in Germany. Leipzig saw the largest demonstration against the socialist regime so far. The city was filled with troops, military and secret police, and the tension was running high. Many expected that the government would give orders to fire at the crowd of demonstrators. In fact, the government had made preparations in advance to detain thousands of protestors to put an end to the uprising. The night ended peacefully. 31 days later and 40 days after the Jewish man’s prayer, the border between East and West Berlin opened peacefully. To this day, we do not fully understand the series of events and decisions in the days leading up to that result.

What shall we say? Historians will praise the courage of the protestors and the readiness of West Germany’s government to grasp the opportunity. That is all fine. But we Christians should thank a Jewish man who believed in the Lord and quietly prayed, and praise the Lord for his goodness in history.

Juergen von Hagen

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!