Breaking down walls

On 9th November 25 years ago I walked into my living room and turned to my tiny T.V. In the corner of the room. There were people standing on a tall wall with pick axes and sledge hammers. I thought, “that looks like the Berlin Wall, and people are knocking down. It was a truly surreal event. People had been shot in the past for trying to get over from The Eastern side and now people were knocking down. Crazy!

Because my dad had been chair of the Slavic Gospel Association UK and had visited several countries in the Soviet Bloc, I immediately phoned dad we shared the joy. We knew of many Christians who had suffered persecution under the regimes of the Soviet Union and this new freedom seemed a work of God.

Many believed this to be a window of opportunity that must be used before it closed again. They believed that the wall would go up again. Perhaps it is with what’s going on in Ukraine.

I am writing this sitting in the departure lounge of Gatwick Airport going to a conference called “Beyond the Iron Curtain” studying the Churches’ mission in Central and Eastern Europe 25 years after the Berlin Wall was destroyed. What walls still exist between East and West? What walls were unintentionally constructed by well meaning outsiders to Central and Eastern Europe?

My presentation will compare the Latin American mission movement and the mission of the churches of Central and Eastern Europe. We seem to have gone through and are going through similar issues.

The flood of foreign agencies and missionaries that deluged Central and Eastern Europe post 1989 ignoring the experience and suffering that many pastors and other christian leaders had gone through was stunning. Latin America has also “suffered the embrace of Western missions.” And there are other similarities I will mention over the next few days.