The following is an article from the July 1999 Christadelphian Bible Missionary magazine, written and submitted by Bro. Michael Barnes (Clevedon Ecclesia, U.K.).
For those of us living under western cultures, the regular appeals in the newspapers for resources to help dispossessed and displaced people, sometimes sadly brings with it an apathetic response. Over sixty years ago, on February 10,1939, a newspaper appeal for help for young Jewish refugees provoked some Christadelphians to respond. As a result a number of Jewish refugees and some others, took on the Saving Name of the Lord Jesus.
The appeal was placed by The Lord Baldwin Fund for Refugees. It was an appeal to find homes in Britain for Jewish children fleeing from the anti-Semitic oppression that was growing in Nazi Germany. This was a small window of opportunity, prior to the realisation by the general public that the holocaust was underway.
The British Government was prepared to accept 10,000 children as long as a surety of £50 per child was paid and an assurance given that the children would not be a burden on the state. Collections were made by our community in response to this appeal as evidenced in the Christadelphian Magazine of the time. However, a small group of brethren and sisters made a further commitment. They made regular trips to London's Liverpool Street station, to meet the boat train from Germany and to collect frightened and tearful children, some as young as three. This general evacuation of Jewish refugee children became known later as Operation Kindertransport. We learn from accounts of the time that the scene was such that 'hardened London Bobby's' (policemen) were moved to tears. Once the children had been collected, homes had to be found for them. The conditions that the British Government stipulated were not easy, especially when reflecting on the privations of war which soon took a grip on the nation. One of those brethren who went to Liverpool Street station was reminded of the words, spoken to the Children of Israel, recorded in Deuteronomy chapter 28.
Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand. The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway: Deuteronomy 28:32-33.
This brother became responsible for the relocation of about 250 children and was able to find homes for most of them. On occasions, when he went to speak at other ecclesias, he took refugee children with him. Homes were often found for them amongst brethren and sisters who were present on the day. He also established a hostel, to look after teenage Jewish boys during the war years. The hostel 'boys' some now well advanced in years and now living in various parts of the world, still get together to remember those times. It was there that they were given a respect for the scriptures and where, they acknowledge, those scriptures were brought to life by their Christadelphian foster-father.
Clearly, under the care of Christadelphians and in families where there was a respect for the Bible, it was not long before some children then, or later in life, reflected on the circumstances of their survival and the convictions of those who had helped them. In due course they took the step of baptism. Though it was not the initial motive of taking these children into their homes, the influence of regular contact with the scriptures and the respect for God's Word made a lasting impression.
Not only the refugees themselves, but other people who witnessed this work also came to reflect on the convictions of those who were doing it. Some came to a knowledge of the Truth and were baptised. The wife of a man who undertook the translation of the German documents that accompanied the children, was one. A woman who heard about the work of the Hostel was another. It is not easy to estimate the total number of how many came into the Truth by these efforts particularly as it was the practice of refugees to change their names once they made permanent homes in the west.
Over the last few years some of these refugees have written about their experiences. Though most are not in the Truth they make reference to the care and help they found amongst the Christadelphian community. In August 1998 Christadelphian efforts on behalf of these children was acknowledged in The Jerusalem Report. Interestingly, in the UK in June of this year, a sixtieth anniversary reunion of Operation Kindertransport refugees is to take place.
These events emphasises the impact that personal action, based upon christian principles, can have on those we come into contact with it. That, coupled with an encouragement to respect the Scriptures of Truth, inevitably produces results. We carry the Truth to far off places and search for those who will listen and respond. It is interesting to reflect that in this case people were brought from afar; from a place where it would seem the Truth could not penetrate, but they were brought never-the-less to a source of the knowledge of the Truth.
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