I grew up on the Baltic Sea in East Germany under a communist government. The government controlled people’s lives from birth till death. They told you what to think, what to speak, what to do, and what not to do. They told you that Russia was your friend and America was your enemy, and they told you that there was no God. There was no freedom of belief. They took your possessions, your lands, your animals, and your business away from you. They closed up the borders and killed everyone who wanted to escape their oppressive rulership.
The government had set up a complete system for child education from a very young age on:
Most of the time both parents had to work in order to make a living. This was no problem because “Father State” took care of their children.
I became one of the educators for little children from 5 months till 3 years. I thought it was a good thing to love the children. When I was 19 years old, I moved to Berlin and there I got my first group of children. I had 20 children at 1 year old — all by myself.
I worked from 6 am till 6 pm for 390 DM/month1 Money was not so important to me, but I loved the children. They became like my own children. I taught them how to walk, to speak, to eat, how to sing, to play games. I was there when they got sick and had a fever. I cared for them as if they were mine.
It was not just babysitting, but we also had a daily plan of what we needed to teach them. It was under the close control of the state. Nothing was allowed to be taught that was not approved by the state. The children had to sing songs to honor the socialist government. The system and our lives were presented through “rose-colored glasses.” People were afraid to speak what was in their heart. It could cause lots of trouble, so it was normal for people to overlook these things.
I gave myself to caring for “my” children. Sometimes I even took them home for the weekend, because they were crying at home, calling for me.
When they were 3 years old, they went to the next education level — Kindergarten. I had to give them up! This was so hard both for me and the children. I got sick with a high fever (40°C) and just cried until I felt dead inside. I needed a few weeks until I could look at children again. I went twice in my life through this torture before I quit my job. I had come to the point where I had to ask myself, “What am I doing here? These children are not orphans. They all have parents, but where are they?”
I understood that they were not my children, but whose children were they? They went from one education level to the next, all under the control of the state, not the parents! Something was wrong.
My life was also wrong. I was not able to have lasting relationships, but I didn’t understand why. I didn’t see at that time how strong, proud, and rebellious I was, unwilling to submit to a man that was not perfect. I was lonely and looking for love, security, and protection. There was so much hurt, so much compromise, and so much selfishness and sin that it piled up to heaven.
Then it happened. I got pregnant. I was so happy, although I knew that I was going to have to raise the child by myself. This was not unusual in East Germany, because “Father State” would help support me and my child.
I was never so happy in my life than during the time of my pregnancy. I would have another human being who would belong to me, and I could love and care for it.
Then the day of the birth came and I found myself in a hospital, alone — but soon I would have my baby. After twelve hours of labor, I found myself with complications. The baby was stuck and all my contractions stopped. The doctor got very nervous. He tried three times through a suction to get the baby out, but it didn’t work. Finally he took a special kind of tongs and with pulling, pressing, and pushing the baby came out... but... he didn’t breathe! All the doctors and nurses took care of him. The time was passing, but his arms and legs were hanging limp. He didn’t breathe.
Then I prayed: “God, if you exist, please give me this boy. I don’t want any other child except him. I will take care of him and give him back to You. I can’t give him life, but You can!”
Then I heard a quiet sound coming forth from my boy. He was alive!! I felt heard by God. He gave him life. Who was this God who gave life and heard my prayer? I wanted to find Him.
When I got home from the hospital, I went to church to fulfill my vow to give my son back to God. He got baptized as a baby. How should I raise him up for God? There was no answer to all my questions.
I read the Bible and didn’t understand anything in it. At least I tried to obey the Ten Commandments, but I wasn’t able to do that either. I felt so lost. I looked at my sweet baby boy and asked myself, “How can I give him back to God?”
I was alone and had to work, so before long I had to bring him to the first education level. Oh, no! But there was no way around it.
When he was almost 1 year old, I brought him there, but he would not eat or drink. He would just cry and cry and cry until he got a fever and was sick. This repeated itself several times until a doctor gave me a permission to stay home till my child would turn 3 years old. The government would give me some money during this time, too. I was amazed but very thankful. I turned my heart to him as well as I could, but I knew it was not enough.
I was 30 years old and looked back on my life and all I saw was devastation because of my selfishness. What could I give my son? I had nothing. I felt so lost and alone.
During this time was the call for freedom in our country. Yes, I wanted freedom. I wanted that my son would be able to be free to do what was on his heart. I would fight for it!
Together with many thousands of people we held several demonstrations, asking for more freedom in our lives. Then the miracle happened on November 9, 1989 — the wall of Berlin opened up! I went over to West Berlin on that very night. The whole city was full of joy and thankfulness and kindness. People were laughing and crying for joy.
Was this freedom? Now we could travel and go shopping in the West German supermarkets. We could finally buy ourselves nice cars. Why was I not content? So many other people were also not content. Other things showed up... More and more violence, drugs, prostitution, strife for riches, and greed came on the scene. I desired deep friendships and harmony, security and protection. Where could I find it?
Then somebody gave me a free paper in Berlin, and it spoke about 150 people of different nationalities, races, and backgrounds living a life together in harmony and peace through God. God? Could I find Him there? Is it really possible to live together with people?
I wrote to these people and they invited me to their community in Sus, France. I gave up my job and my apartment, and I took my son and went there to come to know these people. When we arrived, all these people welcomed us with joy and so much warmth. I felt wanted and loved.
Then I saw the children. They were so happy and peaceful. They were by the side of their parents. I just loved what I saw, and I understood that this was the place where I could give my son back to the One who gave him life. I always wanted to remember this, so I gave my son a Hebrew name with the meaning “Possession of Yahweh.” He didn’t belong to me. He belonged to Him.
I heard the many other words of the gospel and I became a part of these wonderful people. I received forgiveness and a new life, and the grace to raise my son up in the way he should go, to become all he was meant to be.
I took on my responsibility to train up my son to obey God and to love and respect people. Our foundation was our faith in the One who can save us from all of our hurtful ways. His name is Yahshua. Now we had a purpose for our lives. We wanted to learn to do the will of God, to love like Him and create places on this planet for many other people to come to know Him through a real life together.
God dwells in His people who express His love. We are not perfect, but we are learning. We are on the Way, together with our children.
Finally I was free to do what was on my heart. I trained my son up by the Word of God and to love others more than himself, to obey and respect authority, and to love the Word of God.
When we came back to Germany as a community of believers, we wanted to express true freedom in this country. We had to face a big giant that works against freedom. It is the educational system of Germany.
There is a law in Germany that everyone has to send their children to school. But there is also a law of freedom of religion. We tried to explain to the government that we can’t send our children to public school, because to raise our children up by faith is the greatest part of our belief.
We invited them to visit us and see our life and our children, but there was no way of communication possible. The law was against us, but we had to obey God rather than man. After receiving many fines, we as parents were called to court. We proclaimed our faith and the judge pointed out the law.
Then the judge said, “The children who are born in Germany belong to the state, and you need to obey the law!” Then I stood up and said, “No, not my son! He doesn’t belong to the state. He belongs to God, the One who gave him life. It was not the state that gave him life, and neither was it me. It was God, the Creator of heaven and earth. One day I will stand before our Creator and He will ask me what I have done with my son. I am responsible and accountable for him, not the teachers in school, and not the state.”
Every parent was judged guilty for breaking the law. The men had to go to jail for a couple of weeks. The women were also supposed to go, but righteous people in our area stood up and said, “Why do they put these people in prison? They have wonderful children. The youth don’t drink alcohol or smoke. They don’t take drugs and they are never involved in criminal charges. These are peaceful people.”
We tried to find a way of peace, and somehow the government found a way to recognize us as a private school. The authorities came and observed our children and they really liked what they saw.
A few years passed by. My son grew up, got married, and now has two children. He continues to raise them in the way our God showed us — the same way he was raised up himself. But then the “giant” woke up again.
What was normal 50 years ago, or even 30 years ago, is a crime in our days. What is this crime? It is discipline. It is love. Now you cannot love your children.
Yes, I disciplined my son because I loved him. Now he disciplines his children because he loves them. It is absolutely normal! It is not complicated. Discipline helps a child to stay in the boundaries of protection. It produces the peaceful fruit of righteousness and communicates to the child that it is loved. It has NOTHING to do with child abuse.
Prune a tree and it will bear much fruit. Discipline a child and he will have life and peace and joy.
Germany took on the communist principle of control. They took away the parental authority that is given by God. This is oppressive. We live in a time when good is called evil and evil is called good.
Is this the freedom we desired when the wall of Berlin fell? Will righteous people still stand up for what is right and speak for what they know in their heart? I hope so!
But as for me and my son, we are free to obey God rather than man.