Koinonia Farm’s vision statement is “love through service to others, joy through generous hospitality, peace through reconciliation.” All of our guest rooms are named after people who have come before us and embodied these ideas. These peacemakers are from all over the world and from all different periods of history. This “great cloud of witnesses” and their stories encourage us to keep pursuing love, joy, and peace in our life and work.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born on February 4, 1906 in Breslau, Germany. He and his twin sister Sabine were six and seventh out of eight children born to Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer. By the age of 14, Bonhoeffer decided to study theology and become a minister. He attended the University of Tübingen beginning in 1923 and then went to the University of Berlin for his doctoral work. After ﬁnishing at the University of Berlin, he traveled to Spain to be a pastor to a group of Germans in Barcelona. He continued his education at Union Seminary in New York from 1930-1. Bonhoeffer returned to Germany in 1931 and began teaching at the University of Berlin. He was ordained in 1931 at the age of 25.
The course of his life and ministry change drastically in 1933 when Hitler came to power. Bonhoeffer resisted Hitler and the Nazi ideology from the start. He was a part of the Confessing Church, which stood against Hitler and the Nazis. He traveled to England in the fall of 1933. While there, he continued to work with the Confessing Church. In 1934, the Barmen Declaration established the Confessing Church and its allegiance to Jesus Christ above any nation or government.
We must learn to regard people less in light of what they do or omit to do, and more in light of what they suffer.
For the next two years, 1935-7, Bonhoeffer held an underground seminary at Finkenwalde. Out of this experience, he wrote and published two books: The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together. In 1937, the Gestapo closed the seminary and arrested some of Bonhoeffer’s students. He then traveled for two years in secret, teaching young pastors and continuing his work against the Nazi regime. The Nazis banned him from Berlin in 1938 and Bonhoeffer traveled back to New York in 1939. He was only in the United States for a month before deciding to return to Germany to ﬁght back against Hitler.
We are not simply to bandage the wounds of the victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.
Bonhoeffer joined the German Military Intelligence in 1941 in order to work secretly against the Nazis by helping Jews escape. This same year, he was forbidden to print or publish inside Germany. In 1943, Bonhoeffer was caught and imprisoned. For the ﬁrst two years, he stayed in a military prison. During this time, he was able to continue writing letters, employing a guard to smuggle them out to his friends. These letters were later published in Letters and Papers from Prison. By 1945, the full extent of his work against the Nazis was uncovered and he was moved ﬁrst to Buchenwald concentration camp and then to Flossenbürg concentration camp. On April 9, 1945, Bonhoeffer was hanged for involvement in the conspiracies to overthrow Hitler. His writings continue to teach the ways of paciﬁsm and community to this day.
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.