Berlin Wall fell as young people prayed - by Markus Laegel - 25 Mar 2005

"Military vehicles, armed soldiers and police as far as the eye can see. You can even spot them on the roofs of the houses. Are they snipers? It's been reported

Markus Lagel
that churches are to be used as emergency field hospitals. Has there been an order to fire?"
 
Markus Laegel, who heads up 24-7Germany, has written a chapter in a new book about his experiences of the power of prayer growing up in Leipzig on the day the Berlin Wall came down. He continues describing the scene...

"It's Monday evening. The 8 o'clock News. I'm sitting, my eyes glued to the
 
"For 10 hours, uniformed men beat the defence-less people, who did not retaliate."
television. Dad's out there, right at this moment. I don't know where to look first at the old black & white or out onto the street. He should have been back ages ago. But he isn't. What if it's the same as yesterday, or the day before the 40th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic (name for East Germany under  Communist rule) when the demonstrations reached their initial climax?

Later, Rev. Christian Führer, describing that one particular Saturday, said: "For ten hours, uniformed men beat the defenceless people, who did not retaliate, and took them away in lorries. Hundreds of them were herded into stables in Markkleeberg.“
 
What if it's all happening again? What if my Dad's in the middle of it, in prison, even? Just like we watched yesterday on TV.
 
Dad did come home that Monday evening. It was very late, but he was okay. They had only got out of the city by using side roads and diversions. Twice they were stopped by police. Next Monday, though, he'd be back in Leipzig again and I'd be there with him. This time I hadnt been allowed as I was still only 13, but it was my birthday in three days. Then I’d be 14. I could go along and I would go along. 
 
 

What I experienced then was the most extraordinary thing my young eyes had ever seen. This I have never forgotten...
 
Thousands of people gather. They’re here to pray. They’re praying for peace. The prayer is set to start at 6pm. The idea is to use the Nikolai church, but that’s already full and it’s still only 4 o’clock. We go down to the church of St. Thomas. That’s full too, but we manage to find a space. Mum, Dad and me. We’re a family. Not just us, but everyone. Everyone in EVERY church at that moment. The people sit and stand wherever there’s room. The pews were filled long ago.
The people pray simple but honest prayers. Many of them probably don’t even believe in God, but who else can help them?
 
As the final hymn "Dona nobis pacem" – "Give us peace, Lord!“ is sung, I experience the same miracle that also happened the week before.
 
Rev. Führer writes again:
"... when more than 2000 of us came out of the church – I will never forget the sight – tens of thousands more were waiting outside in the square. They were holding candles. When you hold a candle you need both hands. You have to guard the flame, stop it from being blown out.
 
You can’t hold a stone or a club at the same time. And then the miracle occurred. The SPIRIT OF JESUS, a Spirit of non-violence, took hold of the masses and what resulted was material, peaceful violence. The army, fighting patrols and police were drawn in, started conversations and retreated.”
 
Thousands of people with candles. People who’ve never met before, suddenly a family. They lay their candles at the feet of the armed soldiers and police. The steps of the STASI building – the organisation that spied on, abused and sold people out – now awash with candles. It looks like a river of peace and light.
 
On that Monday it was as if I heard God inside of me whisper – even though it was only a whisper I was startled – "In the same way as this unjust system has fallen, so every other unjust system will fall.“
 
This word from God, this "unbelieveable experience of the power of non-violence," this unrestrainable power of prayer, left me at that moment completely overcome.
 
 
It has a hold on me to this very day. That experience is the reason I’m doing this 24-7 prayer thing. I want to see God’s justice triumph so that “my” generation can be free. I don’t want to put up with people still living under oppression. So many have merely swapped communism for consumerism. Free they’re certainly not.
 
As early as 10 years previously – since 1979 – people had started praying in the Nikolai church in Leipzig. Every Monday. They prayed for peace and justice. For 10 long years they endured suffering and defamation. In October 1989 there were tens of thousands of them.
 
Sindermann, one of the leaders of the old GDR regime, said before his death: "We had planned everything. We were prepared for any eventuality. Any except for candles and prayers.“
  • "He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble."
  • "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD.“
That goes for 2005 just as it did for 1989.
 
P.S: The only thing I wanted for my 14th birthday was a great big tin of pineapple, all to myself. All 18 East-German-Marks of it. It was very hard to get. Four weeks after my birthday the wall fell and I could eat as much pineapple as I wanted. Even the real stuff.
 
 
Markus Laegel, who leads 24-7 in Germany,wrote this eyewitness account of the peace prayer movement under the Communist regime in East Germany for a book called "When Teenagers Pray". The book is only available in Germany at present- so if you live there look out for it!
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