Series Code: IIW
Program Code: IIW001484A
01:30 ♪[Theme music]♪
01:49 ♪[Music]♪ JB: This is It Is Written.
01:59 I'm John Bradshaw. Thanks for joining me.
02:02 In 1994, the movie "Schindler's List"
02:06 won seven Academy Awards, including the Oscar for
02:10 Best Picture. It told the story of a Czech
02:14 German businessman named Oskar Schindler,
02:17 who employed Jews in his factories so he could shield
02:21 them from the horrors of the Holocaust.
02:24 It's said that, in total, Oskar Schindler
02:27 saved the lives of 1200 Jews who would almost have certainly
02:32 perished without his direct intervention.
02:36 Millions died in the Holocaust, victims of the madness of
02:40 Adolph Hitler's final solution. Europe was paralyzed by Hitler's
02:45 megalomania, but there were some who dared to stand against
02:49 Hitler and risk everything to give others the gift of freedom.
02:54 ♪ [Dark Brooding Underscore] ♪ Here in Switzerland,
02:57 during World War II, one unlikely hero
03:00 was personally responsible for saving more than
03:03 800 Jews from the Nazis as well as hundreds of others,
03:07 including Allied servicemen. And it was faith in God that
03:11 drove this unlikely hero to risk his life; to suffer torture
03:16 and unspeakable abuse; to be imprisoned;
03:19 to live in constant danger. Faith in God led this man to
03:24 give all he had so that others might be saved and not perish.
03:29 ♪ [Pensive Melody] ♪ Today, in Cologne, France,
03:34 a village of 3,000 people just outside Geneva, Switzerland,
03:38 there's a monument recognizing the heroism of this man
03:42 of faith. A simple monument paying tribute
03:47 to an extraordinary life.
03:50 John Weidner was Dutch. He was raised largely in France
03:54 because his father taught at this Christian college.
03:58 And as Hitler's noose began to tighten around the collective
04:02 Jewish neck, he became aware of the desperate situation
04:06 facing many Dutch Jews.
04:10 His upbringing gave him a strong respect for liberty--
04:14 religious and personal. Seeing Jews being herded into
04:18 detention camps affected him profoundly.
04:21 The simple thing would have been to look the other way as Nazi
04:24 aggression increased in the late 1930s.
04:28 That's what the majority did. After all, what could one person
04:33 possibly do in the face of the overwhelming force and power
04:37 of the Nazi regime? Especially when resistance often
04:41 meant persecution, imprisonment, torture, or death.
04:47 But doing nothing isn't the simple thing, when your heart
04:51 glows with love for God and compassion for others.
04:56 John Weidner couldn't just do nothing, even when choosing to
05:00 do something to help was tantamount to signing his own
05:04 death warrant.
05:06 This is not just another story about another brave man who
05:10 resisted Hitler's machine of war.
05:12 Now, even if it was, it would still be one of the most
05:15 remarkable stories that you'll ever hear.
05:18 But this is a story that has implications for us today,
05:22 because it's an account of someone who demonstrated true
05:25 self-sacrificing love, even as Jesus did
05:29 when He was on the Earth. And this is a story that shows
05:32 us that faith in God leads a believer to actions,
05:37 and not just words. ♪ [Dark Brooding Underscore] ♪
05:39 Time's a funny thing, isn't it? World War II in Europe was one
05:43 of the most horrific times in all of history.
05:47 Yet today, you'd never know-- at least, not by appearances.
05:52 Geneva, Switzerland, is a beautiful, affluent city.
05:56 Across the border in France, life is a quiet,
06:00 go-about-your-business sort of affair.
06:03 But if we could go back in time not many decades, things would
06:07 be completely different. Not peace, but fear;
06:12 and jeopardy in the place of safety.
06:16 These very streets, these fields and these hills were the scenes
06:20 of incredible drama. In fact, it was these hills
06:24 which provided an escape route for many people fleeing Nazi
06:28 persecution. In 1939, there were 300,000 Jews
06:35 living in France. By 1940, thousands more Jews
06:39 were fleeing to France from Belgium and Holland.
