Lyndon Bowring

How prayer tore down a wall

Lyndon Bowring, Executive Chairman of CARE, comments on the causes close to the heart of the Christian community

Do you remember the fall of the Berlin Wall? We have a framed fragment of grey concrete brought back by Rob Parsons from the rubble left after this happened in November 1989.

This year is the 30th anniversary of the event.

For 28 years the Berlin Wall separated East from West; tearing apart families, friends and neighbours, and denying freedom to millions. The Soviet Union seemed invincible, threatening nuclear destruction, oppressing the innocent and persecuting Christians.

Something I never believed would take place in my lifetime happened − in no small part due to widespread peaceful, prayerful vigils.

Pastor Christian Fuehrer of Leipzig’s 800-year-old Nikolai Church had begun Monday prayer vigils which grew, until a month before the wall fell 8,000 people crammed into citycentre churches with 70,000 more outside; carrying candles symbolising non-violence.

One witness wrote, “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 looked like a river of peace and light.” The authorities didn’t know what to do. “We had everything planned. We were ready for anything − except candles and prayers,” one official said.

Current day segment of the Berlin Wall

A few days before the Berlin Wall tumbled down 320,000 attended the vigil.

Once liberation came, our Christian brothers and sisters appealed to us in the West to ‘come over and help us’ − echoing the first-century ‘Macedonian Call’ for Paul to bring the gospel to Greece (Acts 16).

How could the Church help to rebuild society in these fledgling democracies so damaged by decades of Communist rule? CARE was one of the organisations called upon to equip churches in these former Communist countries to be effective ‘light and salt’.

So, for the past 20 years, we’ve participated in the annual European Leadership Forum; 800 Christians representing 27 networks in 40 countries with the vision of a renewed Church, impacting Europe by preaching the gospel and practical engagement. CARE leads the politics and society seminars on religious freedom, family and life issues, and how to develop effective organisations as well as providing mentoring for young leaders of the future.

There’s still so much to do to challenge the tide of secularism now sweeping through Europe, but I’m encouraged to see God at work and to believe for yet more ‘human impossibilities’ to happen!

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