One life


I recently saw a movie by that title, “One Life”, starring Anthony Hopkins. It is the story of Nicky Winton, a London financial executive, who created and orchestrated by train the rescue of almost 700 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia just prior to Nazi occupation. The story is told in retrospect when Nicky is 79 years old which by that perspective provides a myriad of insights.


Although Nicky miraculously succeeded in getting 8 trains of children to safety, he is haunted by the thoughts of the children he couldn’t save. Unfortunately, the last train of almost 250 children was stopped by the Nazis on the day of occupation. The amount of effort, finances, and willingness of hundreds of British families to “foster” these children is unimaginable.


Nicky’s life had been consumed by sorrow as evidenced by a room filled with boxes of records, papers askew, clutter, information he could just not throw away related to the incident. The movie re-enacts the story underlying his trauma. Without wanting to be a spoiler of the ending, suffice it to say that Nicky learns through rather unpredictable ways the exponential effect of his one life on countless others. During his years of sorrow he didn’t know how his work had blessed generations.


In 1938 Nicky is just a man going about his business, yet unable to ignore what was happening in the world. Information was limited, so he went to Prague to see the situation firsthand. With a heart to serve and unable to overlook what he saw he felt that he must do something. The governmental entities were only focusing on saving high profile, important people, not children, who were starving and freezing.


With just an idea, not enough money, and no initial collaborators, he set out to save these Jewish children. By his encouragement he did succeed in getting the British Committee for Refugees and others involved. By his encouragement his mother did convince governmental authorities to assist. Still the task was perilous and seemingly impossible given the numbers and logistics involved.


What a blessing that in his lifetime he actually came to know his successes far outweighed his perceived failure. At the end of the movie God reveals to Nicky the magnitude of his efforts in ways so surprising, so mysterious, so God.


One man, Nicholas Winton, took on the monolithic Nazi regime. Rather than feeling hopeless, against all odds, his success story gives all of us hope and evidence of the truth that every life matters, ours and each of those around us. His story inspires us that individuals can accomplish change against all odds.


Personal appeals to influence governmental efforts is often not possible or seemingly ineffective.  We feel nothing can be done. People will say we’re crazy. Most will not want to help. We feel defeated and helpless.


Yet with perseverance and a heart to serve, each of us can make a difference, for it is not our efforts that are at work, but rather, the strength, steadfastness, and love we receive from our Abba through Yeshua that is at work. Adding to that the time and resources of those around us and through sympathetic organizations so much can be accomplished. Others also become empowered by such Divine love and inspiration. We may never know the fruits of our labors, yet they will come to fruition.


The climate was terror and hopelessness as the Nazis narrowed in on Czechoslovakia and began their Jewish refugee encampments. It was just one man who made a difference for ultimately thousands. Although our times are increasingly troubled, at this point none may be as overwhelming as was that, and yet, amazing results can occur, as evidenced by one man, one life, Nicky Winton, who was able to engage the help of others through his model of selfless service.


God’s Love empowered Nicky. His Love empowers us. A spirit of service inspires us and those around us. It starts within our own families and communities which are the training ground for growing this spirit within us (as highlighted in the movie when we learn of his mother’s influence during his childhood and later collaboration). As we help within our families and communities the spirit of service is cultivated. As we mature we become able to take this loving heart of service to help those around us.


Whether training our children to help around the house, having our children assist others, helping an elderly neighbor, volunteering at a local food pantry, providing coats to the homeless, supporting an Israeli relief organization, joining a mission, we are His Hands on earth. We are given one life, one called to love and to serve. Each of us are here to serve, our individual lives of service impacting multitudes, the ripple effect often unbeknownst to us.


Each of our endeavors sharing love helps others to recognize Yeshua’s Presence on earth, for his one life of love and service, as our model, didn’t just change multitudes, it changed mankind.


Shabbat shalom.



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