Cross Points 12.18.20

Discipleship Afoot:  Walking in Berlin

Our trip with Open Door Libraries to Berlin, Germany in 2019 offered me interesting thoughts as we walked the streets of this famous city.  Odd thoughts, some of them.  Did Adolf Hitler walk down this street that I’m on?  How did he see the beauty of the large park near the Reichstag and west of the Brandenburg Gate with people of all types walking the sidewalks, and then put in motion plans to exterminate those who didn’t fit his thoughts of superiority?  Later, what did people think as they stood at Checkpoint Charlie and knew family was on the other side, but they had no way to get to them?

In fact, the minister of the church we attended on our Sunday in Berlin explained that he was one of those people.  His family originated in the eastern part of the city, his father moved them because of a job change to the western part of Berlin, and then shortly after the wall was erected and they lost the ability to see family on the other side except for certain holidays like Christmas, when rare passes were given to travel into East Berlin for a day or two.  That lasted almost 30 years.

Most of our time was spent in “west” Berlin, that’s where our hotel was located, where the Open Door Library is located.  But one day Larry and Teri Lewis (directors of the library) suggested we go to Alexanderplatz on the east side, where there was an Octoberfest going on.  While there we noticed the old “soviet” apartments nearby, much like those we experienced when in Ukraine several years before.  Bland, small 2-3 room apartments in grey buildings, no color, no artistic flair, purposely done this was to save on money and so that everyone had the same.  An illustration of how socialism works in the real world.  Forced equality means most live very modest lives, only the elite have much.

One of the most interesting experiences while in Berlin was travel within the city.  Berlin is very spread out, with a complex system of mass transit that includes busses, above ground trams, and below ground subways.  To get from one place to another you often had to take at least two of these, making a transfer at some point.  While we were there, we had rain on a couple of days.  You’d walk with an umbrella to the bus stop, study the map to determine which bus and where it took you, catch it, stand shoulder to shoulder on a crowded bus while watching for your stop.  Then once at your stop you get your group off the bus and walk a block to go underground and calculate which subway you needed.  The day we went to Alexanderplatz we stayed until after dark, caught an above ground tram going the wrong way, got off and re-boarded another; then we had to catch a subway and weren’t sure of our stop, coming up into the dark night with rain, and then walked the wrong way.  We prayed, studied the map, realized our mistake, then discovered we were only about 3 blocks from our hotel.  Thankful!
Isn’t the Christian life like that sometimes?  The Bible is our map, but we either disregard it or get confused by it, head the wrong direction, take up with the wrong people, allow emotions rather than reason to guide us, and must stop and pray for God to help us get back on track.  Just like it takes time to slow down, study a map, get your bearings, and go the right direction, so it is with the Christian life.  One lesson we learned in Berlin is that you can easily get lost, even with good intentions, and you must be intentional in order to regain your direction and arrive at your intended destination.
Cross Point: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).    
Kaiser Wilhelm Church in Berlin, bombed out during WW2, left as a memorial
Open Door Library
Rick & Rexanne working in the Open Door Library
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
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