Hand in Hand
| By Marty Shoub |

"I see Israeli and German young people, walking hand in hand through the gates of Auschwitz!" As German and Israeli Messianic leaders met together to pray, God imparted this startling and hopeful vision to one Israeli leader. Everyone gathered together at Zichron Yacov that day affirmed God's direction and in short order the vision was transformed into reality: "Yad b'Yad" (Hand in Hand) was born.

Since 2005, Yad b'Yad has been partnering up Israeli and German youth together to redemptively explore the pain and tragedy of the Holocaust. German born Yad b'Yad coordinator, Karen L. explained that Israeli young people are responsible to pay their airfare to Germany but from then on all expenses in Germany and Poland are covered by the Philoppus Foundation, a leadership team of German believers committed to building friendship and reconciliation between Israelis and Germans.

Last August, six young people from the Tents of Mercy network along with four other Israeli young believers partnered up with 10 German young people to walk in reconciliation and forgiveness through the pain of the Holocaust's horrific legacy. Just as in the prophetic vision, they walked hand in hand through Auschwitz and Berkenau declaring to the seen and unseen world that Yeshua has broken down the middle wall of partition that separates us - indeed, He is our peace.

Tents of Mercy's youth leader, Andrey G. took on the task of raising funds for the trip. Our young people learned an important lesson in faith. They volunteered for building, cleaning and childcare projects, all the while trusting in God's goodness. Andrey: "There was no way that the families of these young people could pay for the trip but somehow it all worked out and God provided all the funds for the airfare."

And so it was first to Tel Aviv for two days of team building and preparation and then on to Wendhausen, a small town almost due west of Berlin. There Andrey and the Israelis were billeted in German homes and introduced to their German counterparts. The irony wasn't lost on Andrey. The home of his German host family once belonged to the director of the SS training academy in the nearby city of Braunschweig.


Andrey and Peter at the
gates of Auschwitz

Overcome with grief
in the gas chamber

The vision becomes reality
Despite the distance of sixty years and three generations, these reminders of Germany's Nazi past still haunted Andrey and the team. "I felt really scared, how would I hold up under the strain of seeing first hand what happened in the Holocaust?" After a ten hour bus ride the team was in Krakow, Poland. This city once boasted a population of 65,000 Jews, a full 25% of Krakow's population. All of them perished under the Nazi regime. The days of preparation were now put to the test, it was time to visit the camps. How would the Israelis respond? Would their German partners understand? Would they reach out to one another in love, forgiveness and reconciliation?

Andrey described the experience: "People asked me if I was prepared for what I saw. I don't think it is possible to be prepared. We all felt the heaviness of the place. It is one thing to tour Yad Va Shem (Israel's Holocaust museum) and learn about what happened but to witness it first hand is entirely different."

Together the Israeli and German youth toured through the camp and the museum exhibits spread throughout Auschwitz. For Andrey, the experience was overwhelming, "We were supposed to go through four museums but after the second one I didn't want to go on - it was too much." Wherever the group went they carried the Israeli flag, a comfort of sorts, declaring Israel still lives despite what the enemy intended in this place.


Repentance and forgiveness
After touring the gas chamber the group sat together to gather their thoughts and debrief. They sang the "Shema" and read out Ezekiel's prophecy of the dry scattered bones being gathered together and coming to life. Andrey explained, "This was the turning point. We had been worried that our German partners would not be able to relate to our feelings but as we read the prophecy in Hebrew and German we connected deeply with one another."


Remembering the fallen
The following day was at Berkenau; the extermination camp. Karen tied the Israeli and German flags together and partners took turns walking through this killing field with the Israeli flag draped over the German youth and the German flag draped over the Israeli. The tour ended at the gas chamber where partners lit candles and prayed together. As Andrey took it all in he wondered if there was any redemption emerging out of this tragedy. "As I saw the partners lighting the candles and praying together hope started to rise in my heart. After the ceremony we walked out of the camp hand in hand singing worship songs with the two flags tied together. We all knew that this was the hope that Yeshua brings."

Andrey's hope inspires his belief that this generation can achieve a lasting reconciliation that perhaps the previous generations just could not do. For some, the pain and the shame have been just too close to let go. As young Germans enter into identificational repentance and young Israelis respond in forgiveness both peoples move towards healing and restoration.

Even in this tragic place God still performs miracles.

 

By Martin Shoub



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Comments
Comments:
17:20 01Nov07 Marja Kostamo -
This is wonderful! Step by step..."and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in the heavens". The pain is very, very deep, but nothing is too deep for the love of God to restore.

22:45 01Nov07 Sue Blake -
The article is very good, but the pictures say it all. I could feel the pain and love through the pictures. I went through Israel's Holocaust museum this past summer with a Group of Germans and people from the Netherlands and the emotions were so tense and tears could not quell the pain. I had to leave the Children's Pavilion as I could feel the spirits and it was more than I could bear. God bless the young ones and the healing that took place. Never again ...

21:39 03Nov07 Pat -
I believe only Christ Jesus could bring the people together, it is happening all over I read "My Utmost for His Highest" for Nov. 3 and one step for becoming a bond slave of Christ. We are being made new Our God is GREAT.


Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Dan Juster: Apartheid
Moshe Morrison: The Pushkie Project
Michael Cohen: Yom Kippur 5768