Remembering. It’s vital to our Christian faith. Remembering, as the Jews do, the miraculous works of Yahweh in history. Remembering Jesus’ suffering and what He accomplished on the cross. And remembering the heroes of the faith who’ve gone before us.
An excellent example of this kind of remembrance is Hebrews 11. It’s a veritable faith hall of fame. After extolling the astounding faith of figures like Noah and Abraham and Joseph and even Rahab the prostitute, the author of Hebrews has us where he wants us: Inspired. So he begins chapter 12 with this charge: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses . . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
That’s the power of remembering God’s servants who have gone before us. And that’s why Dr. Glenn Sunshine writes his “Christians Who Changed Their World” columns at ColsonCenter.org. But Glenn doesn’t focus in on the big names. He’s on a mission to introduce the church to lesser known but equally significant heroes of the faith.
His latest column is about André and Magda Trocmé, two French Protestants who committed themselves to doing the right thing no matter the cost. And in 1940s France, the right thing to do was to save Jews.
The Trocmés lived in Le Chambon in Vichy France—a part of France not occupied by the Nazis, but run by the collaborationist French Vichy government. André was a Huguenot pastor and a committed pacifist.
After the defeat of France in 1940, André and Magda heard a knock on the door. It was a Jewish woman fleeing from the Nazis, desperately needing help. Magda tried to secure false papers for her, but the mayor was no help. He also warned Magda that if the Germans found out anyone was helping Jews, the entire village would suffer.
That only inspired Magda and André all the more. As Glenn describes in his column, “Pastor Trocmé began to exhort his congregation to shelter the ‘People of the Book’ who were fleeing Nazi persecution. He told them, ‘We shall resist whenever our adversaries demand of us obedience contrary to the orders of the gospel.’”
Church members began volunteering to hide Jews. They also created an underground network to get Jews safely across the Swiss border. Vichy officials caught on and eventually tipped off the Germans—who searched Le Chambon and found nothing.
Finally, Vichy officials demanded that Trocmé stop his activities. André was blunt: “These people came here for help and shelter. I am their shepherd. A shepherd does not forsake his flock. I do not know what a Jew is. I only know human beings.”
Eventually, André was arrested and sent to a detention camp but was released after ten days. He spent the rest of the war underground. But Le Chambon’s rescue operation continued.
What Glenn calls a “conspiracy of goodness” saved an untold number of Jewish lives. In fact, not one Jew was caught in Le Chambon during the entire war.
Why did these French Christians risk all to save Jews? In a post-war documentary, one villager simply said, “We didn’t protect the Jews because we were a moral or heroic people. We helped them because it was the human thing to do.”
There’s one fascinating element to this story that I only want to hint at because I’d love for you to read it yourself. The French Protestants, known as Huguenots, were themselves victims of savage persecution by the French Catholic monarchy during the 16th and 17th centuries. One method of survival they used played a major role in the Trocmés rescue of the Jews. You’ve got to read about it. Come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary.
And to receive future articles by Dr. Glenn Sunshine on Christians Who Changed Their World, subscribe to our weekly “Christian Worldview Journal” newsletter. That too, is at BreakPoint.org.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
Publication date: June 3, 2016