A Time For ... Forgiveness

Uploaded by TFHNYtv on 17.12.2012

Denis: Are you breathing?! Yeah.
Today we are starting a brand new
series called A Time For. A time for
Christmas. And today we are thinking
about the topic, A Time for Forgiveness.
Today is going to be just a little bit
different than what we may be used to.
We are not just going to look at the
scripture, but we are going to take a
moment and we're going to hear a
powerful story from a woman who was
able to survive the Holocaust.
Because the Bible would say this,
that we overcome by the blood of
the lamb and the word of our testimony.
And so listening to this lady's
testimony, I believe, is going to be
the encouragement we need with the
grace of God to help many of us who
are in this room and who are listening
at this moment to be able to overcome
the obstacle of unforgiveness and
embrace the forgiveness that God
would have for us. So let's begin
to pray in this moment. Then we
will jump into the scripture.
God, we thank You so much for who
You are. We thank You for Your
presence in this place. We celebrate
Your great name, because Your name is
more powerful than any other name
that we would ever know. God, we
ask that You would be present in
this moment, that You would speak to
our hearts, Lord God, that You would
be real to us. And I pray that every
single one of us would be changed
after encountering Your word and
encountering this story. So speak
to each and every one of us right
where we are. And we'll be careful
to give You the praise every step of
the way. In Jesus' name we pray.
Come on, would you shout Amen!
In Matthew Chapter 18 we are going to
read a number of scriptures. I want to
encourage you to take a deep breath
and use your outside voices. We are
going to read a whole lot. So let's
do this, the story of Jesus as he
tells it to his disciples. Come on.
Then Peter came to Jesus.
Master, he said, how many times must
I forgive my brother when he sins
against me? As many as 7 times?
I wouldn't say 7 times, replied Jesus.
Why not 70 times 7? Come on!
So you see, He went on, the kingdom
of heaven is like a royal personage
who wanted to settle up accounts
with his servants. As he was beginning
to sort it all out, one man brought
before him owed him 10,000 talents.
He had no means of paying it back.
So the master ordered him to be sold
with his wife and children and
everything he possessed and payment
to be made. So the servant fell down
and prostrated himself before the
master. Have mercy on me, he said.
And I'll pay you everything.
The master was very sorry for the
servant and let him off. He forgave
him the loan. Verse 28. But that
servant went out and found one of
his fellow servants who owed him
hundreds of dinars. He ceased him
and began to throttle him. Pay me
back what you owe me, he said.
The colleague fell down and begged him,
have mercy on me and I'll pay you.
But he refused and went and threw him
into prison until he could pay the debt.
So when his fellow servants saw what
happened they were very upset.
They went and informed their master
about the whole affair. Then his
master summoned him. You're a scoundrel
of a servant, he said to him.
I let you off the whole debt because
you begged to me. Shouldn't you have
taken pity on your colleague like
I took pity on you? His master was
angry and handed him over to the
torturers until he had paid the debt.
And that's what my heavenly Father
will do to you unless each of you
forgives your brother and sister
from your heart. Wow. That's an
incredible passage. I want you to
think about as Peter was walking to
Jesus and he is saying, Jesus, how
many times should I forgive someone
who has done me wrong, 7 times?
You have to understand that at this
time there was a teaching that was
going on amongst many of the rabbis that
said, listen, when you've been done
wrong, when somebody has trespassed
against you, then you should forgive
them 3 times. But after 3 times of
forgiving that same individual you
are under no obligation to forgive
them the 4th time. So Peter comes to
Jesus and he sounds like he is being
generous. He is more than doubling
what the rest of the rabbis would have
taught, and says, maybe we should
forgive 7 times. And Jesus blows this
whole thing out of the water by
saying, no, not 7 times, 70 times 7.
What Jesus was saying was not
literally you should, like multiply
7 times 70 and carry the 4, whatever.
He is not saying it is 490. He is
saying if you have to count then you
don't get it! He is saying as long
as there is an opportunity for
forgiveness then I want to encourage
you and challenge you to forgive.
