11 – 14 June 09
For many years I have had an indifferent attitude towards Israel and the Jews, in fact, the subject didn’t interest me at all and left me cold. A few years ago my attitude changed. I began to look into the foundation of the new state of Israel. At the same time I began to see the importance of the meaning of the Jews as God’s chosen people for us Gentiles. As a result when I saw Werner Woiwoide’s invitation to visit Israel this year, I had the impression that now was the time for me to go. I didn’t have any special expectations. I simply wanted to be open and experience this part of the history of God’s people.
On the first day we visited the concentration camp known as Auschwitz 1, which houses the actual museum. The unimaginable events which occurred here are recorded in historical documents and pictures. Despite the hundreds of people that flowed through the exhibition like a never-ending stream, I was able to find peace in Jesus Christ and could let some of the historical documents move me.
On the second day, full of these impressions we visited Auschwitz 2 in Birkenau. Here, for the first time, the gruesome work of the SS-Nazis unfolded itself before my eyes. The unimaginable size of this concentration camp, as seen from the watchtowers in the centre of the camp, left me speechless. As I followed the several hundred meter long ramp that the prisoners used to climb down from the transport trains, I tried to imagine what they were confronted with as they arrived. One way led alongside the electrified fence direct to the gas chambers. This was the way the women and children were forced to take, direct from the ramp to their death. I went some of the way along this death route, surrounded by the women and children, – yet alone with Jesus, who was also led as a Lamb to be slaughtered.
During this time, my thoughts repeatedly asked the question: is what happened here really possible? My heart cried out helplessly to our heavenly Father.
For our two-day visit, only a few hours were planned with official activities, the rest of the time “we were left to ourselves”. Before embarking on this trip I couldn’t quite imagine that – however, on both days, I would have preferred to have had more quiet time with Jesus in order to try to fathom the dimensions of what had happened here.
Although I had had no particular expectation from this two-day visit, I knew that God wanted to do something new in me, to set me free. Before we left God had given me the picture of a camping stove, whose jets were covered by a protective lid. I saw how this lid was removed. However, I had no idea what that was supposed to mean. Today I know because I was able to experience it personally. God opened my heart for people and gave me during this time that for which I had prayed for many years. He changed my prayer life so that the people who were entrusted to me became the centre of my prayers. He moved the emphasis of my prayers from the situation to the individual people themselves. Today I am able to pray and intercede with joy and love for people who I hardly know. Today I am prepared to phone people to find out how they are, something that I only did previously under exceptional circumstances. Yes, I am thrilled at what my heavenly Father has done in my heart. And I believe he wants to do more in this area, and I want remain connected to him, too. I am so happy that I have ventured into this area of the unknown. Praise the Lord!