We Turned to the Source of True Righteousness
As told by Erwin Grosse
A FEW years ago, early morning would have found me at the gates of a huge shipyard in Kiel, Germany, distributing leaflets and selling Rote Fahne, the magazine of the KPD/ML.* At the same time I would have been trying to draw workers and apprentices into debates. Trying to convince them of my communist opinions was a thankless task.
However, I did not let this get me down. I had discovered a goal in life: helping to bring about righteous conditions by means of world revolution. How did I come to that point of view? Would such a goal in life satisfy my hunger for righteousness?
Searching for Righteousness
My parents’ way of life was to go all out for material prosperity, and this did not appeal to me at all. We young folks were searching for something better. New life-styles were being tried out and new purposes in life proclaimed. At that time, the Vietnam war and student unrest were making the headlines. It seemed to us that innocent people were paying with their lives for the megalomania of the politicians and the capitalists. This situation weighed on my mind, and I began to hate the capitalist system.
I also turned my back on established religion. An experience I had while serving in the West German armed forces helped me to make this decision. The military maneuvers we were engaged in were interrupted for a camp service, and the soldiers were divided into Catholic and Protestant groups. At the conclusion of the service, the clergymen of both denominations blessed the heavy artillery! I was shocked. Were these weapons not constructed to kill? And when I was religiously instructed at school, had I not been taught: “Thou shalt not kill”?—Exodus 20:13, King James Version.
I felt that Karl Marx was right when he called religion “the opium of the people” because it rendered people powerless in the face of the interests of capitalism. So after leaving the army, I resigned from the church and took regular lessons in Marxism-Leninism. I also read the works of Mao Tse-tung. All of this strengthened my conviction that only world revolution could uproot evil. Only by such means, I thought, could a new human society characterized by righteousness appear.
The KPD/ML trained me to win workers for Lenin’s teachings and to offer them leaflets and Rote Fahne. I also carried banners and drove loudspeaker cars at demonstrations. Nevertheless, I was viewed only as a sympathizer of the party. Before the central committee would admit me as a member, I had to prove myself, serving the party for some time and supporting it financially.
Different in Practice—Bitter Disappointment!
I had been trained as an engineering draftsman, but I was more interested in the art of the socialist painters, and I wished I could busy myself as creatively as they did. Therefore, I applied for a place at the West Berlin College of Art. I was accepted and commenced my art study in February 1972.
Here I again contacted the party and was soon standing in front of factory gates selling Rote Fahne. I also designed placards and painted portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Mao Tse-tung on red flags.
I was determined never to marry—that is, until I met Linda. I found that she possessed a rare quality, faithfulness, and this made me change my mind. Five months later we were man and wife, starting out on what was to be a harmonious marriage.
Formerly, I had lived with a group of young people who held various leftist sentiments. We had wide-ranging discussions, but there was also friction and animosity. It was much the same in the different communist parties. Each maintained that all others had misunderstood the communist idea and should join the “true” party. Battle lines were drawn!
Within my own party, struggles between the left and the right wings were commonplace. Prominent members tried to depose one another. I grew tired of the fights and insults, and this led to my gradually breaking off all connection with the party. I saw no sense in being involved with something that in reality could bring no change. The communist ideal had proved itself unattainable in practice! But in my heart I remained a Marxist.
Linda Tells Me About God
One night, while driving from Kiel to Berlin, Linda shocked me. She said: “I’m convinced that there is a God, and deep down, I believe in him.” That was the last thing I expected to hear! Linda had supported my Marxist ideals.
A heated dispute about dialectical materialism and Marxism followed. Marxism presents the thesis that man derives the whole of his spiritual, intellectual, and moral life from his social environment. As a consequence, the “new” man emerges as a result of education in communist ideology and by a positive change in environment. Linda, however, was a trained laboratory technician, and she knew better! She could prove that man’s behavior is also influenced by his genetic makeup. We broke off our discussion to avoid a quarrel.
During a later trip, Linda again felt a desire to talk with me about God. In my view, the theory of evolution confirmed that everything had its origin in material things and was the result of pure chance. Linda brought up the principles of thermodynamics, the law of inertia, and other physical laws in order to prove that an intelligent originator of life must exist. I stuck to my opinions. My philosophy of life and my ideals were, however, already in shreds!
