Joseph knew what would happen next. He was standing in the courtyard of the Gestapo headquarters.
The Nazi soldiers in Budapest had been given orders to round up and execute as many Jewish teens as they could before the Christmas holiday began. Stripped naked, pushed up against a wall, facing a machine gun. It was Christmas Eve, 1944.
Suddenly there was a commotion at the other end of the courtyard. A Gestapo officer arrived and commanded the shocked soldiers to stop the slaughter.
«As Christians you can’t kill these teens on Christmas Eve,” he scolded. «How can you go to Church after this? Better do it after Christmas», he reasoned.
After much debate the executioners reluctantly conceded and the teenage children were released into the officer’s custody. Within moments they had been driven to safety in a stolen army truck.
The truth is; the officer in question was no Nazi, but the courageous Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who saved thousands of Jewish lives in Hungary during this bleak and desperate time.
Years later in Israel, Joseph, told me of the vow he made that day to celebrate Christmas as long as he lived.
He was saved because of Christmas Day.
This season we joyfully celebrate Jesus’ birth. But we do so recognizing that it impossible to love Him and hate His people.
Source: ICEJ.org. Letter from Rev. Malcolm Hedding,