Because Jesus is the one who exemplified
this like nobody else. When He was
there on the cross, it says that Jesus
took on the sins of the whole world.
Your sin and my sin. And He forgave
us of that sin. He relieved us of
that debt. And if that wasn't enough,
while He was there on the cross He is
looking at those who are beating Him
and mocking Him and ridiculing Him
and in the moment just before He is
about to die, He yells out, Father,
forgive them. So Jesus was able to
forgive and we've been able to receive
the forgiveness of God. He is saying
I challenge you to be a people of
forgiveness. Is anybody glad to have
received the forgiveness of our
Savior?! (applause)
So Jesus, here in this passage and
other passages, He says as you have
received mercy, as you have received
grace, as you have received forgiveness,
then I want to encourage you and
challenge you to turn around and
forgive your brother and sister.
So today we are going to take a
moment to listen to this story from
a lady named Eva Moses Kor.
She is about 78 years old right now.
She is a survivor of the Holocaust.
She is a Jew and she was born in
Romania. And we want to turn our
attention to the screen and just hear
a little bit about her story.
Eva Moses Kor: My earliest memories
go back to 1940 when I was 6 years old
living in a little, peaceful, primitive
village in Transylvania, Romania.
My father was a farmer. And there were
about 100 people, all Christian.
We were the only Jews. And in 1940
our Romanian village was occupied by
the Hungarians. And Hitler was
already in power. We found that out
very fast. But the village was
mostly peaceful. With the occupation
things though changed very fast.
First of all, my father had to go
every two weeks to a nearby police
station to present himself. If he
didn't, he was going to be arrested.
School started in the fall. It was
a one-room school house, maybe 40-50 kids.
We were the only Jews. But we learned
very fast that the school has been
taken over by the Nazis. And harassing
Jews and killing Jews was definitely
part of the agenda. What I was to
learn was the kids taught to hate
were very eager to practice that idea.
And they were a wonder for it.
Kids are very good at trying to put
down other kids, particularly if they
are taught to do so. And my former
playmates became my tormentors.
Also they not only picked on us,
they could beat us up. And when we
went to the teacher to complain about
it, the teacher would punish us.
So as a little 6-year old, I had no
place to go for protection. When we
got home and told my parents about it,
they adopted a very interesting attitude.
They said, children, when you go to
school, you have to be very good students.
We were. When you come home you help
around the farm. And at night you
say your prayers and everything will
be okay. But we did all those things.
But I couldn't figure out how that was
going to help. Because as time went on
the rules and laws that were passed
against us were becoming more and more
difficult. Two generals came to our
house and ordered us to pack some food
and clothing because they were taking
us to a regional ghetto about an hour
by train but 5 hours by horse and
buggy or horse and wagon. And the
ghetto itself was an open field
surrounded by barbed wires, guarded
by guards. We built our tent out of
sheets and blankets. And there was
only one building, the commandant's
headquarters. Every head of the family
was taken in for interrogation.
When my father was taken in he was
brought back the next day on a stretcher.
He had bleeding whip marks.
All his fingernails and toenails were
burned because they tried to find out
where he hid all his gold and silver.
And he told them that he put all his
money in land and equipment to work
the land. But they didn't believe him.
A few days later we were loaded onto
cattle cars. They were telling us that
they were taking us to a labor camp
in Hungary. The train moved very fast.
And it would only stop for one reason,
to refuel. So we would ask the guard,
but because every cattle car had a
guard right by to watch us so we
wouldn't escape. The guard would always
say, 5 gold watches. And it was the
end of the third day when the train
stopped. We asked for water and the
answer came back in German, which meant
to me that we have crossed the border
into Germany, and that the end was near.
As soon as we stepped down from the
cattle car my mother grabbed my twin
sister and me by the hand. We were her
youngest children. We had two older
sisters. In the hope that as long as
she could hold onto us she could
protect us. Everything was moving
very fast. And within 30 minutes my
father and two older sisters were gone.
