If we think we are lacking things to be thankful for this weekend, the following story may change our minds.
Zvi Weichert was put into a Polish orphanage by his Jewish parents when the Nazi invasion of Poland was underway in 1939. He was 10 years old and told by his mother to make sure that he always tells inquirers the he is not a Jew, he is Polish. He never saw his older siblings or his parents again. They were brutally killed by Nazi atrocities along with millions of others. Zvi’s desperate search after WW2 revealed no trace of them.
After years of wilderness survival, cruel mistreatment and gnawing hunger he ended up with a group that was booked onto a ship for transport to Israel in spite of British restrictions curtailing further immigration. The ship, built for 200, was spotted and the 600 refugees were routed to a Cypress camp. Eventually those who had survived the ordeal did become landed immigrants and citizens of Israel. Zvi also became a follower of Jesus in spite of severe opposition from fellow Jews.
Zvi found work, served in the compulsory Israeli Defense Force during the 6 Day War and the Yom Kippur Invasion. Israel fended off impossible odds against Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Eventually Zvi married and had a family but the troubles were not over. His big, next door neighbor was enraged when Zvi brought his Christian friends over to his house. He told him never to bring them again and threatened extreme violence if he did. Zvi stood his ground. As a result rocks were thrown through his windows, the children taunted and his wife ganged up on when she left the house. With tears of fear and desperation she begged Zvi for a move away from there. Zvi decided first to appeal to the Lord for His guidance.
That same day at mealtime they heard a loud thud coming from the neighbor’s home. Running over Zvi found his enemy on the floor with a heart attack. He called the ambulance, rode with him to the hospital and cared for his home in spite of having been persecuted by him. There were $600 dollars in a drawer that his neighbor told Zvi to take for his expenses. He didn’t. Eventually the man recovered and to quote Zvi’s biographer (Elwood McQuaid, Zvi, p. 179) “…you are the only one who has come to see me while I am here. Even some I thought were my friends have not come. Why have you done it?” Zvi replied, “Already I have told you, only in the name of the Lord. A few years ago I would probably have let you die after what you did to my wife. But the Messiah has changed all this for me. I have learned to care for those who choose to be my enemies as well.”