God's Provision


The anxiety was daily becoming more tense. Every day more and more Nazi soldiers wandered through Kindertehuis, the village like residential housing facility for mentally handicapped children. Residents and staff were ill at ease, as these men showed up unannounced. The residents didnít understand,"... they are always so angry and talk so funny to us". The staff, mostly young women werenít too keen on the looks and comments that came their way either.

At the weekly staff meeting the young ladies who worked at Kindertehuis were informed that for safety sake they would work and stay in residence a week at the time. Staff changes would be carried out with limited police protection, since it seemed no longer safe for them to travel to and from the isolated workplace through the enemy lines. Enemy lines that seemed to be drawn tighter and tighter around their little village complex.

"What will be doing for the kids this year? There is hardly any food left for the regular meals, how can we do anything extra this Christmas?" "What will we do when the Nazis come and threaten the kids, or us for that matter?"

Staff conversations were very terse, stress was becoming unbearable; Many who were known to be easy going started to lose their temper. The outside danger of the Nazis and the uncertainty of basic food supplies started to bear down.

"Staff will have an hour every 8 hours to rest and be off-duty. You are not allowed to leave the compound. We have had three occasions where soldiers tried to molest a staffmember and a resident. Please donít go anywhere, unless there are at least three of you together." The director sighed, this was not the way she liked to run her facility, but she had no choice.

Zwaantje came running in, out of breath and fuming mad, "Who does that dirty Nazi think he is, this is the third time he tried to grab me as he walked through the village. I wish they would be gone from here." The other girls were taken aback by the anger Zwaantje displayed. It was so unlike her!

With only three days till Christmas the soldiers seemed to increase their threatening presence more and more. Tension rose, angry outbursts became commonplace.

Some men active in the underground movement had donated traditional Christmas pastry, a local church group had given some toys. Christmas eve had come. The short program prepared by the children was ready to be performed for the other residents and the staff. All day long there had been increased activity by the Nazis. One of them had even tried to steal some of the treats that had been readied for the children.

"What do you mean, nobody knows where Zwaantje is?" The residents were seated for their Christmas eve supper and to everyoneís surprise Zwaantje was missing. "Who saw her last?" "When the soldier tried to steal the cake Zwaantje yelled at him and started to chase him. She had the butcher knife in her hand." A chill went through the group.

The meal was eaten in silence. Just before the conclusion of the meal, when the Christmas story would be read from the Bible, the dining room door opened and in walked Zwaantje. Her hair and clothing were messed up, between the wind and the rain she looked like she had been blown about for a few hours. She was exhausted. She fell on a chair and in her tiredness all she could get out to the other staff was, "I hope they wont bother us again." "Zwaantje what did you do?" "What happened? Where did you go?" All Zwaantje did was smile and say, "Pray that the Lord will hear us."

Christmas eve went well. As the children portrayed the Christmas story emotions ran high and many staff let tears freely run down their faces.

"Peace on earth ..." How much longer did this insane war have to go on?

"Good will toward men..." Why the ever present threat to children who were handicapped? They could not be blamed for anything the politicians decided in their ivory palaces.

"Glory to God..." Why did people who dedicated themselves to helping the helpless become the recipients of senseless threats.

"He has come to be your Saviour..." Lord God, if ever we needed a Saviour we need Him now!!!

There were no interruptions during the program. The night was very still. There had been talk about a Christmas cease fire. Could it be ?

The next day it was unusually quiet. There were no Nazis in sight the whole day. The sun came out and the children were able to play outdoors for several hours. When evening came the staff realized that there had not been one outsider in the village the whole day. All noticed it but no one commented since they all enjoyed the day that much. It seemed that if they would talk about it, somehow it would come to an end.

When the police came the next day to escort the staff back to their home and let a new group of staff take over the shifts, all felt ill at ease in leaving. They had enjoyed their Christmas shift. It seemed a bit of the peace of heaven had settled over the village.

They happily chatted as they drove out of the compound. "Zwaantje, what happened? Where did you go?" Zwaantje smiled and then broke out in a hearty laugh, "God has answered my prayer", she grinned from ear to ear, "just look back!"

The girls turned to look back toward the entrance of the compound and noticed a crude hand painted sign on the gate: "Quarantined. Typhoid fever. Very contagious. Stay out."

"I placed one of these at every entrance to the compound", Zwaantje explained. "And God answered my prayers, because the Nazis believed it! Praise God."

The girls laughter rang out over the country side.

(PS. This story is based on a real happening. Zwaantje is my mother-in-law.)

Henk Frijters sermon@minister.com

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