Johanna Elizabeth Schropp (1785-1810)
Our dear blessed Sister Johanna Elizabeth Schropp did not leave anything written behind about her path through this time, and so only the following can be imparted:
She was born on August 17, 1785 in Nazareth, where her dear blessed father was then Gemeine Vorsteher. She soon showed herself to be an immensely loving child, and was especially tender towards her dear parents, to whom she tried to bring joy, and if ever she believed that she had saddened them in some way, she had no peace until she had begged them for forgiveness, and was assured again of their contentment and love. Very early she voiced her child-like and tender love for the Savior and a special trust in Him and his faithfulnesswhich she consistently maintained through all circumstances that came to heras well as an inner gratitude for his good guidance, which she glorified to his praise by every opportunity with a humble heart. In her tenth year of life, her parents gave herthis most beloved daughterover to the even better upbringing in the Girls' School here in Bethlehem. There she, as a very capable child that had a great delight in learning, spent her time well and usefully, and made no trouble for her superiors and teachers. She ardently looked forward to the time when she would come into the Choir of the Great Girls, because she hoped then to achieve the blessings of the Gemeine, which she had already longed for as a child. This, her hope, was dearly fulfilled, when in that same year, 1797, she entered into the said Choir. She was taken into the covenant of the Gemeine on September 3, and in June 1798, she attained the enjoyment of the Holy Abendmahl. These were delightful times of celebration for her heart, which she often recalled later with pleasure and great gratitude. In the Girls Choir she showed herself a soul for whom it was very important, from her recognition of her own natural corruption, to truly come to know the Savior as the only doctor of her soul, and through him to be healed. Because of her great conscientiousness and timidity, the good confidence that she had in her Choir Pflegerin stood her in good stead. She discussed [with her Pflegerin] everything that touched on her heart and all her behavior, and then gladly followed the advice given to her. Since she steered a solid course in this spirit, and also in her sustained diligence in her studies qualified herself as a clever and useful person, no one had regrets when she was installed in her seventeenth year, 1802, as Superior and Teacher in the Bethlehem Pension Girls School. In May of the same year she was taken into the Single Sisters' Choir. In the stillness she made a blessed covenant with the Friend of her Soul, that He would shape her completely to His pleasure in this Choir, so that she could do His will in everything, and might become for Him what she should be for Him. Her service in the school was very pleasing and comfortable for her, and the tender love that she had for the children made everything difficult easier for her, as she was immensely esteemed and loved by the children. In this time the Savior led her still deeper in true self-understanding, which caused her some troubled mornings and some anxious nights, but was also useful, as she learned to look to Him even more, out of need and love; moreover she attached herself yet closer to Him as the reconciler of her Sins. Meanwhile, something was always left over for her, which she believed she had not yet experienced and for which she most ardently yearned. Yet, she did not weep in vain, and her desire was blessedly satisfied. God, our dear Savior, blessed the Synod Speech, which she achieved in March 1805 with twenty-four other young sisters. On that same day she made a special covenant of love with the Savior, a bond that would remain uninjured in His hand; she gave herself to him, with soul and body, to be his complete possession, and promised Him that His will should would be her choice in all times and circumstances. She recognized this day as her true day of blessing, and now she was very pleased and well; she lived in Jesus' martyrdom and death, and she rejoiced with humility and submission over her blessed election, which was sealed in her heart for her by the Savior himself.
The last painful illness and subsequent passing of her dear blessed father affected her spirit and body indescribably, and gave her health a hard, even irreparable blow from which she could never completely recover. But the Savior helped her to come far enough that she could continue to go forward in her service at the school, and she did so unfailingly with much interest and faithfulness.
