Saved by grace from a certain death

DO you believe in miracles? Well miracles do happen.

Historical events dictate the Rev Willem JJ Glashouwer has no right to be alive. However someone was watching over him and that someone or something far greater than mankind. He was protected from death and saved by grace from even before he was born.

When the Nazis were on the rampage of wiping out Jews at the height of the second World War (1939-1945), a brave handful were engaged in a small movement to protect the Jews and ensure their safety.

In the Netherlands, his father the Rev Willem Glashouwer Sr was one of those who had been marked for death by the Nazis. Somehow, he survived and lived until his 70th birthday before his passing in 1983.

In an interview with this newspaper, Mr Glashouwer, who was born in 1944, a year before the war ended, said it was a miracle they survived and he was a living testimony that miracles do happen.

While he was too young to remember, his late mother shared with him and two siblings the work of his late father and why they have remained blessed until today.

Mr Glashouwer said his father was part of a resistance movement hiding Jews and protecting them. He said Jews would stay with them for a while before they moved on in their battle for survival.

“At the risk of their own lives and the risk of their own children, my parents were hiding these Jews.

“My father was an ordained minister of the National Church of Netherlands but he fully understood that the Jews were the chosen people of God.

“I don’t remember much about him but the elders have recollection of a girl who was in the house but then these people (Jews) had to move on after staying for between one to four months.

“But there were always traitors so you could say, like I have this family member or niece spending some time with us, but when they stayed on for too long, neighbours could become suspicious and report to authorities that something was not right.

“When you’re caught having Jews in your home, hiding them it could cost you your life. You could be taken to prison and even to concentration camps, just like Corrie ten Boom.

“Half her family were murdered, she and her sister Betsy went to concentration camps, her sister Betsy died, she hardly survived because she was hiding Jews,” said Mr Glashouwer.

According to Wikipedia “Cornelia Arnolda Johanna “Corrie” ten Boom (April 15 1892 – April 15 1983) was a Dutch watchmaker and Christian who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II by hiding them in her closet. She was imprisoned for her actions. Her most famous book, The Hiding Place, is a biography that recounts the story of her family’s efforts.

“Aunt Corrie, she was good friends with my parents, so she came to the family several times after the war. I still remember my mother saying, ‘now you children behave we have Aunt Corrie coming’.”

The Dutch television presenter and broadcaster said his late father was imprisoned twice but on both occasions walked out a free man.

“He was almost blind, so my mother had to read him all kinds of stuff.

“He was imprisoned twice because they suspected him to be involved in an underground resistance group and in hiding Jews.

“So two times, suddenly the house was raided by the Germans and Dutch police and they took him and miracles do happen.

“This Jewish girl that I spoke about, had written to my parents a letter to thank them for the time she was there.

“In the letter … saying one day that we (Jews) will be free and the letter was just there on his desk, open. They searched the whole house, opened books of his theological library to find papers or whatever and they simply overlooked the letter that was plain in sight on his desk as if they were blinded somehow.

“So after a few weeks they let him go.

“The second time was also a miracle. He was picked up with 36 people from the village because sometimes the German would manage to shoot down a British plane.

“The British pilot with his parachute, landed on the ground and the people of the village would try to get to the pilot before the Germans and try to bring them through Portugal and then to England.

“On one occasion it led to a fight so a German officer was killed. So as reprisals, the Germans took 36 from the village and put them in prison, and had executed them one by one — each day one after another as a warning to the village to never again do such a thing.

“My father was in prison, finally he and another were the only two left when the door opened and he thought now it was his turn and the guy came in and said ‘Geh raus, du bist frei (Get out you are free).

“He never understood why.

“After the war they found the paper, also with his name of the 36 that were supposed to be executed. If that had happened I would not have been here as I was not born yet. So the Lord kept his hand over him.”

He was 19 years old when he decided to become a dedicated Christian and serve the Lord.

After completing his high school education he studied theology at the Universities of Groningen and Utrecht where he received his theological degrees. He was then ordained as a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church in The Netherlands.

For 20 years, he served as a producer, host and finally executive director of the television department of the Evangelische Omroep (Evangelical Broadcasting Company). He was one of the pioneers, who established this broadcasting organisation in The Netherlands,

Mr Glashouwer also pioneered the setting up of a Dutch evangelical higher education and school for journalism.

More than 30 years ago Mr Glashouwer was almost left for dead. He was 40 years old and started losing his sight and at the same time was having hearing problems. It was not until a visit to hospital that they discovered he had a huge tumour which had to be operated upon.

Half-way through the 11-hour operation, the surgeon wanted to quit.

“I had no idea it was with me; then my vision got blurry, my hearing was affected and so ultimately in hospital they found out, they rushed me from the X-ray machine to the operation table as soon as possible.

“Half way through, the surgeon wanted to stop because they discovered the tumour had grown on the basis of my skull, and he said there was no use of going on, but the rest of the team said ‘we started it, let’s finish the job’.

“So they cut everything. They did bone transplantation; they got a bone from my hip and put it in the hole they had made with tissue from my thigh.

“So it’s a miracle that I am sitting here.”

Little did Mr Glashouwer know that half-way across the world, a group of Orthodox Jews’ had been praying for him. He did not know them but they knew him because he was famous on television.

Mr Glashouwer said this was relayed to him after the surgery.

“I thought only the Christians were praying about me, but I later found out that orthodox Jews was also praying for me at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. They went all the way from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and prayed until they had the inner conviction that this Christian man would live.

“And they went back to Tel Aviv and never even told me about it. Incredible, I have never heard of orthodox Jews praying for Christians, I have only heard of Christians praying for Jews.”

The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem is a place of prayer and pilgrimage sacred to the Jewish people. It is the only remains of the second temple of Jerusalem. It became known as the Wailing Wall because of the centuries of endless tears, shed by Jews in the efforts to rebuild Jerusalem.

Mr Glashouwer was still recovering in hospital when an old Jewish man approached him and asked that he become the chairman for Christians of Israel. The Christian for Israel International mission is to bring biblical understanding in the church concerning God’s purposes for Israel and to promote comfort of Israel through prayer and action.

“I didn’t know the man at all.

“So in that time of recovery, this man came and he told me, that I will be the chairman and they will do the work.

“I did not know much about Israel, but of course my parents had been hiding Jews and Holland had over centuries had very close relationship with the Jewish people, that’s about it.

“Then he said ‘he who stands with the Jews today when everyone hates them, who will fight for them and show them the love of Jesus, but don’t you worry I will show them’.

It was these words and after a week of fasting and prayer with his wife, Mr Glashouwer was convinced to take up his new post.

Forty years later, he has published books and continued with his work.

Mr Glashouwer was in Fiji last month as president of Christians for Israel conducting seminars — “Why Israel”.

His book Why Israel? has been published in over 30 languages worldwide. His other books include Why Jerusalem?, Why End Times and Israel: Covenants and Kingdom.

On February 20, 2010 Mr Glashouwer was appointed a Knight in the Order of Oranje Nassau by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

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