Heinrich von Buenau

The Price for an inner Change

Some events in life are particularly deeply memorable, such as the following, personally experienced story from 1988, when I was 31 years old and had just finished my first school year at a Bible school in Erzhausen/Hessen.
  For a few days I recovered in St.Tönis with Hubert, a Christian friend. Before I should go up to Bremen for a community internship.
     From St. Toenis to Düsseldorf it is only a stone's throw, and so we went to the Jesushaus on Saturday evening. There I had come to the Christian faith under dramatic circumstances just three years earlier and of course I was looking forward to meeting some friends and acquaintances again.
     That evening a well-known preacher spoke about how God could fundamentally change a person's inner self: "Do you believe that? A multiple "Hallelujah", "Praise the Lord" and "Amen! A common response to such more or less rhetorical questions.
    "Who wants to experience such a change? Raise your hands, please!" Hands were raised all over the room. Again some "Hallelujahs" and "God is great" shouts became audible. The preacher nodded and then looked silently into the slowly calming audience. Then he said: "Are you also prepared to pay the price for such a change? Suffer to put up with it?"
    Suddenly it became very quiet in the hall. "Is there anyone here who is willing to accept suffering for such an inner change? "Let him or her raise his or her hand, please!" Nothing happened, not a single arm went up. The preacher nodded again and then slowly and deliberately said: "Thank you, brothers and sisters, for being so honest!

In the following days I usually stayed at Hubert's house. The eight months of Bible school had been quite intensive and I enjoyed the days off without lessons, events, learning and triple rooms. My daily program consisted of sleeping in, doing nothing, stimulating conversations with Hubert and reading or dozing in the garden chair.
    One morning, however, Hubert was away on business, I sat down in the garden and took time for prayer and the Bible. And when I was sitting and thinking so quietly at some point, I suddenly remembered the sermon from the House of Jesus. Oh, I thought I could actually pray for an inner change. And so I closed my eyes and prayed that God would change me inwardly.
    I had hardly said the words when a thought flashed clearly into my head: Are you willing to pay the price for it? I immediately remembered the whole event in the House of Jesus. The silence in the hall when the preacher had asked almost the same question. Was I really willing to pay the price? To put up with suffering?
    For a moment I sat with my eyes closed on my blanket and thought. In conversation with God, one should weigh one's words when it comes to such things. Finally I said: "Yes, I agree! I'm willing to pay the price!"
    The next moment I saw myself entering a bank, going to a counter and receiving money. This "recording" may have lasted perhaps five seconds before it stopped abruptly and returned to a uniform black. I opened my eyes and thought: Strange!

A few days later I had finished my short vacation with Hubert and was on the train to Bremen. Because that's where I should be spending the next 15 months. First do a three-month church internship in the local Pentecostal church, and then work in the Christian social work there for another year.
   A few minutes before arriving at the main station I did not hold it in my seat anymore. I grabbed my suitcase and headed for the next train door. What would I find here in this town? Curious and exploratory, I looked at the rustling facades of the houses.
    The first impression was not bad, but also not very informative. Nothing that would have taken me directly for or against the city. The train started to slow down, then I heard the announcement: "Next stop... Bremen Central Station!"
On Monday morning I officially started my community internship. Since Pastor G. would not return from his mission until two days later, I tried to make myself useful in the church office. Quite monotonous, stupid work, so I was glad when the parish secretary asked me about my lunch break: "Could you come by later to see Sister Edermann. She lives at the end of the hall and probably needs help. She just got out of the hospital."
    So a little later I rang at that sister. It took quite a while until I heard shuffling steps inside and then an older woman's voice asked: "Who is there?"  
   After I made myself known as the new intern, a chain was unlocked and the door opened. An approximately 75 year old woman with white hair and an eye bandage stood before me. "Yes, come in! I've been expecting you." And so she turned around and slowly walked inside the apartment on one floor. I followed her.
"Sit down," she said when we arrived in the living room. "You'll have to excuse me, but I have to wear the blindfold. I just had eye surgery. Cataract! ...would you like a drink?" "No, thank you," I replied, "don't bother, Mrs Edermann. They told me at the office you needed help. How can I help you?"
   "Oh, young man," she replied, "I have no more money in the house. Could you come with me to the bank?" I was speechless for a moment. You can't be serious, I thought. "Blind" and handicapped, and now she wants to go to the bank? "Sister Edermann," I said, "do you really want to do this to yourself? Go outside in your current state? You know what? Give me a bank mandate. Then I'll go alone and you won't have to bother."

