Following World War II a Jewish family named Yankel opened a family bakery in Brooklyn. The fact that the family had survived the hardships of the war in Europe was itself a miracle. But let the senior Yankel tell the story:
“You know why it is that I’m alive today? I was a kid, just a teenager at the time, 1939. We were on the train, in a boxcar, being taken to the internment camp at Auschwitz. Night came and it was freezing, deathly cold in that boxcar. Enroute, the Nazis would often leave the cars on the side of the tracks overnight, sometimes for days on end, without any food or sanitation, and of course no blankets to keep us warm.
“I found myself sitting next to an older Jewish man – a beloved elderly man whom I recognized from my hometown. Although I had seen him before, I had never seen him like this. He was shivering from head to toe, was thin as a stick and he looked terrible. I spoke to him but he could hardly reply. So I wrapped my arms around him and began rubbing him to warm him up. I rubbed his arms, his legs, his hands, his face, and his neck. I begged him to hang on.
“All night long, I kept the man warm this way. I was tired, I was freezing cold myself, and my fingers were numb, but I didn’t stop rubbing the heat onto this man’s body. Hours and hours went by. I was tempted to give up, but I could feel some warmth coming into his extremities.
“Finally, night passed, morning came, and the sun began to shine. There was a bit of warmth in the car and I looked around to see how some of the other Jews in the car had fared. To my horror, all I could see were frozen bodies. I listened but all I could hear was a deathly silence.
“Nobody else in that car made it through the night – they died from the cold – every one of them. Only two people survived: the old man and me. The old man survived because somebody kept him warm; I survived because I was warming him.”
God told us about that principle a long time ago. Through the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah, 700 years before the birth of Christ, He told His people that when we reach out to help those in need, we ourselves find healing. (Isa 58:7, 8) I’m sure you discover that each time you bless someone in your neighborhood or your workplace. Works every time.
By Don Jacobsen