A young wife and mother reflects on freedom and empowerment

Erika Barth

Erika Brinkmann Barth 1987 –

Erika grew up in the Bruderhof alongside her eight sisters, attended public high school, and spent the better part of the next decade studying in Albany, New York, and Erfurt, Germany, where she completed her master’s degree in education. In 2016 she married Johann and their daughter was born in 2018. 

University classmates would often ask, “Do you have to do what you’re asked? Do you have to move where the community tells you, and work where you’re told to work?” I’d always turn those questions around: “Look, I chose this life and freely affirmed my willingness to be used wherever my services are needed.”

It was my decision to put myself at the disposal of the community, and the community is honoring that decision. I was the one who said I wanted to live this life; to give my faculties, time, and energy to help create a just society where everyone is treated with love and respect.

The opposite of freedom is not determinism, but hardness of heart. Freedom presupposes openness of heart, of mind, of eye and ear.
Abraham Joshua Heschel, rabbi and activist

Society is obsessed with the hyphenated self words: self-expression, self-determination, self-actualization, and self-fulfillment. But it’s the wrong orientation. 

The self isn’t what gives a person true freedom and empowerment. The apostle Paul describes the “glorious freedom of the children of God,” the freedom that Christ’s followers – those who deny themselves for their fellow human beings – can be assured of. I am liberated in the certainty that God loves me for who I am, as I am, and that is what empowers me.

“Quick! Come out of the rain and in for lunch!”

Your Turn

Enter your questions or reactions here and we’ll pass it on to author Clare Stober.

The Book

A Window into a Christian Community at 100 Years

With photography by British photojournalist Danny Burrows, this 300-page hardcover book celebrates what is possible when people take a leap of faith. It will inspire anyone working to build a more just, peaceful, and sustainable future.

Book Cover in blue

Get a Sneak Preview

Sign-up below to download a free sampler of this book. You'll also be notified by email as new stories are posted.

We will never share your email address with unrelated third parties. Read our Privacy Policy.