It took quite a while until I had convinced Sister Edermann of my idea. "But I don't even know you!" was her repeated argument. Finally, however, she realized that in her condition a trip to the city by tram would be very difficult and that I was after all a "Bible student" known to the congregation.
    "How much money shall I pick up, Sister Edermann?" I asked her now. "I had thought about 1000 DM," was her prompt answer. "That much?" I asked in surprise. "Yeah well," she said, "I have to pay the rent, and I have to eat and drink, too."  She probably just wanted some cash in the apartment, but that was none of my business. "Well, Sister Edermann, I'll be on my way."
     I was almost at the door when she called out to me: "Wait a minute, Mr von Bünau! I just remembered something else." I stopped while she slowly approached supported on her cane.  "Could you bring me a pack of fresh milk on the way back from the supermarket?" she asked. "Sure," I said, "No problem!" "And for God's sake, take good care of the money. There's a lot of thieves out here!"
    I smiled and said reassuringly: "Sister Edermann, don't worry about that. Your money is in safe hands with me. This won't get away from me."
    With these words I opened the door and said: "See you later!" "Yes," she said, "just watch the money. This is an insecure area." Smiling at so much unworldly concern I walked through the door and closed it behind me.

Everything was running smoothly at the bank counter. Half an hour later I was already on my way back, the 1000 DM plus my identity card well stowed away in a purse, which Sister Edermann had given me.
    I was only a few meters away from the community when it suddenly occurred to me that I should bring a carton of milk. I stopped and looked around. Far and wide no business. Shit! I thought and went looking. I was lucky! I found a supermarket two blocks down. I went inside, bought the carton of milk and a few other little things for myself. As I approached the queue at the checkout, the things lay together with the purse in the shopping cart.
    What do you do when you have to wait? You think, dream, look around and hope to finally get to it. But in the end everything was paid for, I took the things and left the supermarket again.
   I may have walked maybe ten meters when I stopped like a thunderbolt. I was struck by a thought that went straight to the core: The purse is gone! Shocked, I turned around and entered the supermarket again.

Five minutes later it had become a certainty: The purse together with the 1000 DM and my identity card had disappeared. It was not in the previously used shopping cart, nor had it been handed in to staff in the shop. I tried feverishly to remember. When was the last time I saw the purse? I remembered putting them in the shopping cart. But not that I took it out too.
    There was only one explanation: it must have been stolen from the shopping cart while shopping or at the checkout. I remembered Sister Edermann's words boiling hot: "But be careful. There are a lot of thieves out here...!"
   What am I supposed to do now? At least not face her! And so I returned to my apartment for the time being.

I lay on the comfortable leather sofa in the living room, but the thoughts in my head rest: What am I supposed to do now? Old Edermann might get hit if I confess to her.
   Suddenly - out of nowhere - I remembered Hubert's morning again. The prayer in his garden, where I had asked God for inner change. My breath stopped: Wait a minute!? I asked for the price of such a change... The answer was suffering! ... and then the movie in my head. I saw myself go into a bank and make a withdrawal!
   With a jerk I sat up straight. Inside me, a chandelier lit as if someone in a dark room had operated the light switch. Within a few seconds, all the incomprehensible "puzzle pieces" formed a clear picture: Of course, I asked for inner change and God showed me in the film what had happened four days later. So this had been planned by God!  

    I walked up and down the room restlessly. That changed everything! No one could avoid the will of God. Nor I the robbery of DM 1,000. I turned on the TV to distract myself. Two young men appeared on the screen, obviously arguing. A typical afternoon series! "Yes," said the one," I don't know how that could happen either. But the 1000 DM are gone. Stolen, I don't know... !"
    I stared at the screen in disbelief. Was I just going crazy, or had the words really fallen? In fact, it was DM 1,000 that had been stolen from someone. Now it was perfectly clear! It was meant to happen. The changing sufferings had begun!

A little later, with a heavy heart, I made my way to Sister Edermann. To my great surprise, she reacted completely differently than expected.  "Oh God, oh God! I knew it," she exclaimed. "And I told you to watch out for them around here!" "That's right," I said. "But it has now happened and can no longer be changed. I'm sorry!"
    Then she said calmly, "You'll have to replace the money!" "Yeah, sure," I replied. "That goes without saying! Is it in monthly installments?"
   When I left her apartment a little later, I was relieved. That went off fairly lightly, I thought. Thank God!

All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Heinrich von Buenau.
Published on e-Stories.org on 07/10/2018.


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