Her Nazi Grandfather

I lapsed into silence, I slept a lot and I wasn’t really functioning. Only afterward did I begin to analyze the situation and try to understand the characters of my mother and my grandmother. I only started to learn more about my grandmother at the end. Today I understand that I went through the process step by step, peeling away layer after layer. But in the first months I had no idea what to do.

2349077637Imagine how you would feel if you were to find out that Amon Goeth was your grandfather. He was the sadist Nazi Commandant at the Plaszow concentration camp near Krakow from 1943 to 1944 whom Ralph Fiennes portrayed in an Oscar worthy performance. I remember the scene in the movie where he would be on the verandah with his rifle and would randomly shoot people as if it were a sport.

This man murdered prisoners on a daily basis and actually trained his dogs to tear inmates to death. He shot people his office window if they appeared to be moving too slowly or resting in the yard. He even shot to death a Jewish cook because the soup was too hot. He brutally mistreated his two maids, Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig and Helen Hirsch, who, along with the other inmates, lived in constant fear for their lives.

In the movie he was attracted to Helen Hirsch, looking at her and wondering “is this the face of a rat?” At one point in the movie, Helen had resigned herself to idea that Goeth was going to kill her. “He will. I see things. We were on the roof on Monday, young Lisiek and I and we saw the Herr Kommandant come out of the house on the patio right there below us and he drew his gun and shot a woman who was passing by. Just a woman with a bundle, just shot her through the throat. She was just a woman on her way somewhere, she was no faster or slower or fatter or thinner than anyone else and I couldn’t guess what had she done. The more you see of the Herr Kommandant the more you see there are no set rules you can live by, you cannot say to yourself, “If I follow these rules, I will be safe.””

It’s hard to believe that a person could be capable of such horror. And it’s even harder to accept that you are related to such a person. This was the shocking reality for Jennifer Teege, a bi-racial woman who found out quite by accident that Amon Goeth was her grandfather.  She plucked a book from a library shelf and recognized photos of her mother and grandmother in the book.  It was then that she discovered the horrifying fact that her grandfather was Nazi butcher, Amon Goeth.  His daughter, Monika Hertwig was Jennifer’s mother. Monika had met and fallen in love with a Nigerian man. Their relationship didn’t last. Monika’s own experience in dealing with the truth about her father’s role in the Holocaust is showcased in the 2006 documentary film, The Inheritance. In the movie, Monika meets Helen Jonas-Rosenweig at the scene of the former concentration camp, the latter at first unwilling to meet the daughter of the man who terrorized her and so many others.

I am not clear on how Jennifer Teege came to be adopted. Apparently she was close to her grand-mother who committed suicide not long after she did an interview. Jennifer is convinced that had she been around when her grandfather was alive, he would have shot her because she was not a member of the master race–she didn’t have blond hair and blue eyes. Many of us would not have survived.  Jennifer shares her story in the book, My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me which she co-wrote with award-winning journalist Nikola Sellmair.

If you are interested in hearing Jennifer’s story, listen here.

Sources: The Current; Jennifer Teege; Jennifer Teege’s Longreads

Watch This Film

As a mother who lost five children, would you be able to forgive the man who killed them?  What about the bomber who killed your father–could you see yourself being friends with him?  People who have suffered unimaginable tragedies share their stories in the documentary Beyond Right & Wrong:  Stories of Justice and Forgiveness.  Watch the trailer.

If you are interested in watching the film, you can do so for free.  The great thing about this offer is that you can donate to the charity of your choice without spending a dime.  To find out more about how this works visit:  http://filmraise.com/how-it-works/#instructions

Clean Water: It Has So Many Benefits

Did you know that today 750 million people around the world have no access to clean water?

Just last night I gave my six year old son water to drink.  It was cold, clean water.  What a blessing and privilege it is to be able to drink clean water.  I cannot imagine what it would be like not to have access to clean water.  Yet, almost half the people in South Asia live with that sobering reality.   Mothers are forced to give their children dirty water to drink.  Can you believe that every minute a child dies from a water related disease?  And to make matters worse the people living in rural areas have to deal with open defecation and the lack of sanitation.  65% of them have no access to a toilet.  Yet, here in North America, the majority of us have access to more than one toilet in our homes.

We have clean water at our disposal to wash clothes, cook, bathe, etc.  I have seen images of women going to rivers to wash their clothes.  In rural India, women and girls are largely responsible for collecting the water and household sanitation so they spend most of their time fetching water, walking for hours.  This prevents many girls from going to school and exposes them to increased violence as they travel rural areas in search of water.  They are malnourished due to regular contact with contaminated water.

I grew up in Guyana so I know what it’s like not to have running water in the home and having to fetch water.  However, unlike the women and girls in India, my family and I didn’t have to walk for hours everyday.  We had a pipe in our yard and that’s where we drew our water from.  And not having running water in the home didn’t happen too often and didn’t prevent me from going to school.  Compared to the people of South Asia, I lived a privileged life even though I wasn’t convinced of that during those times when we had no electricity or running water for hours.

In South Asia, living without clean water carries health and safety risks.  In story, Water From the Rocks, the villagers used water from a pond for their crops and their cattle and to wash their clothes.  They even used it to bathe but unfortunately this caused itching and swelling.  Seeing this motivated Pastor Dayal to ask his leaders if they would be able to drill a Jesus Well in Nirdhar’s village. Thanks to the generous donations toward Jesus Wells through Gospel for Asia, they could.

208e0741-0ef9-483e-b4b2-0959321e4007The villagers were incredulous, and one of them, could hardly believe that a well could be built in the hilly area where they lived.  He feared that there might be hindrances too but nothing is impossible for the mighty God whom they served.  God knew what they needed even before they prayed in faith, asking Him to provide the water they so desperately needed.

