New life out of ashes
- that's how the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary began...
11th September 1944 – no native of Darmstadt will ever forget the night
when an air raid left our town in ruins – with over 12,000 dead.
The two youth group leaders, Dr. Klara Schlink
(later Mother Basilea)
and Erika Madauss (later Mother Martyria) had been
praying for years for a revival
amongst the young people in their Bible study groups.
When confronted with death,
a breakthrough came and new spiritual life began.
Badly shaken and shocked
out of their previous apathy...
...and half hearted discipleship, the young Bible class members
realized this was life or death, all or nothing.
As they began to confess what they now recognized
as sin in their lives, they had a totally new experience ...
... of God's forgiveness. Gratitude, joy, love and all-out surrender filled their hearts.
A few girls became aware of God's call
to live in community, and ....
on 30th March 1947, the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary
was founded in Mother Basilea's parents' home in Darmstadt.
Soon, God led the young sisterhood
out of their cramped conditions into a new land ...
... their own land, a donated piece of property
that was still barren but would later become the "little land of Kanaan".
God commissioned our two spiritual mothers
to build ...
... a Chapel where He would receive honour and worship.
As a confirmation, they received the following Scripture verse:
"Let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them" (Exodus 25:8)
– written on the monument at the entrance built with bricks salvaged from the ruins.
But how to build with only 30 DM (approx. 15 Dollars) as starting capital?
There was no way to employ a building company!
So the Sisters started to dig out
the foundations themselves.
A member of the city council suggested putting some of the ruined houses
at the Sisters' disposal, and they gratefully accepted the offer.
But each brick had to be cleaned thoroughly
before it could be used for building.
After many weeks of hard work,
the walls for the Chapel and Motherhouse started to rise.
It was a steep learning curve where their faith was often severely tested –
and there were plenty of opportunities to practise reconciliation in every day life ...
... such as when another sister, unused to hard work, caused the very heavy tipping wagon
to jump the rails... Saying "I'm sorry!" became the key for renewed blessing on their work.
The building made progress with the help of a friendly
foreman, and by September 1952 ...
the "Chapel of the Sufferings of Jesus"
was ready to be dedicated.
The banner at the entrance is a testimony that
it was "built alone with the help of the Lord who made
heaven and earth ...".
God is faithful and the buildings were completed without any government or Church grants -
only by faith and trust in Him.
Right from the start, God called us to a life of worship.
As sin and blasphemy swamp the nations,
it is worship that comforts His heart.