Shalom & greetings from Oświęcim
INTERVIEW WITH MERRILL BOLENDER (2)
INTERVIEW WITH AIJA KIM
INTERVIEW WITH MERRILL BOLENDER
INTERVIEW WITH WERNER ODER
Our 17th annual conference „From Holocaust to Living Hope” took place from the 21st to the 24th of August.
It was a wonderful and blessed time when we could listen to very interesting lectures about Israel and our daily life with God.
Most of all it was also a time when we, as the Church from many different nations, took part in the fulfilling of the vision of gathering the church at the selection point to humble ourselves before the Lord who hasn’t forgotten the blood that was shed at this very place. Exactly there we, as the church from many different nations, repented of all the sin of anti-Semitism, past and present, and by the celebrating of the Lord’s Supper we declared God’s victory and forgiveness for the church and the nations by the blood that “speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Heb. 12:24).
One of the most beautiful moments during the conference was a Saturday night concert of a famous and highly regarded Korean pianist – Aija Kim.
We would like to invite you to our next year’s conference that will take place from the 20th to the 23rd of August 2015.
Visit of a group from Germany
On the 30th of July, with a group from the Bible school “Gateways Beyond Herrnhut” in Germany we met to pray and celebrate the Lord’s Supper at the selection point in the former German death camp KL Auschwitz-Birkenau. It was a very special and blessed time of humbling ourselves before the Lord and repenting of the sins of anti-Semitism. It was also a time of joy, especially at the end of the meeting when we sang “Am Israel Chai” (The nation of Israel is alive) and a small group of Israeli tourists joined us. We blessed them together and they thanked us with tears in their eyes for our attitude towards Israel, particularly now when the nation and State of Israel is experiencing such a difficult situation.
Visit of a group from Cyprus
We all experience moments when the presence of God is very real, when we feel that something exceptional is taking place, when we see that the place and moment in time we are in is full of God’s anointing.
As the Shalom Ministry Association in Oswiecim we were able to host an international group of young people who came from the Bible school “Gateways Beyond Cyprus” in Cyprus. Together with these young people, whose hearts are on fire for Christ, we asked God at the selection point in Birkenau for forgiveness for the shedding of innocent blood that took place there. It was evident that the hearts of these young people were deeply affected by everything that took place here, so many years ago. We were able to celebrate the Lord’s supper together. This was a tremendous spiritual experience for them.
In the afternoon the whole group took part in a prayer meeting in the office of Shalom Ministry Association in Oświęcim. Each one poured out their hearts in prayer and song. God’s presence was very real. We were aware of the powerful working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It was such a unique, amazing experience that many cried tears of joy and gratitude.
We are grateful to God for our time together and for all that we were able to receive from Him.
For the 26rd time we took part in the “March of the Living” on April 28, 2014. This year we remembered in a special way the 70th anniversary of the transportation of Hungarian Jews to the extermination camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Within 2 months about 430,000 of them were murdered there.
To commemorate this event during the “March of the Living” a special train traveled from Budapest to Oświęcim with many Jews and non-Jewish friends to demonstrate their oneness and support. As representatives of the Shalom Ministry Association in Oświęcim we were able to greet the passengers of this special train as they arrived.
This time more than 10,000 people from more than 50 nations of the world took part in the “March of the Living”. They were mostly Jewish but also many non-Jewish friends who all walked together in strong oneness, support and understanding.
As always, the largest group was from Israel, who represented many social and governmental organizations of their country.
Our group “Polish Friends of Israel” who we, as the Shalom Ministry in Oświęcim, have been organizing for many years also took part in the “March of the Living”.
It was a time when we could once again show our support, understanding and solidarity for so many Jewish people, especially those who lived through the Holocaust as they remembered their pain.
The Aaronic blessings printed in English and Hebrew that we gave out deeply touched the hearts of many who received them. It was a time, not only for remembering the past, but also to bless and comfort one another and build many friendships that we will always remember.
Please have a look at the pictures from this year’s March.
The selection point in Auschwitz-Birkenau is a place where Jewish people, transported from all of Europe, had their humanity taken away. At this place it was decided for every prisoner whether they would live or die. That’s why we, as the Shalom Ministry Association in Oświęcim, meet at this place to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Repenting for the outpouring of innocent blood, we ask God for forgiveness and cleansing of the sin of the nations.
On the 19th and 26th of April we met here with a group from Herrnhut, Germany and Czech as well as an international group C4I – Christians for Israel. It was a time blessed by God as we prayed together before the throne of God, believing that through the blood of Jesus this place will be cleansed. Our guests were deeply moved by the atmosphere at this place and cried out from their hearts to God for forgiveness. An especially emotional moment came as a Dutch Jewish lady read out the names of her relatives who were murdered here and the response of Sisters and Brothers from the Evangelical Sisterhood and Brotherhood in Darmstadt, asking for forgiveness.
By taking part in the vision of gathering the church from different nations at the selection point we are able to experience reconciliation, cleansing and freedom through the power of the holy blood of Jesus.
