True Story – by Pastor Rob Reid
A young pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time so they could celebrate their first service on Christmas Eve. They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc., and on December 8 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On December 19 a terrible rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days.
On the December 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet directly behind the pulpit to fall off the front wall. The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do headed home. On the way, he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted table linen with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole on the church wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.
By this time it had started to snow. An elderly lady running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait inside the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later.
She sat in a pew and watched the pastor as he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman slowly walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. “Pastor,” she asked, “where did you get that tablecloth?”
The pastor told her. The woman then asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of this woman who had made this tablecloth years ago when she lived in Austria. The woman explained that before the WWII she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Germans came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. She was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again.
The pastor was so touched by her story that he wanted to give her the tablecloth, but she told him to keep it for the church. So then the pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.
What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One old man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in the pew and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war. How could there be two tablecloths that looked so much alike?
He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again. The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where he had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door. When the lady opened the door, as soon as their eyes met he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could have ever imagine. God does work in ways mysterious to us but not to Him.