I find it fascinating how readily we consign extraordinary answers to prayer as ‘coincidence’. Actually I find it frustrating and infuriating.
Anyway, let’s talk about the Berlin Wall.
This imposing Wall was built in 1961 by the German Democratic Republic (GDR). It cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany, and included East Berlin. The barrier included tall guard towers placed along large concrete walls, and was accompanied by a wide area (later known as the ‘death strip’) that contained anti-vehicle trenches, beds of nails and other defences. The Eastern Bloc portrayed the Wall as protecting its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the ‘will of the people’ from building a socialist state in East Germany. Needless to say, it’s main work was to imprison East Germans who wished to escape to West Germany. Virtually overnight, families and close friends found themselves cut off from loved ones under a brutal regime. It is surprising that only one hundred and forty people were killed trying to escape across the wall, although the regime of terror that it marked was undeniable.
But this imposing mass of concrete was not taken apart, as one might expect, by bombs and canons, but by prayer.
It all started in the early 1980s, when an East German pastor started a small Monday night prayer meeting at St Nicholas Church in Leipzig, and the group started to pray for peace in their brutally oppressed country. Over the following years, this church became the main focus for about 70,000 people of all kinds to meet, Christians and non-Christians alike, to pray and to protest peacefully – to hope.
On 9 November 1989 the East German government stated that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Suddenly, crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the Wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a spirit of delighted celebration. Over the next few weeks, euphoric people chipped away parts of the Wall with small hammers and anything else that came to hand. The Brandenburg Gate, a few meters from the Berlin Wall, was opened on the 22nd of December 1989. The demolition of the Wall officially began on the 13th June 1990 and was completed in 1994. At last the way was paved for the reunification of Germany.
A Christian friend of mine who was serving as a senior communications officer in the British military at the time tells me that he was told in the mid to late 1980s that Christian prophets were being told by God that the Berlin Wall was about to fall. He tells me that he dismissed the story with a degree of scorn, because he knew what military intelligence was indicating to be the case at the time.
God makes fools of us all – in the best, most wonderful way. PENNY LYON