06:43 France was a haven, but in June of 1940,
06:47 when the French army gave way, France was divided
06:51 into two sections. Northern France was occupied by
06:55 Germany, while the south of France, a so-called free zone,
07:00 was administered by a French government that cooperated
07:04 with the Nazis. Many Jews in southern France
07:08 were housed in camps, which before long made them easy
07:12 targets for the Nazis. As long as they were in camps
07:16 in France, the Gestapo could take
07:19 Jews from the camps for any reason at all,
07:23 and those people would usually never be heard from again.
07:28 ♪ [Gentle Melody] ♪ By 1941, Jewish refugees were
07:33 pouring out of Belgium and Holland and into France,
07:37 but it was becoming increasingly difficult for them
07:40 to get out of France. If they could get to Switzerland
07:43 or Spain or England, then they would be safe.
07:47 Now, initially John Weidner began working with
07:49 Dutch diplomats. But as diplomatic solutions to
07:53 this crisis became increasingly impossible to achieve, it became
07:57 obvious that an underground resistance movement was needed.
08:03 A key factor in helping so many escape was this mountain range,
08:07 the Saleve. Beyond is Mont Blanc, the
08:11 highest mountain in Europe. Because Weidner went to school
08:14 at the bottom of this mountain range, he knew it intimately.
08:18 His knowledge of the trails and the cliffs and the hiding places
08:21 of this rugged landscape made it an excellent escape route.
08:26 Ahead of time, God had prepared John Weidner so that at the
08:30 right time God could use him in incredible ways.
08:35 I'll tell you more in just a moment.
08:39 ♪ [Gentle Theme] ♪ >: Every Word is a one-minute
08:41 Bible-based daily devotional presented by
08:43 Pastor John Bradshaw and designed especially
08:46 for busy people like you. Look for Every Word on selected
08:49 networks, or watch it online every day on our website,
08:55 ♪ [Rythmic Melody] ♪
09:02 JB: During the Christmas season there's a lot of rushing in a
09:05 lot of lives, and a lot of plans being made and a lot of gifts
09:08 being given and a lot of food being consumed.
09:10 And very often, something gets lost.
09:14 Stillness. Jesus and His parents were in a
09:18 quiet place when Jesus was born. The shepherds were assembled on
09:22 the silent hillsides; the wise men traveled,
09:25 but not along busy freeways, and they didn't get
09:27 stuck in traffic even once. But get this: when Herod
09:31 the king heard these things, he was troubled,
09:33 and all Jerusalem with him. That's Matthew 2:3.
09:36 That first Christmas, the only one who was uptight was Herod,
09:39 and those he caused to be agitated.
09:41 If it's really about peace and goodwill and family and Jesus,
09:45 try to enjoy the peace of Jesus this Christmas.
09:47 Merry Christmas.
09:49 I'm John Bradshaw for It Is Written.
09:51 Let's live today by every word.
09:56 ♪[Music]♪ Today I'd like to ask you to
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10:31 or write to P.O. Box 6 Chattanooga, TN 37401.
10:38 ♪ [Pastoral Melody] ♪ JB: This is It Is Written.
10:42 I'm John Bradshaw. I'm glad you've joined me today,
10:45 and I want to wish you today a very merry Christmas.
10:49 The view from up here is breathtaking.
10:53 I'm not so sure how much notice escapees took of their view when
10:56 they were fleeing for their lives from the Nazis.
10:59 But standing here today, it's not easy to drink in
11:03 as much of the scenery as you'd like to.
11:06 Up here, we're in France. This was a dangerous place to be
11:09 if you were a Jew during World War II, because you were in
11:12 Nazi territory. Switzerland,
11:15 freedom for Jewish refugees, is just down there,
11:19 only a mile or so away. There's Lake Geneva,
11:23 with the beautiful, historic city of Geneva right there.
11:27 In John Weidner's day, Geneva was the home of
11:29 the League of Nations. Replaced in 1946
11:33 by the United Nations. Today, Geneva is the home of the
11:37 World Health Organization, a number of U.N. agencies,
11:42 the International Red Cross, the World Trade Organization,
11:47 as well as banks and watchmakers and a lot of very
11:51 wealthy people. ♪ [Music swells] ♪
11:57 John Weidner spent years living here when his father taught at
12:00 the college at the foot of the Saleve.
12:03 So he knew this area like the back of his hand.
12:07 He personally accompanied individuals or groups of people,
12:10 young and old, fleeing for their lives across these mountains.
12:15 He was often chased by Nazi soldiers.
12:19 Many times he was shot at. Frequently he'd have to hide
12:23 among the rocks up here to save his life.
