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A Spiritual Autobiography
How God fulfilled the faith-based hopes
of an ordinary guy from Jersey City
Sometimes when I watch the news on TV it seems that things are so bad that there is no hope for a better future. This is especially so these days when terroroism in various forms is on the rise. Almost every day there is mention of some new atrocity by the terrorists who have declared themselves to be “The Islamic State” (ISIS or ISAL).
These are time when I need to be reminded that with God there is always reason to hope. One of the ways I am reminded that despite all that is wrong, there is hope, is the plaque given to Joan and me by our friend, my partner in ministry, Patty Perez. On it are the words “A small Ray of HOPE changes everything“. So as I’m watching the bad news on the TV screen I’m also seeing those words of hope just below the screen. In the midst of the bad news I cannot help seeing that however bad things look now, eventually there will be good news. I see this in many of the stories told in the Bible. I also see this as I reflect on historic events, especially those that have taken place in my life time.
Here’s one example. On September 11, 2001 the USA experienced the attacks on and total destruction of the World Trade Center towers in New York City. For the next few weeks, this bad news was reported and discussed over and over again. There seemed sure to result in a sense of total hopelessness. But in this case, I observed that we did not lose hope. We would fight against and ultimately defeat the terrorists of this world. That has not yet happened. The war against terrorism continues. However, about two weeks ago, the New World Trade Center building opened for business. The tallest building in the Western hemisphere, with roughly the same capacity as the two towers that were destroyed, stands as a symbol which reminds us that with God, there is always hope. And if that hope is according to God’s will, it will be fulfilled.
Here’s one more historic example of hope where there seems to be no hope. Good news in the midst of bad news. On Sunday, November 9, as I watched and read the bad news about the continuing terrorism in the Middle East, as well as continuing threats of terrorism in the USA, I also became aware of some really good news. Fifty years ago , November 9, 1989, was the beginning of the destruction of the Berlin wall.
The Berlin wall was constructed by the Soviet Union in 1961. The purpose of this wall was to prevent the people of East Germany from escaping to freedom in West Berlin. This resulted in the separation of the people of east and West Germany from each other. Families were torn apart. Those who attempted to escape over the wall were shot and killed. Once again, a situation in which there seemed to be no hope. Nothing but bad news.
About two years later, on June 26,1963, American President John F. Kennedy, gave a speech to a huge audience in West Berlin, after having visited and seen the Berlin wall. He closed his speech with these words “All free men, wherever they live, are citizens of Berlin. And therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ ” (German for “I am a Berliner”). He was cheered by his German audience. That speech was a Ray of Hope. Unfortunately, President Kennedy was unable to do anything about the Berlin wall, since five months later, he was assassinated.
The evil forces which built the wall separating East from West and the killing of those who tried to escape continued. There really seemed to be no hope. On this issue there was nothing but bad news, day after day, year after year. However, while it was not all that evident, there was some good news happening over the next 24 years. There had been some major changes in the leadership of the Soviet Union. Under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev there were some significant reforms in the Soviet Union, which included East Germany, which resulted in greater freedom for its people and and a closer and better relationship to the the USA. However, the Berlin Wall continued to stand between East and West.
During those 24 years there had also been changes in the leadership of the USA. After a succession of Presidents, Ronald Reaaen was elected as President of the USA. The time came for him to make a speech during a visit to Germany. The date was June 12, 1987. He was advised not to say anything that would tend to upset the improving relationship between the USA and the Soviet Union or raise false hopes among the people behind the Berlin Wall. By now it had been reluctantly accepted that the entrapment of the people of East Berlin behind the Berlin wall was going to continue. The best thing the USA could do was to maintain a peaceful relationship with the Soviet Union. But President Reagan was not going along with that kind of thinking.
When President Kennedy gave his hope-filled speech 24 years earlier, the location of the speech was about two miles from the Berlin wall. Over 400,000 people in West Berlin heard him speak, but his words were not heard by the people of East Berlin. This time things would be different. President Reagan gave his speech just 100 yards from the Brandenburg gate (the only means of access between East and West Berlin), with loud speakers directed in such a way that he would be heard by the people of East Berlin. In his autobiography he mentioned that he became angry as he observed the East German police pushing people away from the wall. He said that he was sure that his anger was reflected in his voice, as he closed the speech with the words “Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization – come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr.Gorbachev, tear down this wall”.
Hopes had again been raised. And two years and five months later, it was becoming clear that those hopes of freedom for the people of East Germany were going to be fulfilled. On the evening of November 9, 1989, the East German government publicly announced that the people of East Berlin would in the future be allowed to freely travel through the Brandenburg gate. The people immediately acted on that announcement. Not only that, they began to tear down the Berlin wall itself. At first, the government tried to repair the wall, but over the next two years they realized that saving the wall was futile, and it was officially torn down. The hopes that had been raised in speeches by Presidents Kennedy and Reagan had been fulfilled. More than that, they led to the official unification of East and West Germany, the downfall of the Soviet Union and the rule of Communism, and freedom for all of the nations of Eastern Europe, which had been under the control of the Communist Soviet Union since the end of World War II. To me this was one of the greatest example of the truth that Patty and I are trying to proclaim through our internet ministry, Ray of Hope Ministries, which includes this website: If you hope for something, and it is in accordance with God’s will, then God will fulfill that hope, in God’s time and God’s way.
Today my hope is that the evil forces which call themselves The Islamic State (ISIS or ISAL) will be defeated. I believe that is God’s will. So I believe that God, in his time and his way, will fulfill that hope.
Grace and peace, Ray
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.
Patty Perez and Ray Gough
Perception or Discernment