THE POLITICAL PAGE

March 2004

 

 

What is wrong with Germany?

 

I do not have a reputation for painting things black or for dark prophesies; instead I am called by many, “an incorrigible optimist”.  It is “typically Ortwin” when I fly high on hope.

This is why it was surprising to me, that one morning, the Lord led me to feel restless about Germany, followed by questioning the status of the “army of prayer warriors” and finally to question myself.

 

Information

 

The condition of our republic at the moment is pitiable. It is like a large room in which all the lights have gone out and everyone is running and talking in different directions, but without the impression that real help is being given.

 

Confusion in Germany

All eyes are on the government. Chancellor Schröder is trying to give a sense of calm while at the same time, presenting himself as the motor for innovation.

In March 2003, he laid out his reform plans in the Agenda 2010.  However, his party feels his reforms betray the social-democratic principles.  Only by threatening to leave was the Chancellor able to bring the party in line; the party has forced him to resign as Chairman through mass withdrawals.

One cabinet minister after the other has changed from promising to problematic: Hans Eichel as Financial Minister; Ulla Schmidt as Minister for Health;  Manfred Stolpe caused an endless toll debacle.; Otto Schily made headlines with the resettlement of the Secret Service to Berlin and stumbled over the NPD-ban.  The Chancellor cannot allow himself a change of cabinet at the moment, however, because since he was forced to give up the Chair,  he feels too weak in his own position. He is insecure. He could be swept away.

Recently, a newspaper wrote that the days of the Schröder government are numbered.  There are 14 elections at communal and state levels this year – and all of them showing a tendency for bitter losses for the SPD.

It appears, though, that the opposition does not wish a collapse of the Schröder government at this time.  This would mean new elections.  But, in spite of high polls, the question is completely open as to who, in case of new elections,  should lead the election campaign as CDU/CSU Chancellor candidate: Stoiber – Merkel – Koch – Merz - ?

In addition, the position of the two sister-parties, CDU and CSU, are far apart on issues such as tax reforms, etc. And in the background is the constant question: who will succeed, that is the question of power, the Chancellor issue.

Through all of this, one thing must be clear to everyone: in spite of everything, based on its party history, an SPD led government must make more allowances for social hardship in its reforms than a CDU led government. Whether Hartz-Reform (SPD) or Herzog-Reform (CDU), the proposals are not so very different from each other; that means no new elections can avoid hard cutbacks.

 

Confusion in Germany

also in the search for a successor to German President Rau.  This election is always a matter of party politics; but there has never been such haggling as this time, so that President Rau recently cried out that the election of the German President is not about who represents one party but to elect the best man for the job.

 

Confusion in Germany

also in the relations between East and West. What have we done with the undeserved gift from God of reunification?  The mood in the West: we have paid enough.  In the East, the impression is of being used and of having a chance only as long there is “cheap-labour”.  The Chancellor promised “blooming landscapes” and to make the East his priority; but there are still different salaries for the same work; unemployment is still three times higher in the East as in the West.  In the meantime, business is flourishing with DDR souvenirs from the “good old times”.  Forgotten is the terror of the SED regime: all aggressions are aimed at “the West”, the DDR is idealized.

 

Confusion in Germany

also in and through Germany in European politics.

Hans Eichel has presented the third budget in which a new debt is more than 3% of the gross national product.  Instead of – as required by the Germans themselves (Waigel CDU 1993) – paying the appropriate “fine” to the EU, he found comrades, “sinners” like himself, to help with the vote to avoid the fine.  What Germany and France can do without punishment, so can any other country also do in the future, especially the new states in the East.  That means that on national-egotistical grounds, Germany endangered the stability of the Euro.

 

Politically, there is also a signal for confusion in Europe:  at the beginning of February, Chirac and Blair met with Schröder.  The fear of the smaller members of being dominated by the big four (three + Italy) is talked down but, in fact confirmed by the demand for a Superminister for economy, finances and environment (who suits them).

At a time when the Irish President Bertie Ahern is vigorously seeking consent from Poland and Spain for the new Constitution, this meeting was absolutely the wrong signal, since it fully confirms Poland’s fear of coming under Germany’s and France’s thumb once it is a member.

 

What is happening in Germany?

Should we rail at the government?  It has been shown that the damage is greater than just “the government”.

Should we close our eyes to the situation and simply draw back to private life and let “those at the top” struggle along?  Our responsibility to our country forbids it.

 

Background

 

The Bible commands us in many verses to pray for our heads of state.  If it is a bad government, the prayer is that God’s Will be called out over the government; it can also cause the government to be removed.  Nowhere can I find that it is written to pray for the fall of a government; rather men and women should stand in the gap and pray.

 

A “gap”  is a space in the wall for the protection of the community where a piece has broken out.  The gap is the most endangered part through which the enemy can or already has entered.

I have the impression that recently, the powers of chaos have heavily invaded our country, and that the confuser and his helpers are gaining more and more ground in our nation.

The question came to my heart: where were we? Were the prayer warriors wide awake?

Were they standing ready with the sharp sword and the whole armour?  Have we become slack and sleepy?  Are there some who have not been in their places or have given up?

 

Everywhere I go around the country, I meet the faithful, the courageous; unfortunately,  I also hear – already up front- “we have given up” or “we are fewer now” or “it is hard to fill up the list”.

I appreciate such statements because they are honest and show their trust in being able to talk about troubles.  They also make me sad because in the current situation, everyone needs to be at their post in “the gap” – and ready to do battle.

 

Yet another question appeared: where was I?

Did I give my heart or just my time? Have I fallen into a routine after 4 years?  Am I on fire?  Does this burn in me as in the beginning?  Have I strengthened my brethren as much as they needed? Am I taking care of  “The Watchman’s Call” or the people?  How do I guide my brothers and sisters?  Do I listen enough to God or to the situation?  Where am I leading my prayer-brethern?

 

We have sufficient experience in prayer not to complain about the circumstances; rather to pray about them.  We are also practised in “standing in the gap”  and praying for forgiveness of sins for others.  So am I.

It is here that God put me personally on the spot.  He asked me in regard to the misery in the land about my attitude of love, my devotion to our people and my failure regarding my calling.

How shall Germany come into its calling if I do not walk in mine?

 

Prayer

 

O God, Lord of the world and this land, forgive me and us (where it concerns others) all routine, sleepiness and sighing with which we have practised your holy service, to stand for our country. Forgive me/us our casualness and carelessness. Forgive me/us also any resignation that we have accepted, thinking we cannot change much. Instead of reigning, we resigned. We have given the enemy room in this land.

Father, we have let things go, among ourselves, when brethren have stayed away, as well as in the country’s political development, making things worse. Forgive us for neutralising your pain in so many ways. Make us again, Father, recipients of your feelings for Germany.

 

            “Then YOU see what sin and injustice is done –

  who, Lord, can stand before you.”  (M. Luther)

 We want to stand in the gap for the sins of our people, as the Holy Spirit reveals: as

 representatives for repentance – not more than 2-3 things, but as far as possible, 

 receiving the stirring of God’s Heart about them:  Take time.  Pray for:

-          Government: Chancellor Schröder, various Ministers

-          Opposition (co-operation, Chancellor candidate)

-          Various reforms (socially permitted burdens)

-          Dignity of candidates for German President from God, protection from burn-out

-          East-West: repentance on both sides for mutual rejection; ask the east Germans to forgive the west Germans for their arrogance and abuse; blessings for the people of the other side of Germany

-          Ask for God’s blessings and guidance on the difficult road to uniting Europe.

-          Pray for a helping role for Germany.

-          Ask for a recognizable reference to God in the Constitution.

-          No Europe moving forward at two different speeds.

 

Please, all leaders, pray more faithfully for your groups; regional co-ordinators for your co-ordinators, and we want to pray for all of you, Gabi and I. Also pray faithfully in the opposite direction, pray more faithfully for your leaders.  We need each other so much! Together we are strong through our Lord, Jesus Christ. HE is the victor over Germany!

 

 

Ortwin Schweitzer

(Translation: Evelyn Souan)