By Judy Brandon: Local Columnist
In 1968, a friend I knew during my college days took a summer trip to Europe.
She toured France, Germany, England, Austria, Luxembourg and Spain. She told me her experience in Germany and seeing the Berlin Wall made the greatest impact. Although the Cold War is over, at that time, the Berlin Wall separated the city — communist East Berlin from non-communist West Berlin.
When the bus of college students approached “Checkpoint Charlie,” the military gate going into to East Berlin, they experienced no trouble passing from West Berlin into East Berlin.
East Berlin was different. Armed guards paraded around the area sectioned off by a towering fence topped with razor sharp barbed wire. Clutching rifles, the guards’ eagle eyes and stern faces indicated they meant business.
Once on the east side, there was a transformation even in how East Berliners looked. My friend noticed there had been smiles and much conversation in West Berlin. In contrast, people on the streets of East Berlin were grim and stoic, afraid to even communicate with those they passed.
After three hours, the students returned to the infamous “Checkpoint Charlie” for passage back through to West Berlin. My friend expected the exit back into the West would be just as uneventful as her trip into the east side. But she was in for a scare.
First, the guards ordered the passengers off the bus and to leave their belongings on the bus. They were commanded to back away from the bus and form a single file.
The guards boarded the bus, went through the students’ bags, and looked under all the seats. They carefully inspected underneath the bus with long poles with huge, round mirrors attached to the ends to make sure that no one had attached himself or herself under the bus in an attempt to escape from the communist zone. They inspected the engine, shining flashlights between the parts to see what might be hidden.
After two hours, the college students were allowed to get back on the bus and return to West Berlin and freedom.
The wall between East Berlin and West Berlin was a barrier to freedom that kept people in bondage. With the fall of communism in that part of the world, Berlin is no longer divided.
What’s the spiritual parallel? Think about the barrier or wall of unbelief. Mark chronicles in his gospel Jesus’ visit to Nazareth and the unbelief of the people. They were skeptical of Jesus because he had grown up there. They questioned,” Where did he get such wisdom and the power to work these miracles? Isn’t he the carpenter the son of Mary?” (Mark 6:2-3). Their unbelief was the wall that kept them from accepting Christ as the Messiah. Mark summed up the visit to Nazareth by saying:
“Jesus could not work any miracles there, except to heal a few sick people by placing his hands on them. He was surprised that the people did not have any faith.” (Mark 6:5-6)
Through the years, unbelief has been the greatest barrier between people and the freedom that comes in knowing Jesus.
When the wall of unbelief comes down, then we are truly free.
Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org