Breaching of the Berlin Wall

Pennireef Papers

Breaching of the Berlin Wall

Brandenburg Tor 1959

Has it been 20 years since the Berlin Wall came down? Wow, time flies for sure! Harriett and I lived in Berlin 10 years before the ugly wall was built. The picture [on the left] of the famous Brandenburg Tor (Gate) was taken in 1959. You could walk or drive freely between East and West Berlin. We lived in the suburb of Stieglitz and worked in the refugee camps during the day and conducted evangelistic meetings in a huge tent at night. Our interpreter was Hildegard, who later came to the US to study at BJU. You can read the full story in “Going Through… Even if the Door is Closed” (page 34 – 36 and 78 – 81).

Work began on the Berlin Wall early in the morning of August 13, 1961. I have a tape recording of the sound of jack-hammers drilling holes in the concrete to sink the poles on which to stretch the barbed wire to begin the awful division of the capital city.

Within days concrete blocks were in place. The Wall grew in length and height over the following years. The picture below right was taken in 1963 when the wall was slowly being built into the monstrosity it would eventually become famous for.

Brandenburg Tor 1963

In the end the wall was over 100 miles long and 15 or more feet high, topped in places with electrified barbed wire. There were 289 concrete observation posts and machine-gun towers. Many hundreds died trying to escape this communist hell. Yet 191,559 succeeded in slipping through from East to West Berlin. 38,515 emerged by tunnels. Others were hidden inside vehicles crossing from East to West and even by improvised hot-air balloons. In the 28-year existence of the Berlin Wall, 2,768 East German soldiers and officers (including a Colonel) escaped to the West. This prompted Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to muse, “The Berlin Wall stands as concrete proof that when people have a choice, they choose to be free.”

Now that wall is breached. Today “a piece of the Berlin Wall” serves only as a desktop paper weight or a conversation topic on someone’s book shelf. We were in Eastern Europe during the turbulent days of 1989 as the fires of freedom were ignited in the hearts of people in one country after another from Poland in the north to Bulgaria in the south. The euphoria was contagious. Communism was rejected. Liberty was embraced. There was joy everywhere in the former Soviet satellites – which had been the focus of our missionary ministry since 1961.

Jeff Fountain, YWAM missionary in Europe, notes: “Secular observers often have ignored the role played by the Christian faith of many who dared to oppose communist oppression.” This is true. We found it relatively easy to win communist individuals to Christ. They “officially” professed not to believe in God, but in their hearts there was doubt about this position and atheism was not the answer. When confronted with the truth of the Gospel, plus the living testimony of Christians (sometimes in prisons) and convicted by the Holy Spirit of their sin they opened their hearts, confessed and repented of their sins and received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

It’s much more difficult to win a Muslim to Christ. They do not assimilate, they dominate. they already have a ‘religion” and are determined to force it down our throats. they tell us plainly, “We love death more than you love life”. We must pray and help them to discover that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the LIFE. Only then will their Wall of unbelief come down and they will know His peace and joy.

Bill Bathman, 12 Nov. 2009 – Mesa, Arizona

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