A year went by. One Sunday morning Linda suddenly got out a thick book and began to read to me from it. It was the story of a man who felled a tree, used half of it to make a lifeless idol and then beseeched it: “Deliver me.” This striking description of religion impressed me very much. Imagine my surprise to learn that it came from the Bible.—Isaiah 44:14-20.
I asked my wife to tell me more. She did so for five hours—starting with the fall of man in Eden and finishing with the restoration of Paradise described in the book of Revelation. This left Linda completely exhausted, but I felt as if scales had fallen from my eyes and that I was able to see clearly for the first time. Naturally, I wanted to know where Linda had learned all of this.
She told me that when she was 14 years old, she had studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses in Berlin and later was even baptized. When she was 18, she had to move far away because of her employment, and sad to say, she abandoned the way of the truth. Then when she returned to Berlin, she got involved in leftist politics. The happiness that she now experienced in our marriage moved her to seek God anew. But would he forgive her for her mistakes? She knew that the only way to preserve our lives and the happiness of our marriage was repentantly to turn back to God. But I was not at that point yet. I needed more time.
A Turn in the Right Direction
One summer evening, we watched a golden sunset over the city. Linda said: “Maybe we can enjoy such things for a while, Erwin. But will God keep us alive when he intervenes? What reason are we giving him to do so?” This brought me to my senses. I had learned something about Jehovah but clearly not enough. So I definitely decided to turn to him.
Shortly after this, we were in the marketplace when we saw an elderly woman in a wheelchair holding The Watchtower. We asked her to tell us the times of meetings at the local Kingdom Hall, and her eyes began to shine. She grasped our hands: “I’m happy that young people like you want to know the Bible,” she said repeatedly. Overwhelmed with joy, she sat upright in her wheelchair and gave Linda a hug. We accepted some magazines and promised to come to the next meeting.
We arrived shortly before it began. I had long hair and a beard and was dressed in jeans and T-shirt. Linda was wearing her aunt’s 30-year-old navy-blue wedding dress. I saw a man in a jacket and tie standing at the entrance and thought: ‘A real square! What a great beginning!’ He was friendly, however, and said: “We’ve been expecting you.” I was taken aback but said to him: “We would like a Bible study.” Even that did not surprise him. “It’s already been arranged,” he replied. A little bit irritated, we entered.
During the meeting, I felt several times as if the speaker were addressing me personally. And some in the congregation were surprised when Linda took out The Watchtower that she had prepared in advance for the study. After the two hours, the elderly sister came and embraced us, her face radiant with joy. She was the one who had spread the news of our coming. Arrangements were made for a regular Bible study with the brother who had welcomed us, and nine months later, on April 4, 1976, I symbolized my dedication to Jehovah by water immersion.
How glad I was to get to know the One who promised: “Look! I am making all things new”! (Revelation 21:5) And how will the Creator bring about true righteousness? Proverbs 2:21, 22 provides the answer: “For the upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.”
Whereas I formerly stood with Rote Fahne in front of factory gates, I now stood on Saturdays on Karl Marx Street in Berlin-Neukölln with The Watchtower. Now I could speak about something that no man-made system can offer: everlasting life. (John 17:3) I learned how “the upright” are even now being trained to clothe themselves with “the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new.” (Colossians 3:10) This education for a new world will not fail!
As for Linda, she was now determined never again to turn away from the Source of true righteousness. Peter and Reni, who taught us Jehovah’s ways, recognized what she needed spiritually and helped her to make progress.
New Goals on the Path of Righteousness
At college, there was open disapproval of the beliefs that I now embraced so zealously. My class professor, a renowned painter, indicated that I would have to decide between art and my new faith. So I gave up painting and looked for work that would help us reach our new goal: pioneer service. With this in mind, Linda and I repeatedly made mention of our desire to Jehovah in prayer. We sent off our applications a half year in advance of our planned starting date, September 1, 1977.
Well, it was not easy, but with Jehovah’s help we reached our goal. Meanwhile, since January 1, 1985, Linda and I have been serving as special pioneers—so another burning desire has come to fulfillment. Using our whole strength to help people to learn the path of true righteousness satisfies us very much.
And what about my longing for righteousness? Has it been satisfied? Yes. Today I know the real meaning of Jesus’ words at Matthew 5:6: “Happy are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, since they will be filled.”
Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands/Marxisten-Leninisten (German Communist Party/Marxists-Leninists).