Monday, January 04, 2010

A message from Captain Bret

Many thanks to the Mortons and the folks in South Georgia for putting together a fabulous Heroes of the Faith ball.

And now, I would like to introduce you to some Heroes of the Faith that our family studied about recently...

In case you do not recognize us, this is Jacqueline, Madara, and me. We are portraying Herr Ernst Leitz, Frau Leitz, and their daughter Elsie. Most historical accounts of Ernst Leitz that I have read begin by calling him the “steely eyed protestant patriarch” of the Leica Camera Company in Germany. Herr Leitz took this responsibility as patriarch seriously, and worked tirelessly to provide for and protect the people under his care, sometimes at great risk to himself and his family. In the 1930’s, as Hitler began to enact his race laws, Leitz recognized the danger this posed to the many Jews who worked in his factory. As a true follower of Christ, he could not embrace the patriotism that the overwhelming majority of the “Christians” in Germany embraced, which asked them to not only overlook the persecution taking place in their own neighborhoods, but to actively participate in it by “turning in” their neighbors to the authorities. And so, very quietly, he began assigning his Jewish staff to overseas positions at his offices in Hong Kong, London, and New York. He even “hired” family and friends of his employees, securing the required papers and permission to send them out of the country. When these families disembarked the ship, they were met by a Leica Camera Company representative who gave each of them a new Leica camera, which they could sell for much more than it cost the company to produce.

From 1933 and extending even to after Germany sealed its’ borders in 1939, hundreds – and possibly even thousands – of lives were saved by these bold Christians who risked their lives to establish what would later come to be known as “The Leica Freedom Train.” At one point, Elsie was captured and mistreated by the Gestapo for helping a group of Jewish ladies cross the border into Switzerland. The Leitz family refused to be led by the pastors of German churches who helped cover the “itching ears” of their flock against the pleas of help from their neighbors.

Just as we saw in Nazi Germany, so we are already seeing here “Christians” who are turning in believers to the authorities, usually through anonymous phone calls to state family and children’s services. We are currently working with families in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee – people who are personal friends of families in our church -- who are being persecuted, some severely. And as was also paralleled in Germany, we see that the overwhelming majority of American pastors have no concern for those who are being persecuted for their faith. In fact, with one family who has sought our help, the pastor of their church is a party to the persecution.

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

(Matthew 25:44-46 NIV)

We need to remind people who claim to be followers of Christ that it is incredibly foolish to fail to provide aid and support to fellow believers who are suffering persecution, regardless of whether we agree with their viewpoints on issues of child discipline, education, the appropriate level of sheltering children, or a myriad of other personal convictions concerning the most Biblical way to build a godly household. And to those who are stupid enough to actually betray the Lord by betraying “one of the least of these” into the hands of the authorities, the words of the Lord himself speak clearly:

“But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."

(Mark 14:21 NIV)