Living Like Jesus: Radical Grace From the Book of Romans (8:33-37)

by | Apr 15, 2020 | Christ-in-me, Christ-in-us, Example, Grace, Radical Grace From the Book of Romans

“And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us-who was raised to life for us!-is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us.” Romans 8:33-37 (MSG)

One lone lady, a health worker named Irena, did the impossible during World War II. She was living in Warsaw and had experienced the atrocities in the Warsaw Ghetto. These poor people were condemned to death, and she knew she had her work cut out for her. After all, this is what Jesus would do!

First Irena succeeded in obtaining a pass from the Warsaw Epidemic Control Department, which permitted her to visit the Ghetto daily. She did way more than visit, however. When she visited, she also brought food, medicine and clothing.

Disease and malnutrition were responsible for more than 5,000+ ghetto deaths per month. Being unable to make an appreciable difference in the death rate, she decided that she would try to save as many Jewish children as possible.

Her hardest task was to convince parents to part with their children. In her dreams, she could hear the cries of these desperate parents. Her second hardest task was to find families who would be willing to shelter Jewish children. These families would be risking their own lives if ever the Nazis found out.

Undaunted, Irena began smuggling children out of the Ghetto. She recruited people from the Social Warfare Departments who issued hundreds of false documents with fake signatures.

She used different ways to smuggle these children out of the Ghetto. Some went out in ambulances. Some in gunnysacks and body bags. Some were buried inside loads of goods. A mechanic took a baby out of his toolbox. Some were placed in coffins. Some even came through a church that was positioned so that it had one door opening on the Ghetto and one opening into the Aryan side of Warsaw.

She was able to get the church to assist her in hiding many of these poor Jewish children. They were placed in homes, orphanages and convents, and she cautiously noted in code form the children’s original names and their new identities. She hid these in jars buried near an apple tree in a neighbour’s yard with the hope that one day she would be able to bring these children back to their families.

In the end, she was able to smuggle over 2,500 children to safety. 2,500 Children! Wow! Right under the nose of the Nazis! Hurray!

The Nazis eventually became aware of her activities, and on October 20, 1943 she was arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo, who broke her legs and feet. Despite this, no one could break her determination. She refused to betray her associates and she adamantly refused to betray the Jewish children in hiding. She was sentenced to death, but somehow some Germans were bribed and Irena was able to escape from prison.

When the war was over, she carefully dug up the jars and used her notes to track down the 2,500 children. Her goal was to reunite these children with their families. Unfortunately most of the parents had been sent into death camps.

Irena never considered herself a hero. All she could say is: “I could have done more!” She passed away on May 12, 2008. She was 98 years old.

May I remind us of the Bible text that introduced this true story? “And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us-who was raised to life for us!-is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us.” Romans 8:33-37 (MSG)

Is this our reality as well?

Rob Chaffart

(To access the entire “Radical Grace From the Book of Romans” devotional series, please click here.)

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Living Like Jesus: Radical Grace From the Book of Romans (8:33-37)

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