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May 5, 2001
Column #1027

HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS BECOME CHRISTIAN

     The picture of Marion Parkhurst, 89, appeared in an ad published by TIME, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, Talk and People.

     ''Some say you can't be Jewish and believe in Jesus. I disagree,'' the ad copy begins. ''But before you dismiss my belief, you should know that in addition to being Jewish, I'm also a Holocaust Survivor...All I ask is that you hear my story and those of several other remarkable Jews who have suffered greatly and now truly believe in Jesus.''

     The ad, sponsored by Jews For Jesus, invites readers to order a free copy of a Survivor Series video by calling 1-800-MESSIAH. In a week, 10,000 did so.

     ABC, CBS, NBC and many cable channels were offered an ad, but refused to air it.  Why?  ''We have a policy of not accepting advertising that proselytizes,'' CBS told me. 

     So much for freedom of the press. 

     I saw the powerful video, which tells of seven Jews who somehow survived concentration camps, were restored and ultimately transformed by Jesus. But it only whet my curiosity to interview two of these remarkable people.

     Marion Parkhurst confessed, ''My Jewish people do not understand. They think I am a traitor.  Jews have been persecuted for 2000 years in the name of Jesus.''

     She and her first husband were ''put on cattle trains, treated horribly'' and sent to Bergen-Belsen in 1943. She was three months pregnant. Later, very weakened, Marion gave birth, but the child died. 

     The infamous Dr. Mengele, who conducted gruesome medical experiments on Jews, came to her barrack.  An aide pointed to Marion, saying ''This young woman had a baby who died.'' Mengele replied, ''Good.'' She said nothing but, ''I could have slapped him.''  

     ''The next day, Mengele came back to my bed, and said, `Here, take this. It might help you to survive.'  It was a bottle of vitamins.'' Daily she saw horses pulling cartloads of nude bodies. 

     One day, SS guards shouted, ''Everybody take their stuff and start walking. We will evacuate.''  Her husband was very sick and unable to walk.  But people who fell were shot. For two miles, Marion practically carried him with ''supernatural power.''  They got on a train that was freed by U.S. troops.

     In 1947, the couple came to California and had another child. They met Jewish Christians, who invited them to church. Marion refused. ''I didn't want to hear anything.  They said, `If you want to be heathen, OK, but can we take your daughter to church?''' The 4-year-old came home with little Bible verses, John 3:16, and stories to be read.

     ''I became curious, and asked, ''Where is this in the Bible?'' Her friends gave her one, and she started reading. ''I saw the Messiah all over the Old Testament. I do not know how people can not see it. When I read Isaiah 53, I was convicted. `But he was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him.  By his wounds we are healed,''' she recited from memory.  

     The Anti-Defamation League labeled the Jews for Jesus campaign ''deceptive and offensive'' in a press release. Abraham Foxman, ADL National Director, who is a Holocaust survivor, is quoted, ''By emphasizing the Holocaust, Jews for Jesus is using the darkest chapter in the history of Judaism - the persecution and annihilation of European Jews - to attempt to mislead survivors and their children about their history and faith.  It is impossible for a person who is Jewish to worship Jesus.''

     Marion disagrees: ''All the Apostles were Jews. The New Testament was mostly written by Jews. Only Luke was not. How can you be a Jew and not believe in Jesus?''

     Dr. Vera Schlamm, who was also in Bergen-Belsen, came to America at age 24. She entered college and became a pediatrician. A pastor who brought his child to her, ''gently witnessed to me.''

     ''I started reading the Bible, beginning in Genesis 1.  I wanted to know what God wanted for me since He had been so good to me. I read Isaiah 7:14: `Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.'  I was struck by the word virgin. I thought it was a Catholic belief. To find it in Isaiah was an eye-opener.

     ''The whole Chapter 53 had to be talking about Jesus.  I looked it up in the temple, and the meaning was the same.''

     When she told her ailing father she believed in Jesus, he said, ''If you want me to die, go right ahead.''  He lived nine more years, and eventually became a believer.

Copyright 2001 Michael J. McManus.

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