Love Your Enemies

Monday, May 5, 2014
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Listen while you read: "Am I A Soldier Of The Cross"1 (Lyrics)

Proverbs 16:7 – When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies be at peace with him. (NKJV)

On May 5th, the people in the Netherlands will remember that 69 years ago, the Second World War, or at least the five-year occupation, ended. There will be flags out everywhere. There will be a number of veterans from Canada present as well, although as time goes by, there are fewer and fewer who can make the trip. But for all present, the end of the Second World War is a great event to be remembered, and it is therefore still celebrated every year—a great celebration which is now being passed on from generation to generation.

On June 6th, there will be great gatherings in and around Normandy in France. Dignitaries and authorities will come from miles around and from many countries to remember the invasion of that part of Europe on that day in 1944: D-Day, as we call it. A number of old veterans will return who were there seventy years ago. That will be a great event, too. I have heard of some people from this area who are planning to go.

All these events accentuate the terrible price paid by the people at the time, the liberators as well as the liberated. But so little is ever said about the occupiers and the hardships that they went through.

From 1967 until 1970, we lived in Vienna, Austria, and for four years, I went to a local barber to get my hair cut. As we got to know each other, I found out that during the war years, he was stationed in the Netherlands as one of the occupiers. He told me how much the Dutch people hated him and would have nothing to do with him. They did not even like it when he went to the local church to celebrate mass. He was an Austrian and was conscripted into the German army after the annexation in March of 1938. He did not want to be a German soldier. His wife and child were in Vienna, and by the end of 1944, he had not heard from them for months. He had heard rumours that Vienna was bombed, and he did not know if his family was still alive.

When the war ended in May, 1945, he ended up in a prisoner of war camp in the north of Germany, and upon the release of the prisoners, he and his companions walked back to Vienna, some 1300 kilometres, through devastated Germany. They lived off the land; they begged, stole, pilfered, and slept under bridges and in abandoned sheds, and after three months, he arrived back in Vienna to find that his house was gone, but his wife and child were still alive.

I got to know him really well during my bi-weekly haircut visits for four years, and he told me so many stories about the hardships that he endured, from being shunned by the locals to the unknown situation at home. Sometimes, he broke down and cried as he related his stories to me. He was such a fine fellow, and we became good friends, even though he had been the enemy.

In Matthew 5:43-44, Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy,' but I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." (NKJV)

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, so often we remember the "enemies" in our lives. We pray that we, too, will make efforts to love and care for those who may have done us wrong at some time in our lives. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

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About the author:

Joel Jongkind <austria67@bmts.com>
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Good reminder Joel.


    Wow. Incredible story, and convicting word of Jesus take it all home.
    Thanks for your words, time and faithfulness.


    Thank you Joel, always find your devotionals provide much food for thought – especially since I share them with a group of seniors in our weekly Bible and devotional readings.


    Thank you Joel for this meaningful devotional. May God continue to use your writing for His glory!
    Blessings.


    Dear Joel,
    Thank you for this moving story about the suffering of an enemy. Thankfully it seems that neither you nor the barber were holding grudges. Our Lord is good.


    Dear Joel,
    A wonderful devotional including a personal example of loving your enemies.
    I pray that the celebration will be truly joyful with many coming to Jesus Christ in thankfulness for peace.
    Praying that many will remember in sobriety and will give praise for the grace of Jesus Christ who died expressing his love even for those who hung him on the cross.


    Stunning! Thank you so much for opening up my understanding as well as my heart. I don’t know what to say except that I have learned over the years that I too have been ‘the enemy’ in many situations, due sometimes to ignorance but often to having my own agenda so strongly that I trod on other peoples’ agendas, and on the people too. May God forgive us all and help us to see ourselves and others through His eyes. May He bless you for relating this story.


