Watch the Sermon Illustration Video Length 3:57 Minutes
I’m always amazed at how a video camera and microphone can open up opportunities to learn about your friends in ways that might never happen otherwise. People somehow give you a license to ask them questions that at other times could be considered invasive or awkward.
Last year for Easter, I interviewed some folks to ask about what sacrifices people have made for them. I brought the tapes back to my tiny studio and watched the footage on my computer screen trying to see how I could make a connection to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It quickly became obvious this wasn’t to be a video about Easter it was a video about Mothers!
One of my friends that I spoke to was Catharina. Catharina grew up in Romania in the 1960s. I didn’t know her full story until I asked the simple question, “Has anyone ever given something up for you?” I was blown away with the privilege of hearing her gripping story.
Catharina told in me her beautiful Romanian accent about how her mother and father had been farmers in an impoverished, and yet, particularly picturesque village. (If anyone thinks we have economic hardships today they need to hear this story!) This village was a place with such poverty that they only had one television in the town. Everyone would go to watch TV at the local school when they heard a good program was going to be on that night. Daily they would wait in long lines into the night to purchase the scarce and rationed food they could afford. They not only had very little but electric power was rationed and sporatic.
Crime was commonplace. Catharina’s grandfather had to sleep in a shed on his vineyard to guard the produce from thieves. One night he came close to death when burglars took pitchforks and stabbed at the hay he was hiding under trying to kill him. By a miracle they missed him by inches and deduced that he wasn’t there. Another time they burned down the shed hoping to kill him in his sleep and take possession of the vineyard. By God’s grace that was a night he chose to sleep in the main house.
Catharina’s mother had been raised by Godly parents in an earlier time when religion was actually taught in the schools. Her mother’s exposure to the Bible and prayer brought her mother to a close relationship with Christ. Prayer was common in their home. Catharina grew up hearing her mother pray for a half hour before breakfast, daily. Her parents and grandparents prayed for their village, constantly. It comes as no surprise that the village was one of the few to be on an list of places to be spared destruction.
There was no religion permitted in the schools when it came time for Catharina to attend. However, throughout her life she listened to stories from her mother and grandparents of how God protected his children through his power in the lives of Daniel, Moses and others. Catharina thought this is really a great God!
Due to the danger and oppression Catharina’s parents submitted the papers to request permission to leave the country even though it would mean leaving their Godly parents and beloved village. For nearly 16 years they were rejected and denied permission to leave. Some Romanians were permitted to leave to Germany but it was unheard of for anyone to be allowed to emigrate to the US. Catharina began to dream of leaving Romania when the corn would be at a certain height. She felt that was God telling her when to be ready to go. She shared this dream with her mother.
One day, when Catharina was a teenager, they received news that they were granted their request to go to the United States. Catharina’s mother considered it a miracle of God! A blessing from the sky! Catharina realized the corn had reached the height in her earlier dream. She now realizes God was preparing them and waiting for the right time for their departure in his plan on His eternal clock.
Her parents made the sacrifice of leaving their family and friends and homeland to give their two children the opportunity to live a life of freedom. They left everyone they knew, including the dear parents who led them to Christ, not knowing if they would ever be able to see them again. Unsure if the permission would be revoked, they quickly packed, said their goodbyes, and ran toward freedom.
Although her mother went to be with the Lord 11 years ago, Catharina says the lessons she taught still speak to her today.
Mother was a wise woman, we lived a simple life. Mom trusted God. He calmed her during the storms of hard times and travel. We hardly ever saw money growing up! We learned money is not what you need. Enjoy people. Care for and love each other. Make it a priority to help people. People come first. Things are fake and plastic. How I grew up made me a different person. It taught me what is really important!
Catharina, or as her American friends call her, Cathy, has graciously allowed me to share her poem of her pilgrimage to freedom:
In You I Trust for All My Days
It’s a blessing in my life,
It’s a blessing from the sky.
No more rejection or denials
You freed me from up high;
You led me from the sky.
You walked ahead,
And calmed the storm.
You formed my path
So I could run.
You brought the sun
After much rain.
When times had peaked,
For me you reached
And took my hand.
And at its best
You led me
From east to west.
You rescued me from much despair
I just knew heaven was there.
To you, O Lord,
I must give thanks,
I must praise you a million times
For your unfailing love and grace.
For I have seen your loving hand
Indicating the time on that clock
Because you are an omnipotent God!
Watch the Sermon Illustration Video Length 3:57 Minutes
Poem: Copyright 2009-2010. Used with Permission.