And my mother was approached by a Nazi
guard who demanded to know if we were
twins. And she said was it good?
And the Nazi said yes. And my mother
said yes. And at that moment she was
pulled away. So Miriam and I were left
with nobody but each other holding
our hands on that huge strip of land
called the selection platform. And as
we entered the place, there on the
filthy floor were the scattered
corpses of three children. And this is
where I understood that it could
happen to Miriam and me unless I did
something to prevent it. So I made the
conscientious effort. I said I will
do everything and anything within my
power to make sure that Miriam and I
shall not end up on that filthy floor,
that we will survive and walk out of
this camp alive. So what I did,
from the moment we left there I did
everything instinctively. I never
let any doubt or fear enter my mind.
And everything that I was doing from
there on was instinctively. I had a
picture in my mind of Miriam and me
walking out of this camp alive.
And that picture I never let go of
until the day of liberation.
On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday we
would be taken to another lab. There
they would tie both of my arms to
restrict the blood flow. And they would
take a lot of blood from my left arm
and give me a minimum of 5 injections
into the right arm. The content of
those injections we didn't know then
and I still do not know. After one
of those injections I became very ill
with a very high fever that I
desperately tried to hide. The next
visit to the blood lab they did not
tie my arms. Instead of that they
measured my fever and I knew I was in
trouble. I had a very high fever and
both legs and arms were swollen.
And I had huge red patches all over
my body. I was taken to the hospital.
In this case the hospital was another
barrack filled with people who looked
very sick. Most of them looked like
more dead than alive. The next morning
Dr. Mengele came in with 4 other
doctors. He looked at my fever chart.
He never, ever examined me. And he
declared immediately,
laughing sarcastically, he said,
too bad, she's so young. She has only
2 weeks to live. I knew he was right.
But I still refused to die. So I said
to myself, I'm going to make a second,
silent pledge. I want to survive.
I will do anything within my power
to prove Dr. Mengele wrong, to survive
and be reunited with my sister.
For the following two weeks, I have
only 1 memory. I remember often
waking up on the barrack floor.
I was crawling because I no longer
could walk. I was crawling to the other
end of the barrack where there was a
faucet with water. As I was crawling
I would fade in and out of consciousness.
And I kept telling myself, I must
survive, I must survive! After 2 weeks
my fever broke and I immediately felt
a lot stronger. It took me another
3 weeks before my fever chart showed
normal and I was released and reunited
with my twin sister, Miriam.
Denis: So for a whole year after
Eva and Miriam were reunited, they had
to go through all kinds of demeaning
tests in these horrid living condtions.
And then finally in 1945 they were
able to be liberated from the camp.
And I was just speaking to her a
couple of days ago. I said, what was
it like in those years after you had
been liberated from the camp. And
she began to tell me about how even
though she is going through life
and she was able to eventually get
reunited with some aunts and uncles,
and she was able to move to Israel
and get married in 1960, and have kids
and move to America. All these things,
it seems like it would have been the
dream rescue, after being rescued from
Auschwitz. But she said in her
heart, in her life, she was bound by
so much bitterness and anger. She
was bound by this unforgiveness.
For decades she was living with this
thing. And her kids are growing up
and she would tell me how she would just
yell at them for no apparent reason
because anger had taken over her life.
And things would happen to her in her
life in the 1970's and 1980's and
she would automatically blame it on
what had happened to her int he 1940's.
So even though she is living life and
she is able to enjoy so many things that
the rest of her family was not even
able to enjoy, she said, Denis,
my life was incarcerated still. And
the root of it was unforgiveness.
And after 49 years of living like this
she was able to come and begin her
journey of forgiveness in the early
1990's. And I want to turn our
attention one more time to the screen
so that we can hear the conclusion of
this story.
Eva Moses Kor: The most unusual thing
that I have ever experienced. I did
not ever sit down to think about it
even 1 day, that I was going to forgive
the Nazis. The best way I can describe
it to you is that I stumbled into it.