When, in 1807, the dear visitors from the Unity Elders Conference were still here with us, and the Vorsteherin of the Single Sisters' Choir, Sister Maria Elisabeth Kunz, received the call to serve as the Pflegerin and Vorsteherin of the Single Sisters' Choir in Nazareth, our dear sister [Johanna Elisabeth Schropp] was called as her successor in the duties of Vorsteherin in the Single Sisters' Choir here. She took on this assignment timidly, but with faithful trust in the unchanging fidelity and the ever-supportive aid of our good Lord. How she felt in this one sees best in a paper from her own hand, which she left behind and was found. After she led the Loosung for September 26, 1807, which read: I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living," Ps. 116:91, with the verse: "Be the ruler of my deeds, guide me in all to walk worthily to you!" she turned to the Savior, and said, "Spirit, Soul, and Body is devoted to you, Lord our God, and is constantly ready to give to you in Service. This, my faithful, best Savior, I do today completely anew, I devote myself to you with spirit, soul, and body. I give myself wholly in service to you, for now and for my future life. Oh, it humbles me in the dust before you, that you have chosen such a poor and miserable being as I for your service. How incompetent I seem to myself, this you know the best, and if I, my faithful Savior, could not rely on Your merciful support, I would certainly not be able to take on the Service; but I rely in everything completely alone on You, that you will support me through all difficulties. That which You, my good Savior, have always laid on me, always seems nearly too difficult for me, but when I once give myself over to You, to do with me what is pleasing to you, then I can not do other than take it, from Your hand, out of obedience to You and the Gemeine. Now, my most-dear Savior, is my most tender entreaty to you, that you always might be with me, never leave me alone for an instant, and that will might never undertaken something, no matter so small, without You! So, You help me, my dear Savior! Let me linger in no need! Hold me always in your faithful Hand, and that I always follow you as a child, and look to You alone in everything! May you make and keep me only right small before You! May I never, your poor beggar, become tired; because I have otherwise no comfort, and altogether no help to expect, except from You. Be my good father, and lead me with your strong hand! Let me never go, because in my entire Life I never want to be led otherwise than by You. I recommend myself to you then, to a completely new blessing for now and for the coming time. Now I dedicate myself to You anew, for payment of pain, with the whole heart!" One finds also that the blessed sister wrote out this marvelously-fitting text on the day on which she was installed and confirmed in her Choir as Vorsteherin, so as never to forget it.
That the martyrdom of Jesus and his worthy Suffering had taken her heart is illuminated in the following statement: "O what is this, my dear Savior, to see you on the Celberg, as you trembled with fear for our sins. Oh! even for me have You suffered everything, even my heavy burden of sin lays on You, the soul's fear that You felt there, I should have felt. Oh! and yet when You, my Savior, for all that you felt in my place, could now also shine for eternity with me, the poorest of all! Thousand thanks I have yet, faithful Savior, for the great good which You left for us in a Testament, on that same night that You were betrayed. That reminds us always anew on Your suffering, and each gives herself to you then gladly anew, for your eternal possession. It is completed! Thus You call, my Savior, from the Cross; yes, it is certainly completed, all Your suffering was there at an end; now You give your spirit into Your father's hands; then the Holy Head bent, and You passed away. Now I can safely say: I am reconciled with God, yes, through Your death, I am reconciled. In the spirit I see Your holy side opened with a spear; I see blood and water flow out of it, and then think: Look, my Soul, all that is for You, everything which your Savior suffered, in happened in Your place."
On her birthdayone can not say in which yearshe set out the following prayer: "Take, my most dear Savior, at the close of this year of my life, from me, Your poor child, the most warm thanks for all that which You also in this year have done for me. O, how faithfully, how sincerely You have taken me on, in what a fatherly way have You cared for me in all things! In no need have You left me alone. My condition, in which I presently find myself, is certainly of a unique sort. You have me in a quite difficult school, yet I know, it is pure faithfulness from You; You know, without doubt, that it is very good and helpful for me; I gladly want to keep still for You, even if it hurts. You want only to make everything clear for me. All my own choices I lay at Your feet, and ask you kindly, let only Your will ever happen to me! May You lead me according to Your understanding; because Your paths are always right, and speak always in pure blessing."
Another time, when she found herself in a particular predicament, she poured out her heart before the Lord in the following words: "My dearest Savior, You, to whom I always complain in every need, and poor out every worry in the faithful heart, You see my need, in which I always am. Oh do not leave me to stick here! Help me! I am so poor and miserable, and for this you promised to care. Let not your poor and sick child become tired, but rather let me see that You hear my prayers and will help me! Strengthen my confidence in you, because my belief sometimes grows weak when I do not immediately see the answering of my prayers, and yet I know that You know best the right hour in which to help.Another thing often gives me great worry, that I think, I do not stand in so confident communion with You as it should be. Oh! Even for this only You can comfort me, because Your comfort can banish all cares. And again: bless also all my dear Choir, and make every soul in it for You, for Your joy."
