The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Heiko's hope

In summer 1960, I attended Camp Beisler in Port Murray, N.J. During a quiet time after lunch when we could rest, read and write postcards home, we began to re-enact a war, using our hands as play guns. Our mouths exploded with sounds of gunfire — "datta-datta-dattas" — and shouts of "Come on, get those Krauts!"

We were loud enough for our counselor, Heiko, to come rushing back. We weren't prepared for how upset he was over our play. He said his father, serving in the German military, had been shot down and killed by Allied forces. We didn't mention it again that week of camp.

I've tried to find Heiko since, to no avail. Maybe he was attending college in the United States, perhaps through Lutheran connections, or maybe he was there for a summer job. But his presence at a Lutheran camp, in a country that orphaned him, speaks of healing and hope amid lingering grief. It cautions against using war and violence as a plaything, or allowing it. It speaks of community in Christ, in which differences, and even old and bitter enemies, might find common sanctuary in the cross.


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February issue


Embracing diversity