I heard this true story first hand about three years ago. The following true incident happened in the summer of 2008.
An American family was recently vacationing in Prague. Early one morning, the father went to an outdoor cafe before the other family members awoke. He began visiting with an elderly Czech man who said, “I have a story to tell you … it is an important story. It means so much to me that I tell it to everyone I meet.”
The elderly man began telling the American the story of an incident that happened to him when he was 12 years old. As a young boy, he was put on a train to visit his grandmother in the mountains of what was then Czechoslovakia. When the young boy found a seat and began looking around, he realized that the train was filled with Jewish people of all ages.
A Jewish gentleman curiously made his way to the 12-year-old boy and said, “What is your name? Let me see your papers!” The youngster willingly told his name, and he proceeded to dig through his tattered satchel to locate his official identity papers.
Upon reading the papers and learning of the boy’s name, the man approached the Nazi guard on board. “Please let this boy go. He is not one of us.” The Nazi guard angrily told the man to sit down and be quiet!
In a few minutes, the Jewish man regained his courage and approached the guard again. “Please, sir — this young boy is not one of us. Please let him go!” The Nazi guard slapped the man across his face, and fiercely pushed him into his seat, threatening him to remain silent or he would be severely punished.
Even facing physical punishment and possible death, the Jewish man stood, straightened his worn clothes, and walked courageously to the Nazi guard. “Sir, you must check your records. This young boy is not one of us. Here are his papers. I think you will find that you have one extra boy on board this train who does not belong here.”
Seeing that the Jewish man would continue to be persistent, the Nazi guard grabbed the identity papers of the young boy, and compared the papers to the official government roster which he held. Just as the Jewish man had said, there was one extra 12-year-old boy on board. At the next stop, not even knowing the name of the town, the young boy was pushed off the train, only to try to figure out his own way to his destination.
As he was looking up at the train from the ground below, the young boy saw the Jewish man who had negotiated his release. “Young man!” the Jewish man called out to him. “Never forget the story of what happened to you today. And please, never forget my face.” The train vanished in the night.
The young boy learned the destination of that train. It was headed to a concentration camp where millions of Jewish people lost their lives. The boy never forgot what the old Jewish man did for him.
I heard this true story and I thought of my relationship with Christ. For the Christian, we must never forget Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We must tell our own personal testimonies of redemption! Not only must we pass on our personal stories but we must live in such a way that we unashamedly and unmistakably tell our story by the actions of our lives. It means telling the story every chance we get. Then our words about the story have some meaning because the actions of our life verify the story.
What is your story?
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: