Leadership Devotional July 2017
Out of the decade of 1935-1945 came many heroes; People who didn’t start out to be heroes. Perhaps some of us have personal heroes from those times.
A man of those times who became a hero to the religious community was Deitrich Boenhoffer, who was a citizen of the country who was our enemy at the time. Boenhoffer was a German Theologian who came of age during the rise of Nazism. He was the youngest in a family of eight children. His family encouraged him to do something other than theology with his life. The rest of his siblings were professional people of social standing.
He stayed the course and studied in New York and London. When he returned to Berlin in 1936 he saw how the country had been transformed into a military state. He spoke out and led groups of dissidents during the years of 1936-39. In 1939 he returned to New York for more study, but was only there for a few months knowing that he could not hide out. He sailed back on the last civilian crossing of the Queen Mary. His influential relatives kept him out of military service. He continued to resist and speak out against the Nazis, which of course was a very dangerous thing to do.
Biographers believe he was an active spy and conspirator in one of the attempts on Hitler’s life. In late 1943 he was arrested and imprisoned, finally being hanged in 1945, only a few weeks before the Nazi surrender in May of 1945.
Few of us will ever find ourselves in the danger for our beliefs that Boenhoffer did. That kind of courage in the face of great personal danger is a very rare commodity. Even as the dangers are much less for us we mostly fail to take a stand for what we know is right. I have been guilty of standing by while racial slurs are being expressed. Many of us can think of times when we failed to be the courageous Christians our faith calls us to be.
There is still a chance for redemption. We need not continue to fail. Boenhoffers’ martyrdom is a reminder to us all that we are called to a high standard. Let us put our game face on and go out into the communities and state that we live, determined to speak out about out Christian faith.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for those who have shown determination and courage to defend our right to worship you wherever our life calls us to be. Help us to recognize, give us courage and peace to step up to our higher calling in your name. We pray for strength and courage to speak of our faith wherever we may be in our life journey. Amen
Shared by Doug Smith, Member of United Methodist Church of Chappell, NE. and contributor to the Nondenominational Men’s Lenten Breakfast Group in Chappell.