The Friends in Krakau/Auschwitz – 10/2013

Krakau

God placed Israel on our hearts a long time ago. In May of 2013 our Friends of Jesus Hall hosted a conference with Jobst Bittner (TOS Tübingen), and the topic “The Veil of Silence” encouraged us to plan a trip to Krakau. In the beginning of October, 40 Friends of Jesus staff accompanied by 3 friends, set out to lodge in a small Catholic house on the outskirts of Krakau.

Arriving in Krakau we met our friend, Viola. She lives in Krakau and has a ministry for Holocaust survivors in Israel and Belarus. With love and action Viola and her team provide for these survivors who have lost everything and many of them still live in poverty. It’s been our privilege to financially support her ministry on a regular basis and serve them that way.
Viola is a tour guide in Krakau and showed us Kazimierz, the Jewish district of Krakau. We toured Kazimierz on Shabbat and the streets were full of Jewish people, impressive synagogues, and Jewish music coming from some of the stores. It felt like being in Israel. Next we visited the former Jewish ghetto where we had a powerful encounter with a Jewish couple at the very place where the Jews had been deported. They suddenly stood in the midst of our group when we were praying in German. It was very emotional when we began to speak to them; they told us about their past, their family history, and the family members they lost in the Holocaust.
We felt the nearness of the Lord as we spoke with this couple. We were able to empathize the feelings of these people a little bit more in that special situation. They both were no messianic jews, so it has been a privilege for us to talk to them this way. God gave that we could emrace afterwards – Thank you Jesus.den, wie sich diese Menschen fühlen. Die beiden waren keine messianischen Juden und es war ein Vorrecht für uns, so mit ihnen sprechen zu können. Gott schenkte uns, dass wir uns abschließend gegenseitig in die Arme nehmen konnten – danke Jesus.

 

 

Auschwitz / Birkenau

Visiting the concentration camp Aushwitz-Birkenau was the focus of our trip. We were shaken and deeply moved as we saw what a man without God is capable of doing. Remarkably, on the day of our guided tour, there were several groups of young Israelis also visiting the camp. With tears in their eyes they carried Israeli flags on their shoulders, and their mourning evoked simultaneous feelings of love for them and, as Germans, guilt for what had been done. Our experience further demonstrates that as Christians and as Germans we have a unique responsibility towards Israel. In the end we drove back home with a deeper understanding about the special calling of Israel and a longing to love and serve God’s people with all of our hearts.