Holocaust Survivors’ Retreat

Remembering Grace

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Reblog from embracing-grace.org

Remembering our dear Grace, who would be turning 13 this year.

During our morning devotions today, our friend Jeff shared some words from Tony Evans about trials.  It seemed very fitting for this day.

Trails can come from a number of directions. Sometimes God sends you a trial to teach you a specific lesson. At other times, it comes simply because you live in a sin-cursed world, and the curse rubs off on you. So you become the victim of a crime or accident or illness that crashes into your life. Sometimes trials are the result of your own sin. You yield to a temptation that leads to a set of circumstances that are tough to deal with. And don’t forget that the enemy can attack you with trials for the purpose of bringing about your spiritual defeat. So my concern is not so much the source of your trials, but what you do when they show up. How you respond to cataclysmic circumstances has a lot to do with what shape you’re in when you come out on the other side. (emphasis mine) The good news is, you’re not out there alone, because no matter what the source of your trial is, God has the situation well in hand. He can work out His purposes.

When you are going through a tragedy, you can either choose to run from God or towards Him.  My whole life, I had been taught to trust God even when I don’t understand – that He is loving and good, always.  So when tragedy struck our family and we lost our little Grace, I ran to Him.  And that has made all the difference.  I don’t know why we had to go through it, and I’m not sure it even matters, but I know beyond a doubt that God has brought good from it.

We are spending this week with Holocaust Survivors in Poland – people who have seen tragedy, hatred, and trials on a scale most of us can’t even begin to imagine.  They may have spent years running from God as a result.  Our purpose here is to show them the transforming power of turning around and running to Him instead.

Great Beginnings

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The Holocaust Survivors arrived from Israel yesterday and we have gotten off to a great start together. Each year has been different, but this group seems to be particularly receptive to our being here with them. I was able to get to know Natalie, who is a physician and a psychologist. I helped her with her bags when they first arrived and then got to talk with her further later in the evening. She said that her training has helped her to discern between genuine and forced expressions of love, and she felt true love and warmth when I hugged her. It is her first time here and she wasn’t sure what to expect, but now is glad she came and is looking forward to the week. Thank you, God, for pouring Your love out through me and allowing me to be your messenger.  I pray that hug will open her heart to receive so much more.

I was also able to meet Paula, who was helping Natalie and I communicate. She has an amazing testimony, which I got a preview of, but I will save that story for another post as I think she will be able to share it more fully later in the week.

Before bed, Kazik (our friend who lives in Warsaw and is a Christian-Jewish pastor teaching during this camp) met with the American team to talk about our plans for the week. He gave us a simple, but profound focus…

“Answer the question they aren’t asking.”
This is our mission.

This morning, Kazik asked each of them to introduce themselves and say a few words. There were many comments of how welcome they felt when they arrived. I made note of a few of the comments…

“We have been through all the hells there are, but now it is good.”

“It’s hard to believe that people would be so nice and warm to us.”

“I would just like there to be peace everywhere, and I am reminded that there can be peace when I am here. “

The Jewish Ghetto building in Ostróda.

He primed the week with a small story of a situation when there were many women behind him, but among them he could recognize one voice – Dorota. How could he identify her voice among so many? Because he has been listening to that voice for 40 years of marriage, in a close relationship. How can we hear the voice of God? A thought for all of us to ponder.

We visited Ostróda with them this afternoon and then met for our evening session where Kazik shared his story of becoming a Christian and then, later in life, learning that he was a Jew. Often, there is little mention of Jesus in the early days of this camp. Many are very closed to teaching that Jesus is the Messiah, and would put up a wall immediately if they felt they had been brought here to be converted.  Nevertheless, Kazik has been bold with his message right from the start this year.

It’s going to be a great week.