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Christians working together
To make a difference

Friday, 18 September 2009

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Esther John

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Lutheran - Pastor 4th February 1906 - 9th April 1945
Bonhoeffer was born into a wealthy family in Breslau. After studies and some time in the USA, he returned to Germany and was ordained a Lutheran Pastor. Right from days after Hitler's rise to power, he spoke out publicly in opposition to the regime. This led him to be involved in the setting up of The Confessing Church, which was in direct opposition to the official German Christian Movement. He soon found himself wanted and left Germany to go to London and work in the Lutheran Church there. However he was rebuked for apparently "running away " from the people of Germany and he returned to help run the underground seminaries. A further trip to the States led to another crisis of conscience and he was yet again to return to Germany and the consequences on the eve of World War Two. He became involved in German resistance to Hitler and the failed plots to assassinate him. His activities against the regime led to him being put in concentration camp. Once his role in the failed plots was revealed, his fate was sealed. He was executed just 3 weeks before the end of the war.

The camp doctor who witnessed the execution wrote: “I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer ... kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the few steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

Esther John- Anglican -Evangelist

ESTHER JOHN was born Qamar Zia, on 14 October 1929, one of seven children. As a child she attended a government school and, after the age of seventeen, a Christian school. There she was profoundly moved by the transparent faith of one of her teachers, and she began to read the Bible earnestly. It was when reading the 53rd chapter of Isaiah that she was suddenly overtaken by a sense of conversion to this new religion.
When India was partitioned Qamar Zia moved with her family into the new state of Pakistan. Here she made contact with a missionary, Marian Laugesen in Karachi. Laugesen, at her request, passed on to her a New Testament. Her Christian faith grew privately, even secretly. Then, seven years later, she ran away from home, fearful of the prospect of marriage to a Muslim husband. She found her way back to Laugesen in Karachi.
For a while Qamar Zia worked in an orphanage there, and it was at this time that she took the name Esther John. Her family still pressed her to return and to marry, but on 30 June 1955 she took a train north to Sahiwal, in the Punjab. Here she lived and worked in a mission hospital, stayed with the first Anglican bishop of Karachi, Chandu Ray, and celebrated her first Christmas. Finding a vocation to teach, she entered the United Bible Training Centre in Gujranwala in September 1956. In April 1959 she completed her studies there and moved to Chichawatni, some thirty miles from Sahiwal, living with American Presbyterian missionaries. She evangelized in the villages, travelling from one to the other by bicycle, teaching women to read and working with them in the cotton fields. At times her relationship with her distant and perplexed family appeared calm; at others anxiety and tension brewed.
Her death was sudden and mysterious. On 2 February 1960 Esther John was found dead in her bed at the house where she lived at Chichawatni. She had been brutally murdered.
Her body was taken to the Christian cemetery at Sahiwal and buried. Later, a memorial chapel was built in front of the nurses home in the grounds of the hospital there

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