Living in a perfect world marred by sin has increased our need for peace and stability in our lives. We are faced with a host of mounting fears, real or imagined. To a believer, facing or overcoming our fears is a lifelong process and it involves depending upon God to mold us into His useful vessel. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. " II Timothy 1:7. The triggers of fear may be any of the following: a medical diagnosis, a financial downfall, unfinished work, a broken relationship or a global pandemic. How we respond to our fears in our lives can make or break us.
On May 7, 2022, Immanuel Baptist Church hosted a Ladies' Tea Luncheon with the guest speaker, Maria Goodsell, a concentration camp survivor. The theme was "My fear is gone, my chains set free. "
Born and raised in Yugoslavia of German descent, she never imagined her once peaceful life would be turned into a nightmare. Her father fought with the German army against the Russians and when they were about to enter the city, Maria, her mother and her little sister fled to Czechoslovakia. A year later, upon their return to their homeland, they were captured by the Partisans, a group loyal to the dictator Tito. This was only because they were of German descent. The concentration camp in Kruschevel, Yugoslavia was a living hell. Through the eyes of a six-year old girl, the experience was both shattering and traumatic.
Their daily meal fare consisted of a little bit of cabbage mixed with water, sleeping on a bed of hay on a barren, dirty floor, people dying of starvation and typhus and no sanitary facilities at all. Seeing her mother sneak out at night from the camp in search of food was a profile of courage, persistence and an ardent love for her children to live. She managed to get bread, salt and garlic during the three-year ordeal. The most horrendous ordeal was witnessing the beheadings and shootings of innocent people. This scenario has been a trigger of her future nightmares. In Maria's words, " after spending one year at the camp nearly starved, my mother risked a daring escape by crossing a heavily guarded border into Hungary". This was the turning point in their lives.
The family migrated to America when she was 14. Seeing the Statue of Liberty at Ellis Island brought a ray of hope and a realization that they were indeed free. But no one can be really free from the bondage of sin until one has trusted the Lord Jesus as their Savior. He is the only one who can break the chains that bind us to sin This the whole family did and since then, God is using Maria to proclaim the message of salvation, the love of God and His faithfulness. The Scripture verse in Isaiah 41:10 has been her life verse. "Fear thou not, for I am with
thee; be not dismayed for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee, yea; I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. "
To Maria and to all those who have trusted Christ as their Savior, indeed our fears are gone, and our chains set free.
By Ludy Harbaugh