Miriam died on June 6, 1993. I was
devastated. So as I was trying to deal
with her death, which was unbelievably
difficult for me, I received a
telephone call about 3 weeks after
Miriam died, from a professor.
His name is John Michalczyk, at
Boston College. And he said to me,
Eva Kor, I have heard you speak about
your experiences and I want you to
come to lecture to some doctors.
And I told him I love to lecture to
doctors! And he said why is that?
I said well, when I go to the doctor
and they examine me and then they chew
me out, telling me that I'm too fat,
that I don't eat the right food,
that I need to try and exercise.
And after they chew me out, they want
me to pay them! And so I said,
I know that doctors do a lot of things
wrong also, and I'm going to tell them
what they did wrong. And after I
chew them out, they are going to pay me!
That is my way of getting even with
the doctors. So Dr. Michalczyk said,
you like to joke a lot! I said,
yes, I do. I've cried so much in my
life that I don't think I have any
tears left. He said, okay. When you
come to Boston, he said, it would be
really nice if you could bring with
you a Nazi doctor. I was startled
at his request! And I said, oh,
excuse me, where do you think I can
find one of those guys?! You know,
they are not advertising in the
yellow pages! He said, look it,
think about it, look about it, maybe
you're going to find out something
once you really start thinking.
I said, okay, I'll try.
And the next day, I remembered that
I appeared in a documentary done
by German television. That was the
last project that Miriam and I
worked on. It was finished in 1992.
And in that documentary was a Nazi
doctor from Auschwitz. His name was
Hans Münch, and I figured he might
be still alive because it was 1993.
So I immediately faxed a letter to
Germany. So here I am heading to
Germany to meet a Nazi doctor.
I was so scared! I could not sleep
for 2 days before departure.
Every nerve in my body was rebelling
against what I was going to do.
So I want you to realize, because to
me it is an amazing thing, here I
am sitting across the table from a
Nazi doctor. And he did not know
anything about our experiment, which
was important to me. But what would
be the chances that I would ever meet
a Nazi doctor?! So everybody can
interpret as they please.
Suddenly I hear myself say,
Dr. Münch, do you know anything about
the gas chambers in Auschwitz?
And he answers immediately:
This is a nightmare that I live
with every single day of my life.
He said that people, the canisters
was dropped from there and dropped
to the floor. The pellets and the
gas was rising from the floor.
People were trying to get away from
the rising gas, climbing on top of
each other, forming an intermingled
mass of a mountain of human beings.
Dr. Münch was watching it through a
peep hole. Then he saw that everybody
stopped moving on the top of the pile.
He knew that everybody was dead.
I got back to Terre Haute and I
wanted to thank this Nazi doctor.
Now, for the life of me, I do not
understand why that popped into my
head, but it did. But how on earth
do you thank a Nazi doctor?!
We went to one of the local card shops,
Hallmark cards, because I was going
to look in the thank you section.
I mean, I couldn't tell anybody.
The whole idea seemed to me strange.
But I wanted to find a gift for this
Nazi doctor. I had to thank him.
So I went to the card shop in the
section where they had thank you cards.
And I read for 2-1/2 hours! Two ladies
stopped by asking me, are you finding
what you are looking for? I said not
really. Well, what are you looking for?
I said to myself, should I tell them?
They are going to think I am crazy.
I said, no, no, no, thank you, I'll
just keep on looking. But I left
the card shop. But I couldn't give
up on the idea of finding a meaningful
gift. So I went back life lesson
number 1. When I was cooking, cleaning,
driving the car, I kept asking myself,
how can I thank this Nazi doctor?
What can I give this Nazi doctor?
And all kinds of ideas popped into my
head. It took me 10 months before
one day, the simple idea, how about a
letter of forgiveness from me to him.
I knew immediately that this was a
very meaningful gift. But what I
discovered for myself was life-
changing. I discovered that I,
Eva Moses Kor, had the power to forgive.
