A Story of Faith

I read an interesting story this morning from a book titled, When God Winks on Love: Let the Power of Coincidence Lead You to Love,” (2004) by SQuire Rushnell (and, yes, the “Q” is capitalized in his name), a popular speaker and New York Times bestselling author who coined the term Godwink,” now in mainstream usage.

The story is found in a chapter titled, “Meant To Be,” with a subtitle of “Jeannette & Meyer: A Story of Faith,” on pp. 177-185. Here is that story:

In the following story, Jennette and Meyer had to endure more than ever should be expected of two human beings living in a civilized society. Yet, as I suspect you will agree, they were intended for each other.

“Oh, Meyer, I do love you,” whispered eighteen-year-old Jennette on her wedding day.

Her love for Meyer was growing everyday. He was older, stronger, and made her feel safe. he was a kind man who loved talking about having children and a family. And, she admired how he had helped so many others, smuggling them across borders, escaping death.

Jennette and Meyer said their marriage vows in Budapest, Hungary, a safe haven–they thought–from the atrocities that were happening to other Jewish citizens in their native Poland and other countries occupied by the Nazis.

It was 1943.

While still in Poland, Jennette was narrowly sent, on several occasions, to Auschwitz, a notorious concentration camp where over two million people perished. But each time, the buses filled up, and by coincidental timing, she was left behind.

Jennette then fled to Hungary where she met and fell in love with Meyer Ehrlich.

Only weeks after their marriage, Jennette was able to tell her husband the joyful news that she had felt the stirrings of a baby inside her body. Anxious to father a child, Meyer was thrilled.

But Hungary was not safe.

The Germans ominously moved into the country and assumed control without firing a single shot. Again, Jewish people were being rounded up and taken away.

Several months into her pregnancy, Jennette and Meyer were dining one night in a restaurant. Hungarian police marched in and ordered identification from various customers. Jennette’s heart stopped as they demanded to look at Meyer’s papers.

“He may be an underground terrorist,” said on officer.

“Take them in,” commanded another.

At the police station, it was determined that Meyer would be sent to Munich to be put on “trial”–which everyone knew was only for show–and that his fate almost certainly meant that he would be sent to another horrid concentration camp, Dachau, where most prisoners were put to death.

Noticing that Jennette was pregnant, the police ordered her to remain behind for “questioning.” Jennette was terrified. Yet, from the moment she saw her husband being jostled away by authorities, she never doubted that he would survive.

She prayed. And she had faith.

Meyer had told her about his earlier survival, before they had met, from his incarceration in Auschwitz, and subsequently at another labor camp; how he and a group of others had been shot in their escape, and how he was able to get away despite a bullet wound to the neck.

He would survive, she believed.

Jennette saw an opportunity to sneak away from the jail.

She ran.

In Budapest she was able to make contact with someone who said they could help her get to Romania. Now, at nearly full-term pregnancy, she was smuggled across the border with a small group of others. In Romania they felt great relief when they saw a Jewish name on a house.

They knocked.

“Quickly–come in,” said the owner, looking in both directions.

Leading them inside, he said, “Make yourself comfortable. Take a bath and have something to eat. I must go out. I will be back with more food.”

Within the hour police burst through the door and arrested them. To protect himself, the owner had betrayed them.

Jennette was taken to a camp.

Again, she saw a way to escape.

Again, she ran.

She encountered a lady taxi driver who offered to take her to the docks.

“Someone will help you,” she was assured. “They will take you secretly aboard a livestock ship to Constanta.”

The ship would take her to the Romanian seaport through mine fields in the Black Sea.

As the ship sliced through dark waters, Jennette could see the shattered remains and debris from an earlier ship that had detonated a mine, spilling its passengers into the cold depths of the Black Sea.

She began to feel labor pains.

Ill-equipped to assist in the birth of a baby, the captain sent out a coded signal. Another boat came alongside, and took Jennette ashore in Turkey. There, because she was Jewish, she was made to sign papers that when the baby was born it would not be identified as a Turkish citizen. At a nursing home, she gave birth to a boy. His name was Charles.

Told she could remain in Turkey for only one month without a visa, Jennette made her way back to Israel. She took training and became a nurse.

A few months later her hopes soared when a small box came in the mail. But when she opened it, her dreams plummeted. Inside were Meyer’s personal effects…and ashes.

“He is dead,” said a friend of Jennette’s. “No one escapes Dachau.”

“No. He is a survivor,” said Jennette, with conviction, while choking back tears, “I do not believe those are his ashes. I believe he is still alive.”

Nearly two years passed.

Another man who had once been with Jennette in one of the small groups smuggled to safety had also found his way to Israel. He name was Bernard Teichtal. Long attracted to her, Bernard now professed that he had fallen in love with her.

“Will you marry me, Jennette?” asked Bernard.

She declined.

Later, Bernard repeated his request.

Jennette’s friends were insistent.

“Jennette, your intuition is wrong. Meyer is gone. You are being foolish. Bernard is a good man. He loves you. Marry him.”

Reluctantly, she said she’d consider it.

Jennette suggested that Bernard find an apartment, and used other excuses to delay a decision. Deep in her heart she believed–she hoped–that it was her friends who were wrong, not her. For, every time she looking into the eyes of her twenty-two-month-old baby, she could see the face of her husband.

When her friends became relentless, Jennette finally accepted Barnard’s proposal and set a date for the wedding.

