How prayer took down the Wall

Tonight’s speaker was Christian Führer, the pastor of the Nikolai Kirche in Leipzig, who has been instrumental in the prayer and peaceful resistance movement that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. I must say I hung on this guy’s lips from beginning to end.
In the beginning of the eighties the Nikolai Kirche opened her doors for ‘alternative’ young people who had formed protest groups for disarmament. “I suddenly realised,” says Christian, “that if we would open our doors for these types, the communists would no longer be able to say that the church was just a museum, a place for old ladies waiting to die. The church could again become a grassroots counter movement.”
In 1982 the Nikolai Kirche started weekly prayer meetings, that went on unbroken for seven years, until the Wall fell. When discouragement kicked in, they reminded each other of Jesus’ words that when two or three gather, He is in their midst. “We realised that if we would stop praying, there would be no hope for change in Germany.”

A few years later Christian started a group for people who wanted to leave the ‘socialist paradise’. He put a sign in front of the church building saying ‘this church is open for everyone’. “Soon we became the best guarded place in the whole GDR because we took ordinary people seriously, and offered them hope.”
When in 1988 a group of protesters got arrested in Berlin, the Nikolai Kirche started daily prayer meetings for their release. Hundreds of people joined in, many of them non-Christians. The sermon on the mount was central to these prayer gatherings, that quickly drew over 2,000 people. This made the government nervous and they sent hundreds of undercover agents to the prayer meetings. “This was just great,” says Christian. “The government sent its employees to church, and they were now forced to listen to Jesus’ teachings. So I started the meeting with a ‘warm welcome to the unofficial representants of the state’. Everyone laughed, except the secret police guys. The people turned their heads and could immediately spot the cops. This broke the tension.”
By October 1989 over 60.000 people had gathered in and around the church. It was the largest demonstration ever held in the GDR. Everyone had brought candles. “The Lord reminded me of this Scripture that says that ‘it’s not by might, and not by power, but by His Spirit’. The only successful revolution in Germany was a non-violent one.
 Later the police stated that they were prepared for everything, but not for prayer and candles.”
Another example that history is in the hands of the intercessors. The full text of Christian’s is available in German.

There is some more information in English here:

Praying for Hitler

Bethel, near Bielefeld in Germany, is a small town consisting almost exclusively of hospitals.  It was founded by Pastor Friedrich von Bodelschwingh.                           

For more than one hundred years, destitute and sick people have found an ever open door, and a warm welcome in this oasis. The von Bodelschwingh family is still the guardian of this large institution. Towards the end of the war Hitler gave orders to confiscate Bethel and turn it over to the military, which needed more beds for the war casualties. The sick and helpless people, mostly epileptics and mentally ill, were to be sent to “camps” for treatment, meaning gas chambers.


       When von Bodelschwingh received the order, he informed his dedicated staff. Countless prayers, desperate pleas for help, were spoken on bent knees. There was no answer. The officials began to make the necessary preparations for an “orderly” transfer.

Pastor von Bodelschwingh was well known throughout Germany and in Berlin. He went from one government official to another, begging for the lives of his “children”. He found some sympathetic ears, but nobody was willing to risk his life, by going to Hitler and pleading on his behalf.

       Pastor von Bodelschwingh returned to Bethel, and the preparations for the transfer continued. The end was near.

Two Gestapo Generals arrived, demanding the keys. Von Bodelschwingh suggested that they tour the hospitals, because they had come to facilitate the evacuation. They agreed to accompany him. When they entered the children’s hospital, frightened eyes were focused on the two well fed men in their black uniforms. For a moment, there was absolute silence. Now the children looked at their Pastor, they called him “Onkel Fritz”.

“Children”, he said “this is Uncle General, he has been sent to us by Uncle Hitler to take care of us. We must pray to Jesus and ask him to BLESS Uncle General and Uncle Hitler. ”

            The children talked to their Jesus.

 The Nazis left and never returned.                                                                                                                                           Today, Bethel is home to fourteen-thousand patients.   
from www.onlychangeisconstant.com



Only Change is Constant

This site contains “A firsthand account of one German man’s experience living through World War II.”


my favorite haiku

night rain
I snuggle deeper
into the sound

                    Jean Rasey

pond frog


You may have heard the Sufi story about an Ocean-Frog who comes to visit a pond-frog, whose pond is three feet by four feet by two feet deep. The pond-frog is very eager and proud to show off the dimensions of his habitat, which in the story signify the limits of mind and desire. He dives down two feet to the bottom and comes up and asks, “Did you ever see water this deep? What is it like where you live?” The Ocean-Frog (from the Ocean of Ilm, the Divine Wisdom, which has no boundaries) cannot explain to the pond-frog what his Ocean home is Like, but he says, “One day I’ll take you there, and you can swim in it.”




“And With the earth my heart is glad
I move as one of old
With mists of silver I am clad
And bright with burning gold.”

A.E. (George Russell)

quoted in A Handmade Life by W.M.S. Coperthwaite

Little by little wean yourself.
This is the gist of what I have to say.
From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood,
move to an infant drinking milk,
to a child on solid food,
to a searcher after wisdom,
to a hunter of more invisible game.


water of life

 “It is a patient pursuit to bring water from the depth of the ground; one has to deal with much mud in digging before one reaches the water of life.”


                             Hazrat Inayat Khan


fathomless mystery

“Listen to your life.  See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”

                                   Frederick Buechner

Kind people

When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.

                             Abraham Joshua Heschel