No one could give me that power and
no one could take it away. It was all
mine to us it any way I wished!
So I began writing my letter to
Dr. Münch. I worked through a lot of
pain. It took me 4 months to write
the letter. Ultimately I think I had
in my mind, I have to write and I have
to mean the words, I forgive you.
Once it was finished, I said to myself,
what if somebody might even read my
letter. And my English spelling
is atrocious. I didn't want to be
embarrassed. So I called my former
English professor and asked her to
look at my letter and correct my
spelling. Well, she said, it is very
nice, Eva, that you are giving this
letter of forgiveness to Dr. Münch,
but you really need to forgive
Dr. Mengele. And I tried to protest.
And I said, this is just a little
letter. She said, my friend, whose
name is Susan Kaufman, said okay,
that's okay, Eva, I understand.
But you still need to think about
forgiving Mengele. She said do me a
favor. When you go home tonight just
visualize for a moment that Mengele
is standing there and you are telling
him, I forgive you. See how it makes
you feel. Hmmm. Okay, I said.
And the moment I got home and I
started visualizing that and saying
to Mengele, I forgive you, I immediately
said, wow!!! I even have the power to
forgive the god of Auschwitz! And I'm
not hurting anybody, so why couldn't
I do it?! Now if I forgave the Nazis,
I decided that I might as well forgive
everybody who ever hurt me.
But I was angry with my parents.
I hated my parents.
I didn't say it loud, but I looked
up to the sky in Auschwitz and I thought
that if the souls of people existed
after they died, the souls of my
parents were floating right above
the camp. I hated them because
children expect their parents to
protect them. Mine could not protect me.
And as I was growing up as a teenager
and even as a young person, when life
was very difficult I would often say
to myself, if my parents would have
saved me from Auschwitz. If my
parents would have saved me from a
destiny of growing up as an orphan,
that was very hard. I never, ever
felt that I belonged anywhere.
Because when I stayed with relatives
on holidays when I lived in Israel,
I always felt like I was a 5th wheel.
And I always scrubbed the floors, did
their dishes, just to do something
that to make me feel useful and like
I belonged. But I finally understood
that my parents did the best that they
knew how. So I forgave my parents, for
hating them. And I forgave myself for
hating my parents. I don't need,
we don't need anybody's permission.
We don't need anybody's approval.
It is free! The most amazing thing,
it is free! Everybody can afford it!
And if people are afraid to forgive
and give up their pain, they fear if
they give that up. But you can always
go and take your pain back.
Nobody will take it away from you.
Therefore I call anger and pain a
seed for war. On the other hand,
people who forgive are at peace with
themselves. They do not want to
hurt anybody. So I call forgiveness
a seed for peace.
Denis: Yeah. We're grateful to
Miss Eva Kor and to the Candles Holocaust
Museum for just sitting down with us
for a few moments this past week.
We can get ready to leave here.
We can think about that yeah, that is
a great story. Or we can begin to
ask ourselves, who in our lives do
we need to forgive. In the last day
or so I've gotten to meet some people.
There's one lady I spoke to that was
angry as she has just got over cancer,
but she has been angry, like God,
how can you let me go through
something like this. When I was
leaving the interview with Eva
I met a man who after I told him about
this story, he said for 19 years
I've been angry with my ex-wife. And
he says after hearing this lady's
story, I think I need to start down
this journey of forgiveness.
Who is it you may need to be forgiving?
It is yourself? Is it someone who
may have died? Is it someone you may
have been avoiding? Who is it in your
life? One writer says it like this,
that forgiveness is like the air in
your lungs. And you only have room
to inhale the next lung-full when you
have breathed out the previous one.
When we insist on holding on to
unforgiveness then we don't have any
room to inhale the love and the mercy
and the forgiveness of God.
And Jesus, I believe, is speaking
to us as a community, I want you to
breathe again. I want you to live.
I want you to be able to experience
and to receive the fullness of God's
love and mercy and forgiveness.