Meetings with Werner Oder
The year 1943, the myth of the undefeatable German army is increasingly overthrown. Hope of victory begins to form in the hearts of the defeated nations, although complete victory is still not in sight and it’s impossible to foresee the final results. On the eastern front two giants stand face to face, exchanging blows. Who will be victorious? Nature and the extreme winter conditions are to the clear advantage of the Russians. More and more often the German soldiers and leaders ask themselves the question; “Does the Führer know what he’s doing and will his run of successes continue?”
On the 6 th of October, 1943 Himmler leads two meetings with the leaders of the SS and NSDAP, at which he makes a secret speech. He tries to reach the psyche of his listeners, fanatic psychopaths blindly obedient to their leader, Himmler. He explains to them the need of murdering Jewish women and children. This is the first time he speaks so openly about this. Why? At that time 3 million Jews had already been murdered in the “Reinhardt” operation at the end of 1942/beginning of 1943. As a result, there were practically no Jews left in all of Poland. Himmler probably wanted his subordinates to realize that they all shared responsibility for what had taken place and didn’t have any other choice than to lead to the end result what they had undertaken.
Millions of people took part in this madness, each of them individual pieces in the satanic puzzle. One of these wholehearted fanatics was Wilhelm Oder, who was assigned to Rabka in Poland, where he, as the director of the Nazi police school, trained SS men and Ukrainians how to kill their innocent victims in cold blood. Oder was an expert in the technique of killing by gunshot in the back of the head. He was brought to trial and convicted after the war. By destroying the lives of others he also destroyed, in a certain sense, his closest family. His son, Werner Oder, who is now a pastor in England, when he speaks often makes mention of the horror and curse of his father’s life which also had its effect on him. Today Werner is free and happy in Jesus Christ, freed from the cage of demonic bondage into which his own father forced him. As a pastor and born again person Werner wants to repair and, in some way, make amends for what his father did. He has been to Poland several times, visited Rabka, taken part in the yearly international conferences of the Shalom Ministry Association in Oświęcim, where at the selection point he asked God and the participants in the conference for forgiveness for the shedding of innocent blood, for which the nations are guilty. Just recently Werner met with the Jewish community in Poznań at the 70 th anniversary of Himmler’s speech, which took place there. In the synagogue, which the Nazis made into a swimming pool, Werner, as a pastor, but especially as a child of an executioner, asked all the guests for forgiveness for all that his father did. It was a noble moment, an unforgettable experience for everyone present. The rest of the program took place in the Jewish community center and Werner was also involved. The leader of the Jewish community in Poznan, Alicja Kobus, said that it wasn’t easy to stand before Werner, but that she saw that he, too, was a victim of the crimes of his father.
In Poznań Werner Oder, together with friends from Christian churches in Poland, Germany, England and Israel put together a paper in which they replace the words Himmler said there with new words full of blessing to all Jewish people.
A few days earlier Werner had a meeting in a school in Katowice, where he was able to share his life story with a large group of young people which resulted in much interest and enthusiasm. The darkness and cursing that Werner struggled with reached the hearts of the young people. They will be able now to read his book “Battling with Nazi Demons”, which he wrote and gave several copies to the school through the Shalom Ministry Association in Oświęcim.
One of the main reasons for Werner’s visit to Poland this year was his idea that Jews who lived through the Holocaust in Ukraine would be able to come to our country, to Rabka, to be able to rest and be treated in one of the sanitariums there. It’s amazing how God can bring good from what the enemy wanted to destroy. Today 12 Jews from Ukraine, thanks to Werner’s personal involvement, the Rabka Baptist Church and the Shalom Ministry Association in Oświęcim, are able to rest in Rabka and focus on and think about something completely different than they once would have.
On Monday, 08.10.2013, there was another meeting with Werner at the offices of the Shalom Ministry Association in Oswiecim where he was interviewed by the “Voice of the Gospel” from Warsaw.
Werner Oder, as he himself says, became a new, happy person through Jesus Christ – the Jewish Messiah. He is a friend of Israel who fights for exposing the whole truth about the Holocaust. He exposes anti-Semitism, which continues to control so many people, and calls the church to stand in the gap and pray for Israel. By speaking, being interviewed and through his book and life story Werner also helps Polish people to have the right perspective on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, which is still such a big problem in our society. Werner Oder often mentions that he knows what a high cost Poles paid during the second world war, that in Poland people risked their lives and the lives of their families to help Jews. The Ulm family is one such example. More trees in Yad Vashem, planted for those who helped the Jews, belong to Poles than to any other nation. Werner is also aware of the strong resistance movement which condemned to death and executed those who cooperated and spied, not only on the Poles but on the Jews. He says that the greatest evil, however, was the apathy, not only in Poland but worldwide, about the fate of the Jews. Now the church needs to be active and can’t be apathetic towards every sign of anti-Semitism, so that the Holocaust might never be repeated. Werner Oder is a living example of how God works and can change someone’s heart to be filled with His love.