Sometimes, when we hear of the possibility of future hard times or even persecution, our greatest concerns are for our loved ones. We know from Scripture that God is in control, that He won’t allow anything that He won’t give us the grace to handle, that the “trial of our faith” works patience and endurance in us and glorifies the Lord. From time to time we also hear testimonies of God’s keeping grace during trial.
One such book I discovered some years ago is titled One Woman Against the Reich: The True Story of a Mother’s Struggle to Keep Her Family Faithful to God in a World Gone Mad by Helmut Ziefle. Mr. Ziefle’s parents lived in Germany during WW II; in fact, he was born in April 1939. In the previous years, the Nazi regime had grown, and trials and persecutions had grown for anyone not in agreement with them. There were two older brothers and a sister already in the family before Helmut made his appearance. His brother Kurt, 11, rushed home excited one day to tell his parents he had joined the Hitler Youth Organization. His mother reminded him that he belonged first to Jesus. But he was carried away with excitement. Of course, the youth organization happened to meet at the same time the rest of the family went to church. Hitler is quoted as saying, “In my Teutonic order, a youth will grow up which will frighten the world. I want a fierce, masterful, fearless and ferocious youth. It can’t show any weakness or tenderness. The free and magnificent beast of prey must finally glow again from their eyes.” Can you imagine such a man after the young people of our homes and churches?
Maria, Helmut’s mother, had many concerns to deal with in those days: her children being carried away with Nazism; the possibility of persecution from neighbors when she did not return their “Heil Hitler;” threats against her husband; safety for herself and her family during air raids and bombings; severe scarcity of food; having a baby during all of this; the safety of her two older sons when they became old enough to go into military service, one fighting for Nazism, one against it but having to go nonetheless (the latter son ended up in a Russian POW camp for 5 years, sadly, ironically, for a cause he did not believe in); being turned out of their home so that soldiers could use it; her own poor health with phlebitis; the uncertainty of being separated from the rest of her family for a time. Yet in each situation her heart instinctively turned to her Lord. And in each situation she found Him faithful.
(This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)