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Minister's remarkable offer to Nazis reminds us of the sacrifice of Jesus

By Rev Gareth Burke

Published 29/10/2016

On a recent visit to Holland a colleague and I had a little free time on the Monday morning prior to getting our flights for Belfast. Our host suggested that we visit the village of Putten which was only a short drive away from where we were staying. I have to confess to never having heard of Putten but I think, having now visited it, I will never forget it.

On 30th September 1944 an attack on a German Wehrmacht car by a resistance group gave the German occupier cause to take reprisals against the village of Putten.

Six hundred and sixty one men from the village were rounded up and sent to a concentration camp at Amersfoort and from there were transported to the camp at Neuengamme. Everyone who remained was told to evacuate the village which was then set on fire by German troops. Over a hundred building were destroyed, while 540 men died in the concentration camp. Only 49 returned home after the liberation.

One of the most poignant stories to emerge from this horrible event concerns the local Reformed minister - a Rev Holland to name. Becoming aware of how the crisis was developing and sensing there was going to be huge loss of life he stepped forward and suggested to the German authorities that the men ought to be released and he, instead, could be taken and killed in their place.

By this remarkable offer one is powerfully reminded of the words of Jesus which we find in John 15:13 'Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends'. Rev Holland's offer was rejected by the occupying power.

However, as we look at Jesus we realise that he laid down his life for his people - his friends. He died in our place. He took the punishment we deserve. We deserve to experience the wrath of God because of our sin but he died 'the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.' (1 Peter3:18). Isn't it good to have faith in him? Isn't it good to know that our sin has been dealt with? These blessings can be yours when you turn from your sin and trust in him by faith.

Belfast Telegraph

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