It’s coming up to the eleventh of November when in Britain people wear poppies to remember the many who died in the world wars. They fought bravely so others could live and enjoy freedom from tyranny.
I want to share a story taken from a book I’m reading called, Return from Tomorrow by George C Ritchie. It is a story of how one man survived in a concentration camp during the war in Germany.
George was a young American soldier whose group were assigned to a concentration camp near Wupperal to bring medical help. Thousands of men had died a little bit at a time over a period of years. Some recovered but for many it was too late.
In the camp he met a man they called Wild Bill Cody. He was one of the inmates of the concentration camp . He looked strong, his eyes bright and had plenty of energy. His compassion for his fellow prisoners glowed on his face. He was an interpreter for the soldiers who came to help. He worked long hours each day helping the work to release prisoners.
To the young soldier’s surprise he discovered that Wild Bill had been in the concentration camp for six years. He had lived on the same starvation diet, slept on the same airless and disease ridden barracks as everyone else had, but without the least physical or mental deterioration.
Wild Bill explained to the young soldier about how he came to be in the camp. He had lived in a Jewish quarter of Warsaw with his wife and five children. When the Germans came they lined everyone against a wall and opened fire with machine guns. He begged to be allowed to die with his family but because he spoke German he was put in a work group. He would be of use as an interpreter.
I had to decide right then whether to let myself hate the soldiers. I was a lawyer. In my practise I had seen too often what bitterness and hate could do to people’s minds and bodies. I decided then that I would forgive and spend the rest of my life loving each person I came in contact with. Loving each person was the power that kept Wild Bill alive and well helping others in the face of adversity.
The soldier returned home and became a medical doctor. He learned to help others and in helping others he forgot about himself. He died to his own selfish needs and discovered Christ. He learned from his war experiences to overcome hate and bitterness and to forgive.