Monday, November 10, 2014

Nov. 9, 1989: "An Epic Blow To Tyranny"

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By the time I arrived in Berlin in 1990, German youth were sitting on the Berlin Wall chipping it away with small picks and hammers. One of the college students gave me a piece of the Wall, it remains on my desk to this day---as a reminder.

The border separating East and West Berlin was declared "open" on November 9, 1989---thousands of people from the communist East streamed through the Berlin Wall to celebrate freedom and reunite with family and friends.

Over 300,000 people celebrated yesterday at Brandenburg Gate where President Reagan told Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "Tear down this Wall."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the Fall of the Wall "An epic blow to tyranny," while the Berlin Orchestra played Beethoven's 9th Symphony "Ode to Joy."

But in the moment of celebration, Merkel reminded the thousands attending and millions watching around the world of another event that also happened on November 9---November 9, 1938. A moment that must never be forgotten.

Berlin's Mayor Klause Wowereit told the crowd at Brandenburg Gate yesterday, this celebration is "for peace and freedom" as 7,000 lighted balloons were released into the night sky.

Chancellor Merkel said, "It's about reclaiming freedom," calling the events leading up to the collapse of the Wall an "example of the human heart yearning for freedom."

She said the fall of the Wall "has shown us that dreams can come true."

The anniversary of the Wall's fall was marked around the world.

Pope Francis told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square yesterday that they should "try to topple other walls." And that "we need to build bridges, not walls" and that "where there is a wall, there is a closing of the heart."

Merkel said the memory "should inspire people trapped by tyranny everywhere."

She herself, a pastor's daughter, was raised in communist East Berlin, getting her first taste of freedom on November 9, 1989.

She recalls, "It was a victory of freedom over bondage."

But she reminded the audience and the world to also remember another event that happened on November 9----November 9, 1938.

It is known as "Kristallnact," or "Night of Broken Glass."

It was on this night, Nov. 9, 1938, that Nazis carried out attacks on synagogues and Jewish shops across Germany.

Klara Schlink, a teacher of psychology and history and daughter of Professor Wilhelm Schlink,  grew up in Germany. She was well read on biblical teaching---a young educated woman who loved God and loved her country.

While living in a bombed out part of the city following World War II, God began to deal with her heart regarding a calling---a special calling He was placing on her life. Although she had aspirations to marry and have children, she set her personal dreams aside for what she recognized as a special personal calling.

She and 7 other Christian friends who met regularly in a Bible study began to pray for their country---specifically asking God to forgive the acts by the German Nazis against the Jewish people. It was not a popular belief at that time, but a Methodist minister Paul Riedinger gave them guidance in intercessory prayer, and the prayer of repentance.

As their prayer of repentance and intercession strengthened, Karla and her close friend Erika Madauss, along with their 7 friends, founded the protestant evangelical Sisterhood of Mary in 1947.

Karla changed her name and became known world wide as Basilea Schlink.

In 1986, one of the 7 sisters contacted my office, asking if they might appear on our daily television program. My producer scheduled her.

She told the story how as young girls, they were proud of their country, and as Hitler began to rise to power creating the Christian Youth movement, they were drawn into it and became active.

Over time, things began to change. Concerns began to creep into their hearts and minds. There was hesitancy, which began to turn to fear.

On November 9, 1938, Basilea and her friends recalled hearing windows being smashed in synagogues and Jewish shops across the city. Thousands, then millions of Jews were herded into the "ovens" where they were gassed to death simply because they were Jews. And because there was, by then, no restraint on the leadership of Hitler.

Basilea wrote a number of books and booklets over her lifetime. On that day, her friend and sister was telling me about a book that had recently been published (1985) titled, "The Unseen World of Angels and Demons," a strikingly different subject than that found in her books, "My All For Him," "You Will Never Be The Same," and later "Israel, My Chosen People."

Her message that day was that often the political realm is influenced more by demonic influence than by political process.

And that Christians must be involved, yet fully understand that the battle is a spiritual battle.

She reminded me of the words--- "Never Again"--- that are now inscribed over the doors at Auschwitz, where millions of Jews were murdered.

Christians must stand strong on God's Word and His Truth as we assume our civic responsibility in speaking to the culture and participating in the process.

German Chancellor Merkel told millions yesterday that "Night of broken Glass" was the "opening note for the murder of millions."

She said on November 9, "I feel not just joy, but the responsibility that German history burdens us with."

Knowing what we know causes us to reflect on the gravity of our times and the decisions that we, as Americans, are making today and over the next 24 months.

Not only our lives and those of our children and grandchildren hang in the balance of our decisions, but the lives of millions around the world.

Will we speak to the culture or will we be silent?

Ronald Reagan called on the Soviet Union to tear down the Berlin Wall.

He also called on Americans to "build a wall."

He said, "This is the real task before us: to reassert our commitment as a nation to a law higher than our own, to renew our spiritual strength. Only by building a wall of such spiritual resolve can we as a free people, hope to protect our own heritage and make it someday the birth right of all men."

Be Bold. Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Prayerful. Be Free. Be Blessed.