Pomegranates by Chanan Mazal

Pomegranates by Chanan Mazal

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Freedom Beyond Walls

"God does not have problems. Only plans."
Corrie Ten Boom

It is good to be back home - I have missed all of you over the past few weeks.

While on holidays in Amsterdam and Haarlem we had the honour of visiting the Ann Frank Museum and the home of Corrie Ten Boom.



Both of these extraordinary people have left a profound impact on the world from their inspiring stories of courage, sacrifice and love in the midst of war.


Entrance to the hiding place in Corrie's closet

The false wall was built in Corrie's bedroom to protect the Jewish people from the Nazi authorities
 
Hearing their stories reminded me of another person who may not be as familiar to some of you.

In his autobiography entitled A Boy's War we get a small glimpse into the life and faith of a boy named David.

David's parents were Australian missionaries who went to China with the China Inland Mission, which was founded by James Hudson Taylor.

It was quite common during that time for MK's (Missionary Kids) to be sent to boarding school for their education.



At the young age of six, David left his parents to attend school.

When he arrived at the Chefoo school in 1939 his life would change.

World War Two unfolded, Japan invaded and occupied China.  David and the other Chefoo school children were taken to Weihsien concentration camp in Shantung Province, North China.

David and his sister Joyce would not see their parents again until six years later.

God Has A Plan

David's story is a powerful reminder that even in the darkest places we are never alone.

Even though David was held captive that did not stop God's plan for his life.  God began to shape David's spiritual journey from within the walls of the prison camp.

A man by the name of Eric Liddell was sent to the same concentration camp as young David.  Many of you may remember that name from the award winning film Chariots of Fire. This Olympic Champion quickly became a hero of faith to David.  

Eric Liddell Biography

"Uncle Eric" became a father figure to the boys and a glimmer of excitement in the midst of the devastation of war.

Just like David, God has a plan for our lives.  He places unexpected people along our path to bring us comfort, hope and help in our time of need.

The Gift of Wonder and Play

Similar to the account of Ann Frank, David experienced the war through the eyes of a child.  David was still an adventurous boy who loved to play.

This struck me as such a powerful lesson in life.

Have you ever noticed that it is almost impossible to play and also be anxious or afraid all at the same time?

When I am in pain or frightened I look for the quickest escape route.  I exhaust myself with worry and grasp to regain some sense of control over my circumstances.  I falsely believe that if I smile or enjoy myself that it is somehow wrong or irreverent.   

I wonder what would happen if instead I surrendered with a child like trust and dared to play just like young David?


Gratitude Sets Us Free

On the last day of our trip we sat in the living room of the Ten Boom family hearing the stories of Corrie giving thanks for the fleas and vermin in the concentration camp.


Corrie Ten Boom
God had a plan to use their horrific sleeping conditions for His purposes. The fleas kept their captors away and Corrie was able to keep her Bible hidden in order to continue to share God's word with the other women in the camp.


David was also able to recognize the gifts of God despite the hardships of captivity, separation, malnutrition and death. He was grateful for Eric Liddell and for his teachers in the camp who took care of him.

David Michell 
David was also extremely thankful for the seven American GI's who parachuted into the internment camp to rescue them.


Photo:  Signed parachute of the seven American GI's who resecued David and others in the Weihsien Concentration Camp

There is tremendous power in living with gratitude.
  
It is a thankful heart that helps the soul to heal. Gratitude releases us from the cords of fear and bitterness.  Thanksgiving is the armor to fight injustice and wounds that shake our faith. 


Extend God's Outrageous Grace

I have not known the devastation of war like the stories of Ann, Corrie or David.  Yet there have been times in my life where I have lived in a different type of captivity and torment.

I am quick to panic or be discouraged when circumstances seem hopeless and out of my control.  I am guilty of rehearsing painful wounds.  I even struggle at times to forgive over insignificant matters that have held me in bondage.  

David had every excuse to live life fearful and bitter with walls of protection around him.  He did not know if he would see his family ever again.  He did not know where his next meal would come from.  He did not know if he would live as he watched others who did not make it out of the concentration camp alive.

David was able to live in freedom because he devoted his life to trusting the One who is faithful in all circumstances.

The most incredible part of David's story was not just how he handled the years of captivity, but what he chose in his years of freedom.

David dedicated his life as a missionary (he served with Overseas Missionary Fellowship which was the former China Inland Mission).  

What is remarkable about this decision was the place that David chose to serve. 

David lived reconciliation and forgiveness in an extraordinary way. He chose to go to Japan to minister and care for the souls of those who had held him and his sister captive.  Now that is truly powerful!

Many of us struggle to forgive.   Many of us choose to forgive, but never forget.  The truth is that most of us protect ourselves from those who hurt us rather than devote our lives to serving them.

Not David!

David received the grace God gave to him and in return freely extended it to those in Japan. 

~
It has been an honour to introduce you to one of my own heroes of faith - David Michell, my Father In Law.

Sadly, I never had the opportunity to meet Dad in person.  However, I am convinced I do know him through my husband's humility, strength, generousity and grace.   

It is my hope that through sharing Dad's story we will all be inspired to live with gratitude and in freedom by extending God's outrageous grace everywhere we go.

No matter what circumstances you currently find yourself in, take courage and remember the words of Corrie ...

"God does not have problems.  Only plans."
  
Thank you Dad Michell for being a light in my life!

May your light always shine on!

August 17, 2015 was the 70th anniversary of the liberation.

Here are some photos of my husband (Kenneth) and Mum (Joan Michell) being interviewed in our home for the documentary - Weifang Forgotten Concentration Camp by Producer Elaine Yau of Innowave Limited.





Thank you to Elaine and her incredible team for ensuring these stories are heard and never forgotten!












2 comments:

  1. Dear Nicole, having had a busy summer with student guests and a mission trip, I missed reading my favourite blogs. Tonight I sat down with a cup of tea for the great treat of a little catching up. Oh, my goodness, treat upon treat awaited me here. You went to the Netherlands! And the places I loved so much, too! I so loved reading your thoughts and how these places and people affected you. And then the story of David Michell was so fascinating and you tied in his story so beautifully to Corrie and Ann's. What a surprise to find that this man was your father-in-law--and that he knew Eric Liddell. What a rich heritage you and Kenneth have. I did not know that Eric Liddell was in a concentration camp, and now I have yet another book on my wish list. Nicole, keep writing. You do it so beautifully, and I am the richer for having dropped by. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't tell you how blessed I am not only that you take the time to read the posts, but that you have been so personally encouraging. It means so much coming from you who I admire so much. I know you recently took a trip with your family - so I was thinking of you as we travelled and enjoyed the beautiful people, places and or course the stories from their history. Thank you Belinda!

    ReplyDelete

Rocks Of Remembrance

"When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua,   “Choose twelve men from among the people, one fr...