12:26 Weidner's mission wasn't for the faint of heart.
12:30 It was incredibly dangerous, and it wasn't only his own life
12:35 that was in danger. Weidner and others founded an
12:40 organization called Dutch Paris, named because a lot of their
12:45 work involved getting Jews out of the Netherlands,
12:48 through Paris and on to safety.
12:51 There were about 300 people involved.
12:54 Some hid Jews in their homes or in their businesses
12:57 or on their farms. Other people forged documents.
13:01 Some provided food, some money, some influence.
13:05 Church officials were involved. Government officials.
13:09 People who knew which parts of the border were electrified,
13:12 and which were not. People living down near the
13:15 border helped immensely. But out on the front lines
13:20 was John Weidner. He founded, coordinated and
13:24 worked in an organization that saved hundreds
13:28 and hundreds of lives. ♪ [Transitional Bright Melody] ♪
13:37 Weidner ran a textile business in Lyon in France, which was the
13:42 home of the Resistance movement. He had run a business in Paris,
13:46 but he lost it to the Nazis. So he started another business.
13:50 The reason he felt like he needed to run a business was
13:53 because having a business would provide a legitimate opportunity
13:56 for him to travel in a time when people couldn't move about
13:59 freely. But operating his business
14:02 in Lyon, the home of the Resistance,
14:05 became too dangerous for him, so he abandoned the business
14:08 and walked away from it. So he came to Annecy,
14:12 also in France, about 25 miles away from Geneva.
14:16 And he opened another textile business here,
14:19 just across the street from beautiful Lake Annecy.
14:22 This would provide him with a couple of things he desperately
14:25 needed. Like his other businesses,
14:28 it would provide Weidner with money, which he could use
14:31 to save lives. This time, having a business
14:35 this close to the border would give him a good reason to be
14:38 close to the border. And that's where he needed
14:43 to be, if he was going to save people's lives.
14:46 ♪ [Suspensful Underscore] ♪
14:50 It was a different world then. During the war, the border
14:54 between France and Switzerland was fortified and guarded
14:57 and defended. There was barbed wire and dogs
15:01 and fences and soldiers with guns.
15:04 A person had to have travel papers everywhere they went.
15:08 If you didn't have them, you could be arrested
15:10 and imprisoned. There was no such thing
15:13 as real freedom. You'd never know, would you,
15:18 what went on here, on these peaceful, idyllic streets
15:21 years ago. If only these streets
15:25 could speak. ♪ [Forboding Underscore] ♪
15:28 John often took refugees to stay at his store here, in Annecy.
15:32 If there were too many of them for him to safely keep,
15:35 some would stay a couple of blocks away
15:37 in the back room of a gift shop run by a Swiss woman
15:41 committed to helping the Resistance.
15:44 She was eventually executed by the Nazis.
15:49 Fear and mistrust were everywhere.
15:52 It was impossible to know who was a spy or an informant.
15:56 In order to save lives, John had to contend
15:58 with police officials and border guards and soldiers.
16:03 In fact, once he got into Geneva by dropping from a bridge into
16:07 the coal car of a train. Things were going great until
16:12 soldiers stopped the train, looking for fugitives.
16:16 What would John do? Well, the driver of the train
16:18 was sympathetic to the Resistance, so he hid John
16:21 Weidner in a closet inside the locomotive.
16:25 Soldiers searched the locomotive and they came to within inches
16:31 of where John was. That's how dangerous
16:33 it could be. As a matter of fact,
16:36 it even got worse. ♪ [Suspenseful Underscore] ♪
16:44 A young lady who was part of the Dutch Paris group one day
16:47 dropped a notebook. She had made the terrible
16:51 mistake of writing down names of people who were involved in
16:55 Dutch Paris in that notebook. That was a serious no-no.
17:00 The notebook was noticed; it was grabbed by the Gestapo,
17:04 who wanted to know what the names meant.
17:08 They arrested the young lady and demanded that she tell them
17:12 who these people were, where they lived,
17:14 and what they did. Of course, she flatly refused.
17:18 They took her away to a jail cell,
17:20 where they threatened to torture her and they threatened to
17:23 bother her family. At the same time,
17:26 they promised her that if she cooperated,
17:29 her father, who was in prison,
17:31 would be released from prison. She still would not cooperate.
