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Very, very good article. I served in northeastern Germany, in the Berlin mission. The people in my mission were even more shell-shocked than the people Br. Chandler discusses in his 1960s mission to northwestern Germany. My people had experienced Hitler and forty years behind the Iron Curtain. The Hitler episode had eroded or destroyed any belief that God could care about his children; the communist episode had eradicated a belief in God altogether. I learned to love these people and understand their position. A side benefit of it was the increased gratitude and love for those stalwart members who embraced the Gospel despite these obstacles. Some of my favorite members were the senior citizens in those East German wards. Many of them experience WWII and then participated in a forced exodus in the freezing winter and early spring when the Russian army drove all ethnic Germans out of what was then the eastern German province of East Prussia (now Lithuania and Poland). They traveled more than 1000 miles on foot pushing "handcarts" or carrying their belongings with no food in the snow, leaving their dead children and siblings along the wayside as they fled to the heart of Germany. Those who fled to Germany's far western cities were lucky. Those who stopped in what was then Germany's central cities (i.e. cities now on the Polish border and Berlin) were not so lucky, as they got to experience mass rape at the hands of the Red Army and then isolation behind the Iron Curtain. It was a true testimony to me that some of the older people in the wards had experienced all that and still believed in God and that God loved them. Some of the old men, in addition to all this, had also served in the German army on the Eastern Front and had endured six or more years in Siberian slave labor in Russian POW camps after the war. To not lose faith after such an experience is almost unimaginable to me. Yet they remained firm in the faith. Br. Luedtke of East Berlin, for one, actually converted after the war, despite having experienced six years of Siberian slave labor. That is truly a miracle conversion.

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