But in order to do that, you have
to exhale and get rid of this
unforgiveness that you've been
holding onto. Eva told me,
when we began our conversation,
she was like, forgiveness, it
doesn't need to be initiated by the
apology of the person who has done
you wrong. It is not about if they
deserve it. When you forgive somebody
it is not that you are condoning what
they have done. But forgiveness is
about being able to receive the
freedom that God would have for you.
And you can't do this on your own.
It's only by the grace of Jesus Christ
that would empower you to do what
you cannot do on your own.
So this is what I want to encourage
you to do. When you came in the
building you should have received
one of these cards, A Time for
Forgiveness, it says on the top.
For those of you joining us on line,
I want you to just grab a piece of
paper right now. And we are going
to call up the team. We are going
to sing one more song before we let
out this service. And as Eva did
17 years ago, she grabbed a piece of
paper and began to write out forgiveness
to this Nazi doctor that killed
thousands of people. It wasn't easy
for her. It took her 10 months just
to get the piece of paper out. And
it took another 4 months for her to
begin to articulate what she needed to
articulate. But at the end of that
journey she was able to forgive those
doctors and she was able to forgive
her parents. And she was able to
forgive herself. And I want to say
today is the first step in your
journey toward forgiveness.
While we are playing this song,
would you take a moment and just
begin to write down these words of
forgiveness. And some of us, this
week we need to mail out this piece
of paper. Some of us, we may need
to call up somebody and set up a
coffee date or something just so we
can look somebody face to face and
say the words, I forgive you for how
you have transgressed against me.
Wherever you are, in the moment of
your need, I believe that the grace
of God will come on you and empower
you to do what you could not do on
your own. So take a moment while we
are playing this song and while
the drama team comes out. And just
begin to take that first step
toward forgiveness.
♪ I've dealt with my ghosts
♪ And faced all my demons
♪ Finally content with a past I regret
♪ I've found you find strength
♪ In your moments of weakness
♪ For once I'm at peace with myself
♪ I've been burdened by blame
♪ Trapped in the past for too long
♪ I'm moving on
♪ I've lived in this place
♪ And I know all the faces
♪ Each one is different
♪ But they're always the same
♪ They mean me no harm
♪ But it's time that I face it
♪ They'll never allow me to change
♪ But I never dreamed
♪ Home would end up where I don't belong
♪ I'm moving on
♪ I'm moving on at last I can see
♪ That life has been patiently
♪ Waiting for me
♪ I know there's no guarantees
♪ But I'm not alone
♪ There comes a time in everyone's life
♪ When all you can see are
♪ The years passing by
♪ And I have made up my mind
♪ That those days are gone
♪ I sold what I could
♪ And packed what I couldn't
♪ Stopped to fill up
♪ On the way out of town
♪ I've loved like I should
♪ But lived like I shouldn't
♪ But I had to lose everything
♪ To find out
♪ Maybe forgiveness will find me
♪ Somewhere down this road
♪ I'm moving on
♪ I'm moving on
♪ I'm moving on
Denis: So God, we thank You for
Your grace today that would empower
us to do what we could not do on
our own. We ask for the power of
the Holy Spirit to empower us to
move down this journey of forgiveness.
Lord, for those who have done us
wrong, would You help us to see them
the way that You see them. And in the
same way that Jesus was able to
forgive those who hurt Him,
who ridiculed Him,
who beat Him,
who sinned against Him,
Lord, God, would you give us the
power to forgive those in our lives,
our brothers and our sisters,
whoever it would be,
give us the power to release them
and to forgive them for what they've
done toward us. Lord, God, we want
to be a people that would exemplify
the kingdom, that would exemplify
this forgiveness, that would be able
to live the freedom only You can give.
Lord, today would you help us to
breathe again. Liberate us from
the chains of unforgiveness, from
the chains of anger and bitterness,
Lord God. Pour out Your power and
Your grace in our lives, Lord.
We'll be careful to give You the
praise every step of the way.
Lord God, let Your kingdom come
in us and manifest Your power in
us. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen!