33 years ago today the world saw a revolution without a war. The fall of the Berlin wall began with a prayer service at a Lutheran Church in Leipzig.

This is Christian Fuehrer, Pastor at St. Nicholas Lutheran Church in Leipzig. Here’s how you can start a movement without a dime in your pocket.

The peaceful revolution began 33 years ago today, October 9, 1989 at the beautiful Church of St. Nicolas, the oldest church in Leipzig (Houston’s sister city). It was founded in 1165. By its 800th anniversary in 1965 it was located in East Germany, The GDR (1949-1990): German Democratic Republic. It was a communist state, part of the Eastern Bloc, occupied by Soviet forces, controlled by the Stasi, secret police (Staatssicherheitsdienst). The Stasi’s main purpose was spying on the population. Berlin had been walled off by the Berlin Wall. Many people were killed fleeing, either shot or blown up in land mines.

Nikolai Kirche was a sanctuary, a safe space, where, even in the GDR, one could speak freely. The pastor at St. Nikolai began with prayer, every Monday. A few, gathered. Then there were more, then many. By September 1989 there were a thousand. The youth group had signs that said, “we want a free country, an open country, free for all the people.” Some were arrested. More came.

By October of 1989, 33 years ago, thousands were gathering for prayer with lit candles. The church could no longer hold them. They poured out into the streets, security forces with machine guns leering at them.

Pastor Fuehrer was arrested, but the crowds continued to come. Then, on October 9, 70,000 people showed up in Leipzig. They had signs that said, “We Are The People” and “No Violence.” The local combat group threatened the “protesters.” Extra police were sent, so the city swelled with 8,000 security forces. Why they did not shoot is still a mystery. The crowds remained peaceful and fundamentally altered the course of European history.

October 9, 1989

One month later, November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, and soon afterward, the communist regime. Not one shot was fired. It started with young people praying. At a church.

The Monday prayers are still going on, and every year in October Leipzig remembers with a Festival of Lights. Watch this video:

Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of people can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.”