17:37 So they took her to a room where they forced her to watch
17:40 prisoners being tortured. It was all just too much
17:44 for the young lady. She cracked.
17:47 She wanted to safeguard herself and her family,
17:50 so she named names, she gave addresses,
17:54 she divulged details. Well, her father was released
17:59 from prison, but he was rearrested the next day
18:03 and put back into prison. One hundred fifty members of
18:07 Dutch Paris were arrested. Forty of them were executed.
18:17 So what moves a person to do what John Weidner did?
18:21 Before he died in 1994 he said, "I didn't have a choice."
18:26 Clearly he wasn't motivated by personal gain.
18:29 Even though there was a lot of money to be made in getting
18:32 people across the border to safety, John Weidner
18:35 did everything he did as a labor of love.
18:39 He was never paid; he never took money
18:41 from anybody he saved. He did it all because God's
18:44 love had gripped his heart. And when God's love grips a
18:48 person's heart, it leads that person to say, what can I do to
18:53 demonstrate the love of God? What can I do
18:56 to make a difference? That's what moved Jesus,
19:01 when He came into this world to make a difference
19:05 for you and me. That was John Weidner's
19:07 experience. I'll have more in just a moment.
19:12 ♪ [gentle piano transition] ♪
19:16 JB: There's a special gift I'd like to offer you today.
19:19 It's this study called "The Second Coming of Jesus,"
19:23 and you can get it right now by calling
19:24 1 (800) 253-3000 or writing to us at
19:29 It Is Written, P.O. Box 6, Chattanooga, TN 37401.
19:35 When you call or write, we'll send you this study to your
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20:33 It Is Written, P.O. Box 6, Chattanooga, TN 37401.
20:42 ♪ [Foreboding Underscore] ♪ JB: Probably the best known
20:52 verse in the entire Bible is John 3:16.
20:56 It says, "For God so loved the world that he gave
21:00 his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him
21:04 should not perish but have everlasting life."
21:07 The next verse, John 3:17,
21:11 is not quite so well known but it's equally as powerful.
21:14 It says, "For God did not send his Son into the world to
21:18 condemn the world, but that the world through him
21:21 might be saved." See, everything God did
21:25 in the plan of salvation, everything God does
21:27 in the plan of salvation, all God did in sending Jesus
21:31 into this world was done in order to save humanity.
21:36 To lift up and save a people who didn't deserve to be saved.
21:41 John Weidner was someone who gave.
21:44 No, he didn't lose his life doing what he did,
21:48 but he came awfully close. There were times he was shot at
21:51 while swimming across a river to safety.
21:54 One time, in Lyon, he and an accomplice were actually
21:57 arrested and sentenced to be executed,
22:00 but just minutes before the execution was scheduled
22:03 to be carried out, he managed somehow
22:05 to escape out a prison window. He and his accomplice dropped
22:09 three floors onto the cobblestone streets below and
22:13 escaped to safety. The Los Angeles Times reported
22:17 after Weidner's death in 1994 that Weidner had been
22:21 interrogated in Lyon by the notorious war criminal
22:25 Klaus Barbie. The Butcher of Lyon.
22:28 It has been estimated that somewhere between 11,000 and
22:30 25,000 people were executed, tortured or sent to
22:36 concentration camps directly by Barbie himself.
22:41 But somehow Weidner managed to escape Barbie's interrogations.
22:45 He escaped only to come back into the fray and put his life
22:49 on the line again and again and again.
22:53 The Gestapo really wanted John Weidner-- so much so that they
22:58 offered a reward of 5 million francs for his capture.
23:02 Now, in 1945 that was about $50,000.00.
23:06 Just think of what it would be worth today.
23:09 They wanted Weidner. They didn't get him,
23:12 but they came close. And they knew how to play dirty.
23:18 The Anti-defamation League honored Weidner posthumously
23:21 in 2014. The press release of that event
23:25 had this to say: "Weidner was high on the Gestapo's
23:30 most-wanted list. In an attempt to get Weidner
23:33 to turn himself in, the Gestapo arrested his sister,
23:37 Gabrielle, in February of 1944, while she was attending
23:43 church in Paris. In one of the more agonizing
23:47 decisions of his life, Weidner was forced
23:50 to choose between continuing his rescue work or surrendering
23:55 himself in exchange for Gabrielle's freedom.
