Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Walls that divide, Walls that unite: personal lessons from the trip to Poland
(Picture: message on the remains of the Berlin Wall, East Gallery)
On 20th April, Easter Monday, I left Romania again for an exciting new trip. Last time I wrote my impressions about Armenia and Georgia. This is my last destination from that trip: Warsaw!
In the early morning, together with our friends from the Christian Democratic Movement of Georgia (CDM), I boarded the flight to Warsaw where I was to take part in the meeting organized by the "East European Bureau for Christian Democratic parties" from the former Soviet countries. This is an agreement between the Christian Democratic parties of Armenia, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Georgia, Moldovia and Ukraine. The founders of the Christian Democratic party of Russia were observers. This meeting was organized within the conference of the European People's Party.
At the airport in Vienna where we had to change planes, I saw Gevorg who just arrived from Yerevan. Unfortunately he had to wait for another plane while our Georgian friends and I already boarded.
When I arrived at the hotel, I was so tired that I slept almost immediately. I had a wonderful time in Armenia and Georgia, but the great number of events and impressions had tired me. When Gevorg arrived we discussed the East European meeting and in the evening he met our Ukrainian friends and helped them with building up their stand.
The dividing walls
It was already early evening and I decided to walk a bit through the city. I was always impressed by the Jewish uprising in the ghetto in the Second World war and in a small guidebook I saw an address where a part of the old wall of the ghetto was left. It was starting to get dark. At the address I found a kind of inner court but it was locked. However there was no sign of a memorial or something that would commemorate this important event. A man living in that block came out of the inner court and I asked him about the memorial; he just pointed to the place in an offhand manner. Then I saw it: a part of the wall with an inscription next to a small office, the memorial center.Next day I went back to the center and asked, surprised, why there is no sign with a small bell outside so that people know about this important place. The Jewish guy from the memorial said sadly that the Polish people don't want to be confronted with the past and he did not get approval to put a sign there. Now both the wall and the center are hidden between blocks in an innercourt. How many things do we actually want to hide from others, I am wondering?
Another thing that was impressive was the Polish uprising in the Second World War. The people tried to liberate themselves from the German occupation and to defend themselves. However, the Russians did nothing to help them and the consequence was that 90% of the city was destroyed. Later the country suffered under a communist regime until it was the first country to initiate democratic reforms which led to the fall of another wall: the Berlin wall that divided East and West and was a symbol of repression.
The Message at the congress
The meeting with the Christian Democratic parties of the former Soviet Union was great: new collaborative projects were begun, doors opened and walls of distrust fell down. Communism fell because of the Christian faith and values, said the Polish delegation during the EPP congress: this was the most important message, much more important than all the speeches given by a whole range of Prime Ministers and presidents of the European Commission or the European Parliament.
The basis of Christian Democracy took away the walls between the Western European countries which resulted in the present European Union. The Christian faith broke down the walls of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe! Also all these important leaders of Europe agreed that "European values" should be respected. It is only sad that no-one actually mentioned what these values are! And in the three hours of speeches I discovered the word 'Christian' only three times. The Gospel is breaking down the walls that divide people: there is no difference for God, everyone can live in heaven ....without walls that divide people and without ghettos to separate different ethnicities. As it is written: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28)
People create walls that divide people from their families and limit their freedom in order to control people and rule over them. Nehemiah created a wall but this was based on faith and God’s protection and everyone was working on that wall! This is not the wall that divides people, but the wall that unites people. This is the wall based on the foundation of Jesus, which gives vision, hope, strength and unity. Therefore also the heavenly Jerusalem will have walls as written in Revelation 21:1-21 “The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls.” We read that they are beautiful walls and further on we read: “On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.” This is the wall that unites people of all nations! But it is also a protection against anything impure! It is written that this wall has 12 gates and will never be shut! God’s wall is not a closed wall, but there is access into heaven through Jesus who is the gate.
Walls that protect, no walls that divides
This is how society should be created, how Europe should be built: not with a wall between people, but a wall around us based on our faith that protects us from evil. This should be the message of all the leaders of Europe. Poland suffered a lot to get this message. Let's hope that we are learning these lessons..
Psalm 107:15,16: Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men, for He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron."