Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Youth Page

Written by Peter Langbroek
It was a bright, spring day when Peter biked from school down Yale Road. He passed Carleton Street. The house was coming up. He saw Tony biking on the other side of the road. Peter stopped his bike. ÒHi Tony!Ó he shouted. Tony smiled and waved as he turned into the driveway of his home. Peter looked at the front door. Next to the door was the word, Ebenezer. He knew why it was there. His teacher and his mom told him.

It began in 1942 in Java, an island of Indonesia. TonyÕs mom was hurled into an experience she would live with for the rest of her life. During World War II, the Japanese invaded the island where her father and mother worked as schoolteachers of a Christian school in Bandung. TonyÕs mom was born there. She loved her town, home, school, and the surrounding rice paddies and green hills.

But peace was shattered when the Japanese ordered her family into the cattle car of a train, off to a prisoner of war camp, deep into the jungle, far from any village. Her father and two brothers were later sent to another camp. Where they were and how they were doing, she and her mother did not know. Life in the camp, secured by barbed wire and guards with guns, had no hope or future. Everyone had to live a moment at a time.

No Bibles, paper, books, or radios were allowed. They could not gather to worship the Lord. All TonyÕs mom could cling to was what she had learned at school, what she had sung in church, what her parents had taught her, and, yes, the Bible verses she had to memorize. She often remembered the verse: ÒWho shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For thy sake, we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep to the slaughter" (Romans 8: 36).

ÒWe will meet at the clotheslines,Ó her mother told her one Christmas day. Without causing suspicion to the guards, she, her mother, and some friends met between one large bed sheet on one line, another on another line. There, a mission doctor led a service. He spoke softly. Then they prayed and quietly hummed psalms and hymns.

A dear friend, strong in trust and love for God, wrote verses on a piece of bamboo that she had copied from another bamboo stock from a Bible carefully hidden in the shack where she and others were crowded in. TheyÕd take those sticks and pass them around.

"How will we get out of here? Will we live through this? Will I see my dad and brothers again?" They had no answers. It seemed so unreal. But they knew the Lord. Their hope was to simply trust Him every moment.

When Peter looked at the word "Ebenezer," 28 years had passed since TonyÕs mom had been freed. By GodÕs mercy, her family, though sickly, and her father with tuberculosis, nevertheless were reunited, went to Holland, and recovered.

It was also 5 years since TonyÕs mom called the carpenter to have the letters screwed on the house, near the front door. They had gone through more difficult times. TonyÕs dad had died. They had returned from Terrace, B.C.--she and her four children, all under the age of nine. She would have to work to provide for her children. "How will God help us?" she wondered. A hymn kept coming into her mind:

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help IÕm come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood

God has helped me, and He will help me, she thought. And I will tell the world that this is so.

For a few moments, Peter sat still on his bike. Then, he continued, biking past G.V. Valley Motors, to his home. Between his home and school stood "Ebenezer" --Until this moment God has helped us.

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Remembering God
When I visited TonyÕs mom a few weeks ago, what struck me was how important it is to memorize texts, Psalters and hymns. Memorizing is not only important for the present, but also for times you will experience when a Bible or Psalter isnÕt available or even allowed, as in her case. I hope and pray that by doing the exercise below, you will learn another text that teaches us to meditate on the works of God.

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