23:59 He chose to continue his work. Gabrielle Weidner died in the
24:05 Ravensbruck concentration camp in February of 1945.
24:11 Can you imagine? Some people have given a lot,
24:14 haven't they? Interesting.
24:16 After World War II, Weidner went to the Netherlands and he
24:19 visited that young lady. The one whose carelessness cost
24:23 the lives of all those Dutch Paris members.
24:26 He visited her in her home, and he forgave her.
24:31 Now, if you think Weidner went through a lot-- and he did--
24:34 don't make the mistake of forgetting about those who
24:37 paid the highest price. One censor says that when World
24:40 War II began there 139,717 Jews living in the Netherlands, more
24:47 than half of them in Amsterdam. By the time World War II was
24:52 over, only 35,000 of them were still alive.
24:55 Millions perished in the Holocaust.
24:59 Weidner lived during World War II
25:01 for one purpose, and that was to save others.
25:04 People he didn't know. People who weren't the same
25:07 religion as he was. People who were the targets
25:10 of a brutal regime. Now, he had the opportunity
25:13 to flee. To escape to England.
25:15 And England would have meant safety.
25:19 But Weidner didn't go. Instead, he chose to remain on
25:22 the continent, because going to England would have meant
25:26 that many people who would have been saved,
25:29 would not have been saved. Weidner couldn't face
25:32 that thought. He just had to do
25:36 what he had to do. He was honored by France,
25:41 Great Britain, Belgium, The Netherlands, and
25:44 the American Jewish Congress. The nation of Israel recognized
25:49 Weidner as a righteous Gentile. A tree with his name attached to
25:54 it was planted on the Hill of Remembrance, along the Avenue of
25:58 the Righteous, in Yad Vashem-- Israel's official memorial to
26:03 the victim's of the Holocaust.
26:09 He moved to the United States in the 1950s.
26:13 He married, he settled in California, and he ran a
26:16 successful business. He said this in a speech
26:20 honoring Holocaust victims: "During my father's lifetime,
26:26 he taught me, my family, his parishioners,
26:29 and the community that the most important quality
26:33 in a human being was to love, respect, and treat our fellow
26:37 man as we wished to be loved, respected, and treated.
26:43 I was a witness to the barbaric treatment of the Jews
26:46 by the Nazis. I personally observed the
26:49 killing of a jewish infant who was torn out of the arms
26:52 of his mother," he said.
26:55 "I was determined to heed the teachings and example of my
26:58 father, and I did everything that I could to save as many
27:04 lives as possible."
27:09 He saved a future Nobel Prize winner; he saved future
27:12 government officials; he met General Eisenhower;
27:16 he met the queen of The Netherlands.
27:18 But through it all, John Weidner remained simply a man who was
27:23 dedicated to serving and saving. The truth is,
27:28 he lived for others. And isn't that what Christmas
27:31 is about? The Christmas story tells us
27:34 about God sending Jesus into the world to save others.
27:37 At Christmastime, typically we ask "What are you going to
27:40 get for Christmas?" when perhaps the question we
27:43 should be asking is, "What are you going to give?"
27:47 This Christmas, my family and I are thankful for freedom.
27:51 We're thankful for John Weidner, and the forgotten heroes
27:54 like him. Freedom and love for others
27:56 ran through their veins. We're thankful that Jesus came
28:01 to this earth as a baby in a manager,
28:03 and that He's coming back soon, as a conquering King.
28:07 What a day that will be! We say with John, who wrote the
28:11 book of Revelation, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
28:20 ♪ [Silent Night on Piano] ♪ Let's take a moment to
28:22 pray together. Our Father in heaven, this
28:24 Christmas we've been reminded about someone who lived to give.
28:30 We are grateful for people like John Weidner.
28:33 We're most grateful for Jesus, who lived entirely to give.
28:39 And to give the greatest of all gifts, everlasting life.
28:43 Don't let us be so distracted at Christmastime that we fail to
28:46 remember the true meaning of why Jesus came to this earth.
28:52 We thank You today. We love You
28:54 and want to love You more. And we pray in Jesus' name.
29:02 [Music continues]
29:16 Thanks for joining me today. I look forward to seeing you
29:18 again next time. Until then, Merry Christmas.
29:22 And remember, it is written. Man shall not live by
29:26 bread alone, but by every word
29:29 that proceeds from the mouth of God.
29:37 ♪ [Silent Night continues] ♪