Romans 12:15 – Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (NKJV)
I was eleven years old in Budapest during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Many Hungarians used that brief slit in the Iron Curtain to flee to the west.
For domestic as well as political reasons, my 17-year-old brother took off in the middle of a November night that year. A few days later, my parents and I left everything behind and headed west in search of my brother and a better life.
From Austria, we were shipped to England into holding camps until our turn would come to be transported to our final destination. All along, we had a search request filed with the Red Cross concerning the whereabouts of my brother, but no word came. The possibilities ranged from being shot, to being captured and imprisoned, or to having escaped and been shipped to some faraway place like Australia.
On Christmas Day, refugee families from the military base where we stayed were paired up with English families so that we could have Christmas dinner in a home rather than in the army barracks.
We were taken to the house of a kind teacher and her teenage daughter. It was a very quiet meal, since, except for a word or two, we didn’t speak each other’s language. In addition to the meal, they offered us various gifts. I ended up with the daughter’s stamp collection. Mostly through sign language, we told them that what we really wanted was to telephone my uncle in Budapest to see if he had any word about my brother. Generously, the teacher arranged the long distance call. Through tears, my uncle revealed to us that my brother was in Blackpool, England, just a couple of hours from us. Our hosts ended up crying with us.
As it turned out, instead of going to the coal mines of Blackpool, my brother came with us to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I wish that I could say that from that day on we became one big happy family, but at least that Christmas, we were given a second chance.
1 Peter 4:9 – Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. (NKJV)
Perhaps God will cross your path today with someone who would appreciate your sharing the hospitality of your home in the Spirit of Christ and Christmas.
Prayer: Dear Lord, bless those who provide shelter to the homeless in their greatest hour of need. Enable the receivers to pay forward these gifts of generosity. And dear God, we thank You for second chances freely offered to us through the Lord of second chances, Your Son, Jesus Christ, Who was once a refugee Himself, and Who understands our need for a new beginning, not only at Christmas, but through all the seasons of our lives. Help us not to squander those chances, but rather to use them to Your glory. In His name, we pray. Amen.