What's your biggest fear? If you were given the opportunity to escape your biggest fear, would you? Most of us would probably say yes. So did Deitrich Bonhoeffer when he was given the opportunity to escape Nazi Germany before the beginning of WWII... but true courage is a journey, he'd be back...
As the Nazi’s rose to power, they enacted an “Aryan Clause” that discouraged Jewish membership from the German state church. Bonhoeffer felt this was wrong, and spoke out against it publicly. Eventually, he helped organize a breakaway church to oppose Nazi laws.
Thus, by 1939, Bonhoeffer was an obvious target for Nazi persecution. When he was given an opportunity to flee to America, he gladly accepted. Yet after only two months in the safety of the United States, Bonoffer caught the last ship back to Germany before the beginning of the war. He said:
“I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America. … Christians in Germany will have to face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying civilization. I know which of these alternatives I must choose but I cannot make that choice from security.”
When he got back to Germany, he was able to use his worldwide connections in academia to secure himself a position working in Nazi intelligence. His inside job enabled him to help German Jews escape to Switzerland and other neutral countries. Eventually his resistance was discovered. He was sent to various prisons and concentration camps for three years, until he was executed by hanging in 1945.
Although Bonhoeffer gave his life for his beliefs, his courage lives on. The many books and articles he wrote in prison are still inspiring people around the world. It is natural to run away from danger and fear. However, like Deitrich Bonhoeffer, we must remember that it is when we leave security, take courage and face our enemies head on, that our lives are filled with purpose and impact.
By: Susanna Olson
Courage is a powerful, yet abstract word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:
“Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
while the Oxford dictionary explains it as:
“The ability to do something that frightens one.”
I thought it would be interesting to look at courage as defined by some of history’s fearless heroes...
When he arrived, the men in charge tried to convince him to serve as a commander general. In this position he would remain safe from the harm of musket balls. Joseph Warren refused. He was a doctor, not a general. Despite his friend’s pleas, he insisted that a more experienced soldier be placed in charge. He would fight as an ordinary soldier.
...All night long she rode furiously through the countryside, sounding the alarm and rallying the men. A friendly man stopped her and asked if she would like him to accompany her on her dangerous mission. She refused, sending him the opposite direction so that he could help spread the word farther. All in all, Sybil road 40 miles, more than double the amount Paul Revere rode on his famous night ride. She did not weary. She did not give up...