On a bus ride in Israel
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It is amazing to discover that a bus ride can turn into a great miracle ride ordained by the Master.
In 1991 my wife and I lived in Israel and daily rode the bus to the center of Jerusalem. As we rode to our destination we would study Hebrew and pray for divine appointments. Most of these bus rides were uneventful and we would arrive at our destination to visit with Russian Jewish families. We always had a wonderful time sharing the gospel message with these new arrivals from the former Soviet Union.
On one particular day we were riding the bus with a mother and her daughter from the Ukraine. We were sitting in seats that faced one another, and having a great time sharing stories about our lives in our respective countries. Suddenly, a voice broke in speaking Hebrew, asking one of us to change places with her as she wanted to sit where one of us were seated. At first I was irritated, but tried not to let it show and gave up my seat for this woman.
The Ukrainian mother that was with us spoke Russian, Ukrainian and Polish. As it turned out, this woman also spoke Polish, and a conversation began, with my wife and I needing translation which the Ukrainian daughter supplied. My wife noticed that this new woman, whose name was Rachel, had a tatoo on her left forearm. We asked Rachel, through our interpreter, where she worked, and she told us that she worked at the Hebrew University binding books. When Rachel's stop came, we all said goodby and went on our way.
As we got off at our destination in Jerusalem, I told my wife that I felt impressed to buy a dozen roses and take them to Rachel. We found a flower shop on King George Street and bought a dozen red roses. We boarded another bus and headed toward the Hebrew University. As we arrived there, we sought to find out where Rachel worked. Unfortunately, as it turned out, there were two Hebrew Universities, and, we had forgotten to get Rachel's last name. Rachel is a common name in Israel and our description didnt help the registrar who was helping us to find her there.
We boarded another and rode to the other Hebrew University. We were hoping that this trip would yield results. As we approached the registrar, we asked her if she knew Rachel. She replied that she did not remember a Rachel working at this University. She asked us for a contact phone number and promised to call us if she found Rachel, but she sounded doubtful that Rachel worked there. We gave her the dozen red roses which were starting to wilt in the heat, and told her she could have them. As we left the University, my wife and I said to one another, "well at least we tried".
Later in the evening, we received a phone call from the registrar saying she had found Rachel. It turned out that she worked in the basement and she bound antique books for the University. The Registrar gave her the roses and gave her our names and phone number.
Miracle of miracles, Rachel had her son call us and invite us over for tea. When we arrived at her simple apartment, her son greeted us and told us he would be our interpreter. She thanked us for the roses and then asked us about ourselves. After telling her about ourselves, Rachel began to tell us her story. She was from Poland and was a young married mother with two sons when Germany invaded Poland. The Germans were now rounding up all the Jews in Poland to take them to concentration camps. The Jews thought that they were being resettled to another location to start life again. Rachel, her husband and two small children were loaded on to cattle cars and shipped to Auchwitz. Upon arrival, she and her children were immediately separated from her husband, who was herded with the other men who had been unloaded from the trains. One of her sons broke away from his mother and ran to join his father and was promptly shot in the head by an SS officer. The father ran to his bleeding son and was shot by the same SS officer. Rachel's remaining son ran to his father and brother and was also shot dead. Rachel began to cry as she remembered that terrible day.
We were stunned to and in silence while hearing this unexpected story. One of my pursuits for many years was researching the stories about the holocaust. I had never met a holocaust survivor in my life, and was very moved by the courage and enduring spirit of Rachel who had survived this hell on earth. I asked her how she managed to go on living after this horror of horrors. She paused for a moment and told us she began to make up songs in her head and sing them during her ordeal at Auchwitz. She then asked us if we wanted to hear some of these songs that had sustained her during those years. After singins a few of her songs in Polish, we sat in stunned silence wondering how anyone could go through this ordeal and survive.
As we got up to go, she told us that this son, who was translating for us, was from a marriage after the war. He had been born in the new nation of Israel. We could see in his eyes just how much he loved this precious woman who was his mom. He was very proud of her, and it showed as he stood beside her, holding her close to his side. We said goodby and asked if we could come and see her again and she said she would love to have us come again.
We visited Rachel several times during our time in Israel and each visit was more special than the one before. On our last visit to see Rachel we went to her son's home for her birthday. Whle ther I took a chance to broach a delicate subject for most holocaust survivors. I asked her if she still believed in God after what she had endured? She paused for a long time, processing this vital but painful question. She replied that she wasn't sure she did believe in Him anymore. I don't know if it was the lights in the house or a hopeful light in her spirit but I saw it and said to her, "Rachel, I know you still believe because I see a glimmer of light in your eyes". She again paused for a while and said, "I know your right, I do still believe in God". We brought her the book, "The Hiding Place", by Corrie Ten Boom which was translated into Hebrew and told her Corrie's story. She accepted the book gladly and thanked us for being her special friends. We then shared with her about our faith in God's only Son, the Jewish Messiah, and told her why He came.
That was the last time we saw Rachel but we still cherish our special divine appointment that led to a special friendship. Rachel died a year later. Her son wrote us in the States and told us how much our time with her had meant to her and that she loved and missed us.
My wife and I have tried to be sensitive to those "small nudges" of the Holy Spirit that are so easy to dismiss. His still small voice is still easily missed by our busy earthly activities, that seem so important to us. I have missed heeding His still small voice at times and came to regret it. But I know that in yielding to Him, miracles still happen.
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Another lovely testimony. What a beautiful story about Rachel. No one knows the inner agony of another, unless you connect to them. So many just pass by not knowing the suffering of another. Sometimes the harsh or hard face of someone is only a cover up of many inner wounds....may the Lord continue to help us all to see the inner person. Keep writing friend.
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