The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first
ministry, to reopen a church in urban Brooklyn, arrived in early October
excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was
very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything
done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.
They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc. and
on Dec. 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On Dec 19 a
terrible tempest - a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two
days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church.
His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large
area of plaster about 6 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the
sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high. The pastor
cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but
postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed
that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so
he stopped in.
One of the items was a beautiful, hand-made, ivory colored, 
crocheted table cloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a 
cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right 
size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and 
headed back to the church. By this time it had started to snow. 
An older woman running from the opposite
direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor
invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes
later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got
ladder, hangers etc. to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry.
The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered
up the entire problem area.
Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was
like a sheet. Pastor, she asked, Where did you get that tablecloth?
The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right
corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They
were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this
tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria. The woman could hardly believe
it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the tablecloth. The woman
explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people
in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband
was going to follow her the next week. She was captured, sent to prison
and never saw her husband or her home again.
The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor
keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, that
was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island
and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.
What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was
almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the
service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many
said that they would return.
One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood,
continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered
why he wasn't leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on
the front wall because it was identical to the one that his wife had
made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could
there be two tablecloths so much alike?
He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee
for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested
and put in a concentration camp. He never saw his wife or his home again
for all the 35 years in between.
The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little
ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the
pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb
the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the
door, and saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.
True Story-submitted by Pastor Rob Reid