Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Church History

I was fortunate to grow up in an area inhabited by numerous ethnic peoples. I remember the Zwar family that came into our church in my boyhood, emigrating from Germany during the pre-WWII years (I still see a family member occasionally). I remember our “turmoil” because these solid Christian people kept brewed beer in their basement--strange to our “teetotaller” church.

Since that time, I have enjoyed many such friendships. One was longtime Church of God minister Ewald Wolfram--a preacher’s preacher (but an emigrant from East Prussia)! I think today of pastor Mike Stadlemayer, a solid second generation American kid who grew up in West Michigan after I left. Now a longtime pastor, Mike’s dad and mom were Rudy and Elsa whom I remember for our years together in Warner Memorial Church Camp. They emigrated from what is now part of Poland--early 50s. I still look forward every year at church camp to seeing the Robert Malzon’s of Benton Harbor, who have a great story, and a warm testimony. In California I met Eva Fisher whose war pilgrimmage still haunted her, in spite of her safe American surroundings.

So, when I found a prepublication copy of this soon to be published history, I was delighted--People of Faith in Turbulent Times, a history of the Church of God in Eastern Europe. This is a pilgrimmage of faith that many of my friends, and some of your friends, were part of. Thus, it is a book of great interest, written by the lovable Dr. walter Froese, retired professor of Church History at the Anderson School of Theology.

A Canadian, the story comes partially out of the rootage of his beloved wife, now deceased. As Dr. Froese tells it, “so very much of what happened in World War II actually seemed to mock much of the faith treasured so deeply by Church of God believers. The overall political developments, especially in the late 1930s and early 1940s, with the emphasis on racial differences, the desire for domination of one country over another, and the rampant hate propaganda towards other human beings required for fighting and killing in a war–all this posed challenges to many believers in their faith in God as Lord of everything and in their conviction that God's will for all of God's children is love towards everyone.

Despite such difficulties, however, the Church of God lived on, as Dr. Froese reveals. It is that story that he tells in his forthcoming volume from Reformation Publishers, People of Faith for Turbulent Times, a history of the Church of God in Eastern Europe. I predict this will be a popular volume across the Church of God, read by many, and treasured by those who find their values shared in the sojourn of these many different people over such a wide area of Europe. Thank you, Dr. Walter Froese!

Faith and values are still treasures today.
this is Warners World,

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