At the beginning of a new year, she prayed, among others: All my worries, best friend, you know. You understand me so well; it does not occur to me, what You should not know; everything, even when it is something so small, might I lament to you, and get my comfort and counsel from you. Oh how good it is to have such a friend in you, who cares for his poor weak children like a faithful father. Yes, even I can say, thus I have experienced you, and I know confidently that that I will experience you even further. Only never leave me, my good Savior, do something without You; and if I should do or say something, then give me Your fatherly counsel immediately, on the spot, in my Heart. Help me also in my worldly matters, and bless my work! Because all our deeds, when You do not lay Your blessing on them, are in vain; but with You and your merciful guidance, even the poorest and weakest child can do something. Only keep me always in close communion with You, my most dear friend, and with a heart completely and always given over to your Will, then I will pass my time in the Valley of Tears blessedly and pleased, and You will, as before, mercifully help me through all difficulties."
"Go on, and I will follow, be it through
Still more prayers to the Savior can be
found among the pieces written by our blessed Sister, which all give witness
that she knew Him as her redeemer, loved tenderly, and had an unlimited
trust in Him, thought nothing of herself, and wanted only to cling to
Him. In particular, her prayers at the close of the year and the
start of a new year were very moving: full of fiery gratitude for God's
faithful help, full of shame and humility over herself and her inadequacies,
and always accompanied with a renewed decision to live only for He that
died for us, and rightly to enjoy the jewel that He purchased for us with
His blood. Moreover, everyone who was near to her knew with what
faithfulness, diligence, and punctuality she managed her duties as Vorsteherin,
how loving and agreeable she was towards all sisters, and how tenderly
she took care of the sick and weak. And God's blessing was with
her in everything that she did, how gladly we would have seen this young,
useful sister in the service of our Lord and the Gemeine for a long time
to come, cheerful, effective, and active! In God's heart it was
decided otherwise, however. The above-mentioned circumstances laid
the ground for a Consumption, which in recent years began to appear ever
more. Only she herself did not want to believe this beginning, and
tried to calm those who showed themselves to be worried; thus it was most
difficult to move her to use something. Finally, she brought herself
to do it; but it soon proved to be too late. Meanwhile, she resumed
her affairs faithfully, so long as her ever-decreasing strength would
allow. She was normally of a somewhat excitable nature, but for
some time one had noticed a great change in her in that respect; she became
calmer, more compliant, and more patient, and she daily asked the Savior
for new mercy. In October of last year, the consumptive fever began
in earnest to take her, and she expressed a great desire soon to be relieved
and to be with Christ. On November 3, as the day of the remembrance
of the perfect Gemeine2, she woke with the first lines
of a verse that remained engraved in her memory: Perfect Gemeine,
how tenderly I love you! etc. and she expressed afterwards very dearly
how great her longing was to see herself soon in the heavenly Gemeine,
and could not imagine beautifully enough what would become of her when
she glimpsed the Savior for the first time, and thus would be given over
from Belief to Sight. As her strength left her even more, she surrendered
herself completely to the sickroom. Here she was like a quiet, calm
child. She did not talk much, complained little about pain, willingly
took her medicines, and even expressed the wish to become well again for
a while. Eight weeks ago, however, it became clear to her that she
would pass on, and then she gave all of her worldly things that she yet
had to give, with such calmness that it was as if she were taking care
of this for someone else. The last days she spoke quite a bit about
the joys that were awaiting her, but said also that she was too bad and
did not know whether the Savior would be able to take her so. He
Himself consoled her over this, and one saw that once again she serenely
and longingly waited for Him. She was very pleased when one sang
near her, and often requested that one might pray for her. The bodily
home now began to break, and she had to get through yet a few more difficult
days and nights. Early on the sixth, she received the blessing of
the Gemeine in the presence of God, and was fully conscious for it.
She lay still now, sometimes in gentle slumber. She made it through
the last difficult night, and early on the 7th, at five o'clock, she turned
pale in Jesus' arms and lap, in an extremely gentle manner. Thus
her blessed soul went over into the pierced hands of Jesus, in which she
had so child-like believed.
1 This translation is taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
Transcription and translation by Katherine E. Carté