The last rays of sunshine cast an orange glow on the upper levels of the old renaissance dwellings giving a bright contrast to the still blue sky above. A beautiful sunset would be on display tonight, yet no one would notice. The sounds of running shoes stomped on the cobblestone street accompanied by the heavy breathing of the wearer. The orange glow of the sunset would soon be replaced by the orange illumination of the fires of hatred and evil as the Nazi policy of racial cleansing began to spread across the Reich on November 9, 1938.
Joel, a Jewish 16 year old, ran around a corner followed by other boys who were once his friends. In the past, they ran together in games of hide and seek; now that game took a deadly twist. His friends had been indoctrinated into the Hitler Youth and wore black uniforms, black as evil itself, and they were proud of it.
Down a side alley he ran, his heart thumbing loudly and it felt like it would burst through his throat if he kept this up. With eyes wide open and his lungs burning for lack of oxygen, he pushed himself further. The alley stopped suddenly, a 90 degree turn opened to another street.
As Joel ran into the brick wall to make his turn, a shot rang out and echoed in the alley. The brick next to his face exploded sending dust and parts of brick and lead through the air. A sharp pain ripped through his check as a fragment of brick left a bloody laceration under his right eye. Running only on fear, his aching legs and feet kept a slight edge from those who were willing to betray him.
An open door! He slipped through as fast as he could. Through the rear kitchen of a dress makerís apartment he made what he hoped to be his escape. Knocking over dresses on racks and at one point a ladies hat fell on his head held down by the rushing wind. Tearing off this indignity, he ran out the front door, leaving strewn dresses and a cursing merchant.
No one was around. Everything appeared normal and Joel thought he had eluded his pursuers. Yet, fear knew where he was. He walked down the street, holding a handkerchief on his check to stop the bleeding. It was hard to look normal and not draw any attention, yet somehow, he knew he was being watched.
He crossed a bridge over the River Spree, and then fear slapped him in the face as he saw some them on the other side. They saw him and began to approach him. He turned and behind him were some more. Trapped!
A gun was brandished. Joel ran to the masonry ledge of the bridge and jumped on top of it. A shot rang out. Fearís hot finger poked though Joelís left leg as he leaped into the dark cold waters of the Spree.
Cold water swallowed Joel as the current took him away from his tormentors, yet fear followed him. After all this, now will he drown?
Joel remembered the stories of faith he heard from his father and mother. They spoke of times when they were in some sort of trouble, finances, and a brush with death of his father in the Great War. Could God do this now?
He fought to stay afloat, but the pain in his leg slowed this process down. His lungs ached for air. Fear began to grab his heart. With eyes closed and breath held, he prayed, he let go of all attempts to float, and drifted. ďOkay, Lord, if this is how you take me home, then Iím ready.Ē
Strong arms were felt bearing him up toward the waterís surface. His feet felt solid ground under him and he began fighting for survival. Hope was rising, precious air filled his aching chest, as he coughed and choked on some water. Fear chased away by faith. A second chance at life now presented itself as he crawled out of the river, alone.
As the sun set that night, the orange glow of burning synagogues and Jewish homes illuminated the night sky. Joel escaped fear that night, but many did not. Joel was so worn out that he crawled under a bush and slept the night. He would wake to a new, horrible world, a nightmare where fear was ever present. His only hope: the protective banner of Christ.
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