Esther was on the list to be sent to the gas chambers of a Nazi concentration camp, but thanks to a German nurse, Esther was given an incredible opportunity—one that saved her life.
Hi, this is Joni Eareckson Tada with a remarkable story today.
And welcome to "Joni and Friends" where it’s often stories that really drive home the point. And this is a story about my friend, Brenda, that she shared with me recently. She told me that when she was a freshman at Biola University, one of her dorm mates was a believing Jewish girl named Marcia. This girl’s family had a remarkable past for, you see, Marcia’s mother (her name was Esther) had been imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. Many people in the camp were being sent to the gas chambers, and Esther (that was Marcia’s mother) was on the list. However, when she became ill and was sent to the infirmary, she became friends with the German nurse who took care of her. Other women prisoners all around her in the infirmary were dying, but when she finally regained her health and was ready to be sent back to the camp barracks, the German nurse offered Esther an incredible opportunity. She told Esther that she could switch her identity with that of a woman who had just died in the infirmary … a woman whose name was not on the list for the gas chambers.
At any other time, it would have been a preposterous idea; but Marcia’s mother realized it could be her salvation. And so, when papers were prepared for her to be released from the infirmary, the sympathetic German nurse switched Esther’s identity with that of the dead woman, and Esther went back to the barracks with a new name, a new identity. This meant, the next morning when she stood in the camp yard for roll call and her old name was shouted out, the records showed she had died, and when the prisoner who had actually died—when her name was called—Esther said “Here, here I am!” And in this way, she amazingly was able to escape death in that Nazi concentration camp.
After the war and when her camp was liberated, Esther kept the dead woman's name out of respect. And you can understand why: it was the other woman who had saved her life. Her death meant a new identity for Marcia’s entire family. Many decades later, Esther (Marcia’s mother) passed away, and Marcia became a Christian—actually, a Messianic Jew, she was—and she signed up to go to Biola University. And, of course, that’s where she met her dorm mate, Brenda who relayed this story to me. Marcia truly appreciated her freedom in Christ. Because of what happened to her mother, Marcia knew that—as a believer in Christ—her identity had been switched: she was now a new person, a different person. And for that reason, she would forever be free from the curse of death because when Jesus died and gave her His life.
To me, the story of Esther and Marcia is a beautiful metaphor for Colossians chapter 3, verse 3 where it says, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Oh, friend, join me today in thanking God for the one who saved your life. Out of respect for His death, celebrate your new identity in Jesus. And never forget that you have been freed; you’ve been released from the curse that brings death. And if you’d like to share this Good News with someone today, please visit my radio page at joniandfriends.org and ask for your copy of Where is God When Things go Wrong? because sometimes in the midst of wrong circumstances, (even in a Nazi death camp) everything can go right—amazingly right. And the story of Esther and Marcia proves it.
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