Helga Page was born on April 2, 1945, in the barracks of Dachau, a concentration camp in southern Germany. Her birth occurred nine months after her mother was raped by a German prison guard.
Her parents were not Jewish; they were imprisoned because of their opposition to the Nazis. Her mother hid her under the garbage so German soldiers would not kill them both. Twenty-seven days after her birth, Dachau was liberated.
Helga was sick with typhoid fever and appeared to be close to death, so she was taken to a German hospital and then placed in an orphanage. Six years later, her mother, Agnes, was able to care for her. Agnes had married an American soldier by that time; he brought Agnes and Helga to the United States, where she grew up.
Known as the “Miracle Baby of Dachau,” Helga Page died last Thursday at the age of seventy-four.
Remembering the Shoah
I have led study tours in Israel more than thirty times over the years. Each time, the Lord speaks to me in a very personal way. After returning yesterday from our latest Holy Land pilgrimage, an image has stayed in my mind and soul.
Sunday afternoon, our group visited Yad Vashem, the memorial in Israel dedicated to the victims of the Shoah. Most people call this tragedy the holocaust, but Jews are quick to note that holocaust signifies a “sacrifice,” which would mean that the Nazis sacrificed six million people to God.
They did nothing of the kind—they murdered six million people.
Shoah is a Hebrew word that means catastrophe and signifies the worst, most horrific possible outcome of an event. The term is appropriate for the attempted extermination of the Jewish people by Hitler and the Nazis.
A face I cannot forget
One building in Yad Vashem is called the “Children’s Memorial.” Hollowed out from an underground cavern, it is a tribute to the 1.5 million Jewish children who were murdered during the Shoah.
Five candles are placed in the darkened room and reflected on mirrors to produce 1.5 million lights that surround the person walking through the memorial. The names of murdered children, their ages, and their countries of origin are heard in the background.
The Memorial was made possible by the donation of Abe and Edita Spiegel, whose son Uziel was murdered in Auschwitz at the age of two-and-a-half years. A likeness of Uziel’s face is visible above the hallway leading into the Memorial.
Each time I walk through, I grieve for such an unspeakable tragedy. This time, however, was especially poignant for me: it was the first time I had visited the Children’s Memorial since the birth of my grandchildren. As I think today about Uziel’s face, the faces of my granddaughter and three grandsons come to mind and my heart breaks.
Not the only “miracle baby”
I believe our Father wants us to see every hurting person as if they were a member of our family—because they are. He wants us to care as much for the welfare of those we don’t know as for those we know well.
He wants us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6) as fervently today as if it were eighty years ago and the Nazis were on the rise. As we noted yesterday, the escalation of anti-Semitism in our time should alarm and grieve us all.
He also wants us to love Gentiles as much as Jews, knowing that in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female” (Galatians 3:28). Jesus died for “the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2) because his Father “so loved the world” (John 3:16).
Helga Page was not the only “miracle baby” born into the world. So are you. And so is the next person you see.
God will lead you where he can best use you
Here’s the problem: reading the news each day and caring for all those who are suffering can lead quickly to compassion fatigue. If we seek to love every hurting soul, we can end up loving none. We can become callous to the pain of others as a defense mechanism and lose our heart for those God loves.
This was my challenge in Israel. Every Jewish person I met is someone who needs to trust in Jesus as his or her Messiah. Every lost person in the airplanes in which I flew home and in the airports through which I traveled needs Christ. Every lost person I meet today needs Jesus as his or her Savior.
If you’re like me, you can become overwhelmed by the lostness of the world. If we can’t reach them all, why try to reach any?
Here’s the good news: the Holy Spirit is preparing today those he wants you to influence tomorrow. He will lead you where he can best use you. If you will ask him for your kingdom assignment today, he’ll make it clear. And day by day, you’ll do what only you can do and touch the souls you are meant to touch.
If you reach those you are called to reach, and I do the same, and the other 2.2 billion Christians on the planet follow our example, how long would it take to reach the world?