By Dr. Hans Grimm
(Editor’s Note: This article was published in the WordMinistry paper edition in August 2006. It was reprinted from the The Voice of Truth International which was then edited by J.C.Choate. Please read this article in relation to the article “Continuity or Restoration?” and make your own conclusion.)
May I speak of myself as a connecting link of the Central European churches of Christ and the brethren and sisters of the English-speaking restoration movement? Hitler’s henchmen in World War II tried to complete the destruction of the Lord’s little flock. In 1933 all bishops and deacons of the churches of Christ on German soil were imprisoned in Konzentra-tion-slager. In 1939 the adult members in East Prussia followed their shepherds into the prisons and hard-labor convoys, where they perished in 1944, and in 1942 the 11 Allssatian families were deported to Poland. There they were massacred by the advancing Red tankists in January 1945. All died with the same heroism for their Lord as their ancestors did.
I was born in 1899 at Sablon-lez-Metz as a scion of one of the oldest Christian families between the Mosele and the Alps. My dear father was one of the last three bishops of the church of Christ in Strassburg, and I was immersed by my uncle in the icy waters of the Hnauer Wiher March 18,1916. Trained in Strassburg, Konisberg, and Hamburg Universities, I obtained a license in comparative history of religions. Imprisoned in 1933 by the Nazis for preaching the gospel in the face of a blasphemous government, I had to suffer almost two years in the concentration camps of Mammerstein and Lichtenburg, hunger, thirst and the uninterrupted thrashing of arms, shinbones and head, like all other political, religious or non-Aryan prisoners. Released, deaf in one ear and with crushed kidneys, I continued preaching like my ancestors in woods, hills and swamps or in hiding places in the large cities. I had to sell my special library and furniture to manage to live. When World War II began, I was commissioned as an interpreter with the army.
Back in Leipzig on Christmas, 1945, I learned of my dear father’s death, and from some survivors, the extermination of our churches in East Europe. I immediately toop up the task of rebuilding the destroyed brotherhood, and I had to work hard as a proofreader, reporter, and lecturer to earn a living not only for me, but also for the old and sick brethren and sisters in Communist-ruled, famine-stricken and ravaged East Germany. I could say with the apostle, “These hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me” (Acts 20:34).
Just at the beginning of a remarkable revival of young people in Leipzig, and three months after my wedding, I was arrested October 9, 1948, by the Communists and for four years imprisoned in the ill-famed jails of Leipzig, Waldheim and Graefentonna. The pretended reasons: conspiracy against the Red government in religious circles.
Released in the fall of 1952, I joined my dear wife in Western Germany. In March 1953, the Protestant State of Kurhessen-Waldeck invited me to take over the office of president of the Evangelical Academy for Social Ethics in Kassel. I declined; I could not subscribe to the promise not to attack the teaching of the Confession of Augsburg.
But in the same month I met for the first time in my life a member of the restored churches of Christ of America. What he had to tell me was not other than the faith of my ancestors which I had taught and practiced all my life. My grandfather had had contacts with the Scottish (Haldane) Baptists and Sandemanians, yea, even with Christadelphians in Birmingham, but the American Restoration Movement had been totally unknown to us. And now the fact that the Lord had built up his church beyond the Atlantic, just in time, when his last followers in Europe dwindled, hit me like a thunderclap. The torch did not die out! God had kindled it again and put it on a lamp stand and it gives light for everybody in the house. This was the fulfillment of Christ’s promise: I am going to build my church, and the powers of death will never prevail against it.