Of Racism, Hitler Youth, and the Need to Share

My earliest memories of my grandfather are vivid. After Sunday afternoon walks with the family we sometimes ended up in the Gasthaus, a quaint local gathering place in the middle of the village. The adults would sit with beer and wine and talked, while the kids played outside, often until late into the evening. First, conversations were peaceful and centered around the family. Later, when the Schnaps came out, my grandfather turned louder and less polite, cursing and going on about his hate of Jews.

He had grown up in a dysfunctional family. He had no anchor at home, no father who cared for him. Hitler’s propaganda and lies fell into fertile soil. The seed of hate was fed by the Hitler Youth, and later the German Army. All those provided my grandfather with a purpose and a place of belonging, an evil and wicked place.

Many years later, after I had moved to the States, I learned about Jesus and placed my trust in Him. I wrote my grandfather a letter telling him about God and His plan for him. He was ill with a lung disease. The letter arrived one day after he passed away. He never heard about the forgiveness of God in Jesus, at least not from me. I blamed myself for many years after that, for not having spoken up to him and for not having shared at a time he would have been able to listen.

Jesus Christ has promised us a place of belonging and purpose. In Him we find everything our hearts long for. Yet as Christians we fail to share the cure and fail to point the way to the place of belonging. We encounter many lost souls, many who are searching for a place of belonging and identity. Before Satan fills them with His counterfeit, let’s go and share about our King and Messiah, Jesus Christ, who came to show us the way to God.

march 31st sunrise 035I have come into the world as light,
so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
John 12:46
~
(Heidi Viars, 2016)

About Heidi Viars

β€œIf you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth ...” ― C.S. Lewis ..... In my pursuit of self, I found utter darkness. In my pursuit of truth, I found Jesus, who dispelled the darkness by His forgiveness. Now I follow Him and try to understand Him better. I am a wife, mother of 6, blogger and love taking photographs of sunrises.
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29 Responses to Of Racism, Hitler Youth, and the Need to Share

  1. Thank you for sharing this painful lesson learned and challenge to all to share God’s wonderful message of forgiveness and hope for every soul no matter what they have done.

    • Heidi Viars says:

      Thank you for reading and responding with a word of encouragement! Blessings to you on your journey as God shows you where and how to share His amazing love and forgiveness πŸ™‚

  2. A very powerful post, Heidi!
    For many years I’ve had a strange fascination with Hitler and the Nazis. I read books, watch documentaries and movies… I’ve always wanted to know how a large percentage of the most technically advanced nation on earth could be brainwashed by this little man spewing hatred. Dietrich Bonhoeffer became one of my heroes. He places much of the blame on the weakness of the church in Germany.
    It could happen again, maybe even in America if economic conditions become bad and a leader rises up with a scapegoat to blame the problems on… This time the scapegoat might be Christians instead of Jews.
    The church needs revival – we can’t be weak anymore.

    • Heidi Viars says:

      I wish I could have better expressed my reason for writing this post. Why do we not speak of God’s Truth, when we know that people without God can be capable of such horrendous things?

      You just hit the nail on the head for what I tried to express. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was right, the Church was quiet and did not want to take up her cross. Only a few did. Most of them died in concentration camps.

      May God continue to give us wisdom and urge us to pray for the Holy Spirit to move. He restrains evil from taking over, in our hearts, homes, and country. The more we ignore Him, the more we see us living in our own consequences. Ultimately God’s wrath has to put an end to it. Let’s continue to stand in the gap, Bill. As Jesus intercedes for our hearts, let’s ask God to remember mercy in His wrath and help us to share Jesus Christ the best we can, and to obey the Holy Spirit.

      Again, you inspire my heart. You walk in the Spirit and you speak the Truth as you run the race. Thanks for suffering well, Bill πŸ™‚

      • Amen, Heidi.
        It’s tempting to generalize a race or religion that doesn’t see things our way – Jesus even had to teach the apostles not to give into that temptation.
        We must remember that God is in control – vengeance belongs to Him.

  3. melodylowes says:

    Thank you for sharing this! When we are children, we little know or understand the motivations or the actions of those around us. I am thankful for a heart which feels a missed opportunity – but also know that guilt can lead us off onto a rabbit-trail, when all is Jesus, only Jesus. Let the pinch remain only to propel you in love to do whatever else He may lay at your door as opportunity… Hugs to you!

    • Heidi Viars says:

      Thank you, Melody! Your words are always like a beautiful gem to me. Yes, may we be propelled by what we see in the world today to share the good news. I know the Holy Spirit can move our hearts to see where and when! May He also give us the boldness to obey. Thanks for stopping in … maybe one day it can be over a cup of good German coffee πŸ™‚

  4. Debbie says:

    Thank you, dear Heidi, for reminding us to share when we can and trust Him when we don’t! Somehow I got disconnected with you and haven’t been receiving your posts. Hope to fix that now and pray that you and yours are well!

    • Heidi Viars says:

      I am so grateful that you re-connected πŸ™‚ Thank you for praying for us. The whole bunch is doing well. I always so appreciate you kind words of encouragement and love. Be blessed, dear Debbie

  5. cshowers says:

    Very wise words. I understand your pain and your regret, because I, too, have experienced something similar. Thank you for being so open and honest, and for speaking the truth in love to us. God bless you!

  6. Nancy Ruegg says:

    I agree with Mel: God most assuredly gave your grandfather opportunities to hear the gospel because He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9 — a verse you undoubtedly know!) I have a sense your message reached him by other means, Heidi, even if your letter did not. I agree with Mel’s conclusion, too. Your grandfather may very well be at the gate to welcome you to heaven, because (as Mel’s story proves) God’s ways are unsearchable and beyond tracing out (Romans 11:33). I agree with Mel’s challenge to us, too: We must share the love of Jesus with people when we get the chance. It’s a sacred trust! i needed the reminder, presented in this post. Thank you, Heidi!

    • Heidi Viars says:

      Thanks, dear Nancy, for your loving comment. I so appreciate you and what you have to say. I wrote a rather long comment back to Mel. Please read my response there, too πŸ™‚ I praise God that I don’t live under the condemnation of not having shared with my grandfather any longer, but rather under a conviction to take the great commission more seriously. One life, given completely to Jesus can bring immeasurable fruit. One the other hand, one life filled with the lies of the enemy can inflict unimaginable pain.
      Thanks for all that you do, Nancy, to spread the love of Jesus Christ. I know, with the Holy Spirit involved, it will prove to be fruitful for God πŸ™‚

  7. Mel Wild says:

    Amen Heidi. Thanks for sharing your grandfather story. I want to encourage you with my story. I had the same thing happen to me with my father (22 years ago). His wife (my step-mom), a hardened atheist, was very protective of my dad and would never let me tell him about Jesus so I pretty much gave up. He lived in Florida and I lived in Chicago at the time, so we didn’t get many opportunities. Then, when he had a stroke and was hospitalize, I had the perfect chance but didn’t take it. He died shortly after I went back home to Chicago. I felt so bad and was filled with regret.. But later, at the funeral, my step-mom said that he had been watching Billy Graham the night I left and gave his life to Jesus! She gave her life to Christ at the funeral (the first one I ever officiated). She died a year later. I bring this up because perhaps the same kind of thing happened for your grandfather. God is so good at reaching the unreachable, even if He has to do it Himself (happens a lot in the Middle East).

    We should share the love of Jesus with people when we get the chance, but who knows, you just might meet your grandfather one day. πŸ™‚

    • Heidi Viars says:

      Thank you, Mel, for your kind and encouraging comment. I wrote this post after a long conversation I had with my mother (in Germany) about the recent events that unfolded in Europe. Looking at the tragedies in Munich and Normandy, along with the racial tensions and political mayhem in our country, I have been thinking much about the sickness that plaques mankind (and my own heart) and the cure. I often wonder, especially when I see strangers, what their lives look like to God. It compels me to share Christ and the only hope we have. I often wonder what my grandfather’s life would have looked like (along with the lives of his children) had someone shared Jesus with him early on. What about all those he hurt by his hate and radical convictions.

      We live in a day where the cost of not sharing is high. With access to so many harmful things, one person has incredible power to inflict terrible pains on others. So the need to share, even with ONE, is so important.

      I attended a VOM conference yesterday. I was left with the most incredible hope and a new sense of urgency. Our bothers and sisters all over the world are wiling to pay such a high price and are being tortured for Christ. Their willingness to suffer for the sake of the Gospel has inspired me to take up my own cross. I know God can do all this work on his own, without me, even better, but He has chosen to use us, the foolish things of the world to show His mighty power and most of all His love.

      Thanks so much, Mel, for allowing me to share, for reading, and for loving Jesus. I pray many will come to saving faith in Christ because of your obedience.

      • Mel Wild says:

        Amen. The world desperately needs to know the love of Jesus, not only spoken but demonstrated through us. And we need to let His love overwhelm out our fear of sharing it. Blessings to you.

  8. Heidi, I love that you explained your grandfather’s background…your heart of understanding and grace toward his memory is a beautiful picture of God’s grace toward his children. Thank you for sharing!

    • Heidi Viars says:

      I had thought about it for a long time. It seems that we all are not too far away from being those who could inflict terrible harm on others. I am so grateful for God’s amazing grace to help me understand that my sin was paid for on the cross. I thank you, Patty, for leaving me with your kind words. Be blessed as you share with those around you.

  9. Debbie M. says:

    One of the Scriptures that has always caught my attention is the parable about the empty house: Matthew 12:43-45. It is not enough to clean up a “house,” we need to fill it with good things (God) so that Satan can not take it over. Your post was a wonderful reminder that it is not enough to help people move past prejudices, we need to tell them about Jesus!

    • Heidi Viars says:

      I agree with you, Debbie. Just before the verse you quoted, Jesus said in Matthew 12:35 “The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.” (ESV)
      Thanks for reading and sharing!

  10. What a spectacular photo! Not to mention a story to remember…….Jacquie

  11. blmaluso says:

    Thank you for your honest sharing, and for the reminder to share the light of Jesus with all who live in darkness. Blessings, peace and love to you:-)
    Bernadette

  12. Thank you Heidi. I do so appreciate you!

  13. Heidi, what a humbling post. In sharing your grief of the memories of your grandfather, may those who are reading this either bless many because of this message, and/or in turn be blessed themselves. God bless.

    • Heidi Viars says:

      Thank you Liana, for reading and commenting. This was almost 20 years ago. My heart hurts for the world. Let’s share our Hope and keep Satan from filling empty spaces with his darkness.

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