    Bless you, Joel, for an inspiring Devotional.
    I can empathize with you…although, my family was on the Allies’ side during the great War, my wife is a devout Christian German and we have been happily married for over 50 years and blessed with several wonderful grandchildren. She also suffered greatly in Europe during and after the war. After the war she came to Canada where we met and have been happily married ever since.
    PRAISE THE LORD.
    Blessings.


    Greetings Joel: you brought back so many memories of W.’s stories beginning as a youth in Hitler’s Youth Camp and then as a 17-18 year old fighting the front line against Russia. He did not talk about those years for a long time but the last few years shared them with grandsons and a few friends. What each side went through was horrible and no choice for many of them. For so many years he was angry at his homeland but eventually came to realize that anger was a waste of time and to accept what happened happened. I am thankful that my one grandson who was going to Redeemer College recorded his stories. He is at peace now and in a place where there is no war and only rejoicing around God’s throne. Thank you for your devotions and hope all are well!


    Hello Mr. Jongkind,
    I always enjoy reading your devotionals. May I please make you aware that the whole of Holland was not liberated until May 5th of 1945, which makes it 69 years ago. I remember the day very well, although with some sadness as well as happiness. Our house burned down during the battle of Arnhhem. We were staying with our grandparents during the “hongerwinter” and as they had a farm we were never hungry. But the prospect of going back home and having no home or belongings was for my parents very difficult. I know that many German soldiers were happy that the war was over and I remember them ringing the church bells in Linschoten.


    Hello Joel
    I like the story that you posted. When I give thought to my condition before Christ saved me. My father was the Devil, and I did the will of my father. He is a murderer and a liar, and a divider of men under his control. Christ Jesus had suffered the wrath due me before I was born. My heavenly Father drew me unto His Son, that I might consider my end, and believe in His only begotten Son.
    When He, by His blessed Holy Spirit showed me where I was going to spend eternity, His Spirit, though the scripture also showed me how to escape the Death. Then, He asked me to choose. I chose Jesus the Redeemer of my soul, and became God’s child, in Christ Jesus, my living Saviour.
    Now by grace, I can call the great I AM, my Father. Troubles mingled with the joy that is not shaken, are parts of the Christians life at present. Joel, the time is short, hold fast to that which you have, and stay alert for the final call.
    (USA)


    Hi Joel;
    After I read your story, I thought about how each and every one of us has one. When my family immigrated to Canada in 1957 from Germany, I was also viewed as “the enemy” by some of the children — I was 10 years old. The names and labels that were impressed upon me, hurt deeply and there came a point where I didn’t share my birth place anymore. Of course I realize that children say what they hear and I have learned from that. I have become a more caring person towards other ethnic people, because of what I went through. So, I know a little about what you were talking about. There is so much healing in forgiveness, yet, racism seems to continue. Hopefully, God’s message of forgiveness will penetrate the hearts of many.


    Thank you for your History lesson and message today Joel. We have a neighbour from the Netherlands who raised a Canadian flag on this day and has a huge sign that says “Thank you Canada. Holland will Never forget.” Another friend was among those who liberated Holland and stayed for a length of time afterwards to help them re-adjust to their former lives…to find their “new normal”.


    Good Morning Joel,
    Your Devotional is wonderful, and hopefully will be read by our followers with an “open mind”. I, too, have many friends who were conscripted by the Nazi party and forced into war service against their will. We, too, have shared many stories of how both sides suffered, especially after the “tide” of war turned against Hitler.
    There is a very old saying among aboriginal people, to: “Never judge your neighbour until you have walked a day in their moccasins.” There is much truth in it.
    Blessings to you, and those you love. Keep writing.


    Hi Joel.
    I enjoy your contributions to the daily devotions.
    I can identify with many of the things you write about having been born in Holland, and going through the war.
    It took me many years to get over the hatred of the Germans until I worked side by side with “ONE OF THEM”.
    He turned out to be a devout Christian and we became good friend as well.
    It breaks my heart to hear about all the wars and suffering that we hear about every day.
    Oh, that people would love the Prince of Peace and each other more.
    Blessings.

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