Thea's Story--Part 2
Aug 26, 2009
Everyone in the basement of the church was required to make the decision of their life with little time to think about it. Twelve-year-old Thea recalled that there were close to 3,000 people. Their choice was to deny Jesus by walking out, or remain there, indicating a stand for Jesus Christ. To her recollection, no one left the church.
"I remember, too, how those shots began again. And row by row, row by row, the people were shot down. The bodies fell here and there. There was blood all over, and screaming. It was a terrible nightmarish thing. I closed my eyes and tried to think only of that little boy that I had met when I was four years old. And I said, 'Here I am. If this is my day to be a butterfly, take me'.
"My eyes were closed. I could feel the man next to me being shot, and I was next. He fell against me heavily, and I was pushed against a very heavy metal door which was never opened and wasn't about to open at this point either. I was crushed against it by the weight of his body, and I held my eyes tightly closed, waiting for the next shot. But it never came.
"After a second or so, or perhaps a minute, I don't know how long, I opened half an eye to find I was no longer inside the church. I was on the other side of that metal door. God had literally translated me through a metal door about a foot thick.
"I was stunned. I opened my eyes and did not know where I was or how I got there. I was in shock. And there was a young man. . . I could recognize him as the same One that I had seen as a child, but now he was in his twenties. He touched my arm and said, 'Don't be afraid. You are to live' . . . He took me by the hand and showed me a little alley and told me to run and not to look back.
"I ran all the way home, never looking back. As far as I know, I'm the only one who survived that massacre, because God deigned to literally translate me or allow my body to be so changed that it could go through a wall.
"For many years I could not tell this, for any time that I mentioned it, they would say I was crazy, or had imagined it, or it could not be" . . . .
"But this was only the beginning of what turned out to be a long journey. Very soon the Gestapo was informed where I was staying, and it was imperative that I leave. Through the Underground, I was brought to a railway station and to a railroad car and to another miracle. Both my father and mother had been rescued out of their imprisonments and were there to meet me. I soon found that the train was to leave Austria for Paris.
"My parents were robed as peasants to disguise their identity. I was put in a blanket, wrapped, and put in the baggage compartment which was in the same coach with my parents. . . I was placed on top of suitcases and baggage rolls, and I laid there quietly, looking just like another baggage roll, I guess. I was told to be very quiet and not make any sound.
"About one or two hours after this, it was getting dark, and we were passing the frontier, going into Germany. The Gestapo, aware that my parents and I had escaped, were searching all railroad cars. They stopped the train and went through all the compartments, the soldiers with their knives, and their bayonets at the end of their guns were poking here and there.
"They came into the compartment where my parents were sitting. My father, dressed as an Italian peasant, spoke Italian and acted drunk. My mother was still very good at crying, so she started crying again.
"But they were on the alert for three of us. If there was suspicion, they needed to prove my presence. As the others left, one determined soldier started prodding with his bayonet in the baggage compartment. My mother held her breath as she saw him plunge his bayonet into the blanket roll that held me. I felt a very cold blade against my arm, but no blood, no injury. He grunted a swear word and left, never knowing he had touched anything. And again I was saved.
"Another miracle awaited us when we reached Holland. The Dutch Underground, which was tremendous in those days and helped many people escape, arranged our passage on a boat called the Old Statendam. . .
"We were put in among a lot of cargo going from Holland to the United States. In that cargo were many treasures of Holland--gold, valuable paintings and artifacts that the Dutch people were trying to save from the Nazis before they would invade Holland completely.
"We were afraid at first, but after we had sailed through the English Channel, our confidence rose. . . We were just beginning to rejoice when the captain called us all on the top deck and said, 'I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but you must put on your life jackets. We've just been surrounded by six U-boats, and there is no way we can escape death now unless our God gives us a real miracle. I ask you all to pray to Him as you know how'.
"There on the deck we all huddled together in little groups and prayed, asking, 'God, why have You brought us so far and now put us into such jeopardy?'
"It was then I shared for the first time with my mother and father what had happened to me. At first, they wouldn't believe it, but I said, 'Look, I am here, and that metal door hasn't opened for centuries; there was no way it could open. Other people died; I came out. You see me here. You've got to believe.' I shared again with a few other people, and more gathered together and prayed. They agreed, 'Alright, God, if You could do that for this little girl, You can get us out of this mess, too.'
"As we started praying more, and the people started calming down and calling unto God in the way they knew how, all of a sudden a heavy fog came and enveloped the whole boat. And we sat in that fog. The lights and the engines were turned off, and we were told not to stir. The captain said, 'This may be our only hope, to sit in this fog, and maybe they'll lose us.'
"So we sat in that fog for a long time. Later we realized it was two days and two nights. On the third morning the fog lifted. As it lifted, we saw land. The captain couldn't understand at first what land it was. He thought perhaps we had drifted back to England, where the U-boats had surrounded us. He took measurements and sightings and tried to call on the radio. He finally determined that we had come to Newfoundland, Canada. The whole ship was literally translated (moved) from England to Newfoundland in two and a half days--without engines!"
Both Thea and I later met a Dutch lady in Texas who remembered this "Miracle Ship," because the story had been written in an Amsterdam newspaper. In her later years she moved to Washington State north of Seattle to spend her remaining years near her children. I knew her for over ten years before she died, and she was a faithful prayer warrior all her life.
Thea continues, "And so we reached the United States. For us it was really the Promised Land, because we had gone through so many difficulties and so many tribulations. But God, having brought us through it, brought us through it in victory, and in love, and was giving us a new home and a new vision which I will share with you."
As we enter the difficulties and tribulation of our own time, let us remember that the same God is with us. Though he seldom takes us out of danger, He is strong to deliver us in the midst of danger. He leads us THROUGH the valley of the Shadow of Death--not around it. It is in difficult times that He proves Himself faithful. For this reason we ought to strengthen our relationship with Him and know Him as our personal Friend.
This is the second part of a series titled "Thea's Story." To view all parts, click the link below.