Israelis and their friends around the world recently observed Holocaust Remembrance Day, the day to mourn and remember the unspeakable tragedy of the Holocaust. As an American, a Christian who loves Israel, and one who was not alive during the murders of six million Jews, I must ask what my role should be in remembering these evil acts.
For my talk radio program in Texas, I recently had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Susanna Kokkonen, the director of Christian Friends of Yad Vashem. For the education of our radio listeners, I asked Susanna, a fellow follower of Jesus Christ, “Why is the Shoah still so powerful emotionally for the Jews?” Her answers were simple yet profound:
The Holocaust was the largest mass murder ever committed anywhere in the world. The Jewish nation was left largely alone at that time. Their Gentile neighbors to a very large extent did not come to help them. The largest population group at that time was the silent bystanders who did nothing. For the Jewish people, even today, there is a feeling that they are alone because at those times in their history, and especially during the Holocaust, when they needed help, no one was there to stand with them… with a few exceptions.
With Susanna’s last statement in mind, “no one was there to stand with them,” I and our radio audience members were faced with a series of decisions: What now? What is God saying to me about the Holocaust? How should I become involved in memorializing this murderous event that seems so past but is actually so present?
I want the readers to understand that many Christians, including this pastor and radio host, have committed to stand with the Jews when they need help. My prayer is that the few heroic exceptions who stood valiantly with the Jews in the past will be multiplied in our generation, becoming a faithful majority instead of a silent minority.
None of us can undo the terrible wrongs of the past, but we can work diligently to ensure that they are not repeated. As the simple but poignant slogan says, we can speak and act and pray so that “never again” will humanity allow the mass murder of people guilty of nothing but being Jews. We Christians can commit to “never again” stand silently by as Israel and the Jews are threatened with another ghastly attempt at genocide.
As Iran, along with its proxies Hamas and Hezbollah, works toward nuclear weapons, we must speak and act and pray. As Islamic extremists around the globe express their hatred for Israel and the Jewish people, we must speak and act and pray. As Christians who are also targeted by radicals who hate our faith and our values, we must speak and act and pray.
We should speak about the Holocaust, and other genocides around the world, to educate today’s young people about the dangerous effects of hatred and racism. We should call out those who speak evil and whose words incite violence. We should speak so that the truth of God’s Word becomes a normal part of our vocabulary. We should speak (and carry out) words like Micah’s:
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
We should act by expressing love for God’s people and God’s land. We should act by offering comfort and hope to those who feel helpless. We should act by allowing the sorrows of the past to guide our decisions in the future. We should act by using our personal and professional influences to call others to act, showing them that the accomplishment of “never again” will take all of God’s people standing and working together.
We should pray that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will demonstrate His covenantal love of the Jews. We should pray that the Heavenly Father will raise up modern day heroes and protectors, those empowered by God’s Spirit to recognize evil and fight courageously against it. We should pray that grace and comfort be upon those aging survivors who have endured so much tragedy and so much pain.
As we consider the lessons of Holocaust Remembrance Day, I ask my fellow Christians, along with our Jewish brothers and sisters, to remember the horrible evils of the Holocaust and to speak and act and pray.