as published in DECISION MAGAZINE, June issue 2000
the monthly Magazine of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
By Michael Furchert
For the graduation ball my class had decided to dress-up as angels with a devil’s tail. My classmates knew that I would not want to miss this celebration. But they wanted me to compromise my faith – at least for this one day – and to join in the mocking of God. I had been so excited for this celebration ball, but I did not want to be a “wimp” for the Lord.
Once again I needed to make a stand for God. While my class went to the graduation ball, I stood in the garden, cutting the lawn, wiping away the tears from my eyes.
Taking a Stand for Christ
I grew up behind the Berlin Wall in East Germany. My life was deprived of freedom in a country that didn’t acknowledge God. I was seven years old when I realized that I needed to make a stand against the Communist government that taught that there was no God.
When I began attending school, I discovered that every pupil was required to join the Communist Young Pioneers and to submit to that group’s beliefs. I needed to make a decision. Did I want to be one of them? Did I want to have friends, to gain their respect and recognition? Or did I want to go alone against the odds–believing in God who they claimed did not exist?
My father took me aside.”You need to make a decision,” he had said. “We have shown you the way of faith. But we can’t go it for you.” I had understood what he meant. If I would decide for God, my life would become very difficult. It would mean that I would have to take a stand against the governmental system in which I loved, and I would have to be strong enough to face the consequences.
I stood up in school and refused to join the Young Pioneers. I could not give my heart to Communist beliefs because I knew that God exists. I had decided to put my faith in Him, and now I had to stand strong.
I could not take part in the weekly meetings of my class, I was blocked from many events at school, and I did not receive a school uniform. I refused to sing the Communist songs and to count soldiers, guns and tanks in mathematics. My classmates laughed at me and mocked me. I didn’t seem to fit in.
I knew that without dedication to Communism I would not have the chance to attend college or to have a good profession. So long as I would not submit, I would face disadvantages and exclusion. My father and grandfather had already lost their jobs for being confessing Christians.
It would have been easy to hide my faith. Must a little compromise, a little going with the crowd, and I could be one of them—I could have friends, gain respect and recognition. But Jesus said that if I would stand up for Him on earth, He would also stand up for me in heaven (Matthew 10:32).
Jesus had stood up for me when He gave His life on the cross. But He had risen, and He is alive. This thought gave me the strength to march on in faith.
Becoming an “Adult”
I grew older, and the biggest event in the life of a teenager in East Germany approached–the Youth Consecration. On this day every student was solemnly declared an “adult” person deserving respect and recognition. During the celebration, teenagers had to pledge an oath to support Communism.
I had to make a choice again. I wanted to become an “adult” person too, but I would not compromise my faith. When the students went to the celebration hall, I stayed at home. I could not give my life to a system that taught that there was no God just so that I could become an “adult”.
The Youth Consecration was followed by a sightseeing tour for the entire class–except for me, since I had refused to take the oath. because of my faith in God, I remained a child in their eyes. While my class traveled for one week to celebrate their new adult lives, I was put on a construction site to carry heavy stones and to clean up trash.
Relying on Jesus
I had not become an “adult” but no one could stop me from turning 16. I was the oldest in our class, and I would be the first one riding a motorcycle to school. What a chance to gain respect and recognition! But to get a driver’s license, one needed to sign a document of dedication to Communist beliefs.
Again I had to make a choice. I could be “somebody” now, but it would require a compromise. People laughed and pointed fingers at me when I was the last one still riding a bicycle to school, while everybody else had surrendered and received their vehicle license.
I felt hurt, but I had Jesus on my side. He wiped away my tears. When others pushed me away, He welcomed me. When others rejected me, He taught me how precious I am to Him. When the world gave me only hatred, He showed me love.
The Communist government in East Germany has gone. The government has failed, and the Berlin Wall has crashed down. What remains is my faith in God and my gratefulness for having learned to stand up for Jesus Christ–the One who stood up for me.