Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Holocaust of Souls

Since 2005, the UN has designated January 27th as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This date was chosen because it was January 27, 1945, when the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated by Soviet troops. Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that today I've decided to write a little about Schindler's List - a film based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, who helped to save 1,200 Jews from concentration camps around Poland and Germany.

I know some people complain about Schindler's List because of its well-deserved R-rating. It's a movie that may very well shock the senses with its course language, full-frontal nudity, and harsh violence, and yet, this is one of those few films where these elements really are essential to the story, and it's a story that truly needs to be told. It's important, I think, that we at least try to understand the terrors that Hitler and his Nazis wrought.

It's important for us to remember the horror of the Holocaust because it shows us something of the depth of the depravity of man's sinful heart. Left unchecked, we are prone to all manner of temptations that can quickly take us down a slippery slope to a dark, dark place if we're not careful! Remembering the millions upon millions of people who were displaced, imprisoned and slaughtered by the Nazis should encourage us, too, to learn from the mistakes of the past and see to it that something like this never happens again! (Otherwise, things might very well end up like an episode of The Twilight Zone I wrote about last year!)

Meanwhile, sharing the stories of heroes like Oskar Schindler and so many others who tried to do what was right in the face of extreme danger ought to also inspire us all the more - as our baptismal vows call us - to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves!

I am so thankful for the many brave men and women of that greatest generation who sacrificed of themselves in order to put an end to Hitler's Holocaust!

But what if I were to tell you that the holocaust isn't over?!

In 2000 and 2001, while I was a student at Asbury, I was privileged to be part of two evangelistic missionary trips to Northern Ireland. On these trips, I worked with an organization called Project Evangelism, run by a wonderful man named John Moxen, who made a huge impression on me and taught me a lot.

Back at Asbury, I was a media student and worked at the college radio station, and one day in 2002, I had the idea to interview John for a project for the radio. After organizing our schedules to adjust for the huge time difference and borrowing equipment so I could record from my dorm room, I spent probably an hour or more on the phone with John, talking about his ministry. Then, at the end of the call, he had one last thing he wanted to share with me - something that had been on his mind for a while, he said - and it's something I think about every time I even think about Schindler's List or the Holocaust:
"Some time ago, I went to see Schindler's List. Coming from a Jewish background, I was very interested to see how much Jewish blood there was in me! What did I respond to? Did I respond to the music? Did I respond to the suffering?

"And on the way out, I shall never forget the vivid picture that had flashed in my mind. I watched that film, seeing the Jews being herded into cattle trucks like animals, the dogs barking, and the SS shouting, arriving at the concentration camps, being driven into what they thought to be showers, stripped naked - clothes lying, shoes lying, bags lying - and naked they went into the showers, which tragically turned out to be gas chambers, where many of them died in a holocaust of [millions of] people.

"Why didn't someone stop them? Why didn't someone say something? The smell of human flesh must have wafted across the country from these concentration camps where the bodies were burned, and it seemed nobody would do anything or say anything! It seemed as though there was a conspiracy of silence!

"And I watched the people pour out of that theater.

"It seemed to me that the Holocaust of Souls was still continuing - not so much of Jewish people, but of people going out into a lost eternity, without hope and without God!

"And God challenged me deeply, concerning reaching out and being more committed and being able to reach more people, and I trust that as you hear my voice, that he'll challenge you. Oh, that the Lord might open our eyes to see men and women marching toward a lost eternity - the continued Holocaust - as men and women are lost and without hope and without God! May we go out and reach them, and bring them to the faith!"
Today, I want to challenge you.

I want to challenge you not to forget the lessons of the past.
- Take a moment to remember just how evil Evil can be when we let it have its reign.
- Take a moment to remember just how good Good can be when we stand up for what is right.
- Remember the millions who sacrificed, suffered and died to teach us these lessons so well!

But like John, I also want to challenge you to consider the millions today - the billions - who are marching toward an eternity in Hell. Jesus said, "The gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it." (Matthew 7:13)

Make up your mind today to do something - to SAY something - to get involved before it's too late instead of standing by and acting like there's nothing wrong! We have been given a wonderful blessing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ - the opportunity to get off the road to destruction and truly make things right with God!
"For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?"
- Romans 10:13-14
Just imagine standing on the Judgment Day, and seeing people turned away who would say, "I would have believed, if only you had told me! If you knew the truth, why didn't you ever warn me?!" What an awful thing that would be!

Who do you know who needs to hear the Good News? Who do you need to warn? Who can you help to change the direction of their life today, while there's still time?

One of the most powerful moments in Schindler's List comes near the end, when the war is ending and it's time for Schindler to leave. Liberation is near for the 1,200 Jews who worked in his factory, and the people turn out to show their gratitude and see him off. But Oskar doesn't puff himself up because of all the good he has done - instead, he breaks down, wishing that he had done still more! He thinks of the money that was wasted that could have gone to saving more lives. He wonders aloud why he didn't sell his car and other possessions to save more people. Finally, he breaks down in tears...

     "I could have got more...
          Ten more people...
               Two more people...
                    One more person - a person!"

"I could have gotten ONE MORE person, and I didn't!"

Are you doing everything you can today to lead people in the way of salvation?

What more could you give?!

No comments :

Post a Comment

Please comment on this post. Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Is there something I left out or should have covered? Was something confusing? I want to know what you think!