Despite their skepticism, the local team the pastor hired to drill the well, went ahead with the project until they finally hit water.  God had come through for the villagers.  They had their well.  That meant clean water for cooking, drinking, washing and bathing.  Today fresh water flows abundantly in the Jesus Well, relieving the itching and swelling the villagers had experienced from the water in the pond.

We never thought a well would be drilled in our village. But the true need of this village was met by Gospel for Asia. We are truly thankful for it – Nirdhar

Jesus delivered Nirdhar from evil spirits and an entire village from thirst and so much more.  We have a Lord and Savior who loves us and wants to provide for our basic needs. What affects us affects Him.  He takes a personal interest in our lives.  What a comforting thought.  Through Jesus Wells, Gospel for Asia can share the unfailing love of the One who gave His precious life for them.

On World Water Day and everyday, let us give thanks to God for the clean water we are blessed to have at our disposal and to purpose in our hearts to never take this essential source of life and sustenance for granted.  Think about the men, women and children who still don’t have clean water and how you can help them by donating to Jesus Wells.  You can find out more about Gospel for Asia’s Clean Water ministry here.

Clean water has so many benefits.  It means that a mother doesn’t have to worry about her child getting sick.  It means that a woman doesn’t have to travel for hours with her daughter to fetch contaminated water and it means that a girl doesn’t have to miss school.  Clean water means changed lives.
World Water Day 2015

Sources:  The Water Project; Gospel for Asia Canada

Saachi’s Story

Sometimes we envy people who seem to have everything but we have no idea what lies behind that picture perfect veneer.  We don’t know what their lives are truly like behind closed doors and what they have to do to hold on to what they have.  I used to find myself envying women who were happily married and who had more than one child but I stopped doing so because I realize that I have a lot to be thankful for.  God has blessed me and I have every reason to be thankful and to count my blessings.

Sadly, there are women in India who have experienced so much suffering and pain. For them, there is nothing to be thankful for.  Hope eludes them and despair is their constant companion.  Worst are the women who seem to have everything going for them–like Saachi.  Her life seemed picture perfect.  She was married to a respected military officer. With his generous income from the government she had nothing to worry about.  She and their children were well taken care of.  Until something changed that would turn her ideal world upside down.

Read the rest of Saachi’s story at http://www.gfa.org/news/articles/engulfed-by-shame/ and try to imagine what it would be like to be in her shoes.

As I read this woman’s story, I was overcome by the unexpected turn her once perfect life took.  I watched as she sank deeper and deeper into despair until she thought she had found the only way out of her nightmare.  Then, God intervened through Jabeen, a Gospel for Asia missionary worker and Saachi’s life was transformed.

Find out how you can help missionaries like Jabeen tell other women like Saachi that they are precious to Him at this link:  http://www.gfa.ca/women/sponsor/.

The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing – Zephaniah 3:17

 

 

When Sister Mary Prays

And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up – James 5:15

When Sister Mary prays, results happen.  God hears her prayers and answers them. People are healed and lives are transformed.  And God is glorified.

Mary became a prayer warrior after she was healed more than ten years ago from a terribly painful stomach disease.  She and her husband had searched for a cure and had spent large amounts of money for a cure but nothing worked.  Her story sounds remarkably similar to that of the woman who diseased with an issue of blood twelve years.  Like Mary, this woman had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any.  One day, she decided that she would go to Jesus for healing.  She said in her heart, “If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole” (Matthew 9:20, 21).  In faith she reached out and touched His garment and was healed.

Unlike the woman in the Bible, Mary didn’t know anything about Jesus.  For her, there was no one who could help her.  After several years of pain and no hope of a cure, Mary planned to kill herself.  But Jesus interceded.  He spoke to her in a vision and she experienced God’s power to heal.

Since her healing, Mary has walked in faith and obedience to Jesus by praying for the people in her community.  She knew the incredible power of prayer and how it can change lives.  God worked through her to heal others like Jona.  Jona was in a terrible accident and the prognosis was that he didn’t have a chance to live. But God had other plans for Jona and He healed him.  Now Jona serves Him as a pastor and missionary, bringing others to Jesus just as he was reached by Sister Mary.  Jona vows, “I will carry this good news the rest of my life and serve Him with all my heart.”

Sister Mary is a simple woman who placed her faith and trust in God and now in faith, she is praying for the sick and suffering in her remote village in South Asia.  Watch the rest of her amazing story.  It will encourage you and move you to reach out to those who need to know about the awesome God you worship and serve.

Prayer is a very powerful tool and when it is done in faith, it can move mountains and do the impossible.  Join Sister Mary and others in praying for the people of Asia.  “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

When Sister Mary Prays

For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,
And His ears
are open to their prayers – 1 Peter 3:12

WHO: Five keys to safer food

April 7 is World Health Day and the topic for this year is Food Safety.  The World Health Organization (WHO) is working on a campaign to ensure global food safety.  Their campaign will begin in April.  You can help them by sharing the following video with your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.  It’s a fun and creative way of sharing the importance of food safety.

Unsafe food is linked to the deaths of an estimated 2 million people annually. As our food supply becomes increasingly globalized, the need to strengthen food safety systems in and between all countries is becoming more and more evident (WHO).

If you are interested in learning more about WHO’s campaigns, programmes and projects or to sign up for updates, visit their website

 

 

Persecutions in Pakistan, Jordan and Niger

I received these recent persecution and prayer alerts from The Voice of the Martyrs Canada.  Please take time to read each one.  Pray for the loved ones of those who died for their faith and pray for those who are suffering for their faith.  Visit each story’s link to find out more and to see what you can do to help.  Each one of us can make a difference.