Four weeks before the ceremony, Jennette was waiting at the bus stop on her way to work. She noticed a Red Cross flyer that was posted there. Written in Hebrew, it said the Allies had freed the prisoners of Dachau and listed notices of people who had been separated from their loved ones.

Jennette’s mouth dropped as she read: “Meyer Ehrlich, Munich, looking for his wife.”

She fainted.

People at the bus stop rushed to her aide: “Poor thing. She hasn’t had breakfast–look how thin she is,” they said.

Jennette came to.

She looked at the poster again.

She fainted again.

It was almost beyond belief–her faith that her husband Meyer was still alive was rewarded!

“I am so happy!” she said.

Jennette quickly contacted her fiancé Bernard and told him that she was sorry, but the wedding had to be called off. She told her friends that she had to find a way to get to Munich.

She packed her bags, bundled up baby Charles, and made her way to Paris. There she was told that there was one train that could take her to Munich. She bought tickets.

But the train failed to stop in Munich. There was no way to get off. Like it or not, Jennette was bound for Vienna.

Options raced through her mind. She had endured so much. To be so close to her beloved husband, and not to succeed in reaching him, simply wasn’t an option.

She was determined.

When the train slowed to a stop ten miles outside of Munich to take on water, Jennette seized her opportunity. Tightly holding her baby, she slipped unnoticed from the train, leaving all her belongings behind.

For several hours she dodged oncoming trains, and stumbled on rocks and railroad ties.

“Momma,” said little Charlie, “I would like to have a piece of bread.”

“Just a little further, my baby, and you will have all the bread you want.”

Darkness was falling as Jennette and little Charlie made it into Munich. Someone directed her to the home of Meyer’s brother, only to receive another disappointment: Meyer–in his search for her–had gone to Paris.

His brother immediately sent Meyer a telegram.

In a matter of days, her prayers came to pass. Jennette, her baby, and Meyer were back in each other’s arms. And that is where they remained for many happy years to come.

Jennette and Meyer moved to America, had two more children–a brother and sister for Charles.

Still speaking with a slight accent, Jennette says, “I love this country. Every day I say a prayer to God to say thank you.”

In 1990, twenty years after relocating to America, Meyer died.

Seven years later Jennette saw Bernard Teichtal, the man she left at the altar. It was a brief conversation. He was dying of cancer.

“I always loved you,” Bernard told her. “I never married. And, because I was with you during your pregnancy, I always thought of Charlie as my own child.”

It was a bittersweet closing to another chapter in Jennette’s life. But, more heartfelt then most, she can attest to the power of Godwinks that arise from a deep and and determined faith.

Jennette never doubted that she and Meyer were bashert–intended for each other. (Bashert is a Yiddish word that means “destiny”. It is often used in the context of one’s divinely predestined spouse or soulmate. It can also be used to express the seeming destiny of an auspicious or important event, friendship, or happening. In modern usage, Jewish singles will say that they are looking for their bashert, meaning they are looking for that person who will complement them perfectly, and whom they will complement perfectly. Quote source here.) (Story quote source: “When God Winks on Love,” pp. 177-185.)

In Matthew 17:20, Jesus told his disciples, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” That is the kind of faith Jennette had in the story above. And it is the kind of faith we can have, too, if we will only believe and not doubt or give up.

So what exactly is “mustard seed” faith? GotQuestions.org gives us the answer:

Faith is so vital to the Christian life that Scripture tells us that, without it, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Yet faith is such a powerful gift from God (Ephesians 2:8–9) Christ told His disciples that, with just a tiny measure of it, the size of a mustard seed, they could move mountains. So, what does it mean to have “mustard seed faith”?

We see the reference to “mustard seed faith” twice in Scripture. First, in Matthew 17:14–20, we see Christ’s disciples unable to exorcise a demon from a young boy, even though Jesus had previously given them the authority to do this very thing (Matthew 10:1). When they inquired of Jesus why they were not able to drive the demon out, the Master replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move; Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:14–20). Next, in Luke 17:6, Jesus tells His disciples, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” By using the uncommonly small mustard seed as an example, Jesus is speaking figuratively about the incalculable power of God when unleashed in the lives of those with true faith.

We know that this statement about moving mountains and uprooting trees by faith is not to be taken literally. The key to understanding the passages is the nature of faith, which is a gift from God. The power of faith reflects the omnipotent nature of the God who bestows faith on His own. The mustard seed is one of the tiniest seeds found in the Middle East, so the conclusion is that the amount of faith needed to do great things is very small indeed. Just as in the parable of the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31–32), Jesus uses rhetorical hyperbole to make the point that little is much when it comes from God. The mustard seed in the parable grows to be a huge tree, representing the tiny beginnings of Christianity when just a few disciples began to preach and teach the gospel. Eventually, the kingdom grew to huge proportions, encompassing the entire world and spreading over centuries.

So, too, does the tiniest bit of faith, when it is true faith from God, grow to immense proportions in the lives of believers and spreading out to influence all they come into contact with. One has only to read histories of the great men of the faith, such as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, to know that superhuman feats were performed by those whose faith was, at one time, only the size of a mustard seed. (Quote source here.)

I’ll end this post with these two reminders: First, from Hebrews 11:6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. And second, from the words of Jesus found in Matthew 21:21-22, Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree (see vv. 18-20), but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe…

You will receive . . .

Whatever you ask for . . .

In prayer . . . .

YouTube Video: “Miracle” by Unspoken:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit here

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