Sunday, July 14, 2013



Read this true story (or at least I think so!) that appeared in Reader's Digest.

The true story is told, in Reader’s Digest,
of a man by the name of Marcel Sternberger.

Marcel Sternberger took the same subway train every day, on the Long Island railroad.
Every day, he was on that same subway. Until, one day, a friend of his was critically ill. Sternberger instead visited his friend in the hospital, and wound up spending the morning. Sternberger then had to take a noon train to work - a train he had never been on before.

Sternberger was confounded by the noon crowds. He walked into one of the subway cars, which he knew wouldn't have any vacant seats, when one of the people seated inside
belatedly realized this was his stop, jumped up and ran out the door.

Sternberger plunged into the now vacant seat. Elbow to elbow, they were all sitting there
and one person had the audacity to open a newspaper and start reading it.

It was a Hungarian newspaper. Marcel Sternberger just happened to read Hungarian. Sternberger turned to the man seated next to
him and said, "I see you are looking at the classified ads. Are you looking for a job?"

The other man answered, "No sir. I am looking for my wife!" "I don't understand you,"
replied a confused Sternberger.

Thus began an incredible story.
"Sir," explained the stranger, "I used to live in Debrecen, in Hungary. I was happily married, but during the war I was taken away by the Nazis to the Ukraine to bury the German dead. When I returned, I found out the Nazis had come into our home, taken my wife and probably taken her to Auschwitz.

"My only hope is, shortly after that, the Allies had landed, delivered people and that my wife was one of those rescued. I am assuming that if she were safe, she would have been brought here to America. 

From my home in Debrecen, to the Ukraine, I have come here looking for my wife. I am looking in the newspaper to see if there is an ad placed by her."

(Auschwitz was one of the most infamous Nazi death camps. Rudolph Hess,who ran Auschwitz for three years, testified at the Nuremberg War Crimes trials that over 2½ million people had been executed there and thousands of others had starved to death.)

Something about the story seemed hauntingly familiar to Marcel Sternberger. Suddenly Sternberger remembered, that some time before, he had been at a cocktail party where he had been seated beside a woman from Hungary.

This woman told Sternberger she used to live in Debrecen and had been
married to a man who had been taken to the Ukraine. She had been taken to Auschwitz.
When she was rescued, she was brought to the New York city, not knowing if her husband was alive or dead.

As this woman told her story, she explained to Sternberger that she was praying that some day she would meet her husband again. As Sternberger thought of the two stories, he wondered if it were possible that there could be a match. He pulled out his wallet, took out a dog-earned piece of paper, and checked the paper which had the woman’s name, Maria Paskin, and her phone number.

Sternberger crumpled that piece of paper, put it back in his wallet and said,
"Sir, what is your wife’s name?" The stranger answered, "My wife’s name is Maria Paskin." 

Sternberger asked, "What is your name?" "My name is Bella Paskin," was the answer.
Sternberger then asked, "Mr. Paskin, would you get off with me at the next station for a moment? I want to make a telephone call." But Sternberger didn't tell him why.

He did, at one point, ask him what his street address had been in Debrecen.
(Incredibly, Paskin got off the subway train with Sternberger, whom he had only met a few minutes before -- and without even knowing why!)

Keeping Bella Paskin some distance away, Sternberger then made a phone call. When a woman answered the phone, Sternberger asked, "Who is this?" "Maria," came the reply. 

"Maria, do you remember me? My name is Marcel Sternberger. I met you at a party recently?"
Maria said yes, she remembered. "Maria, what was your husband’s name?" 

She said, "My husband’s name was Bella Paskin." 

"Maria, what was your street address where you lived in Debrecen?"

She gave him the street address. Everything matched.

Calling Mr. Paskin over, Sternberger said, "Sir, you are about to witness the greatest miracle of your life," and handed him the phone. 

A very puzzled Bella Paskin looked at the phone and putting it up to his ear, said, tentatively, "Hello!"

You can imagine the rest of the story, as Bella Paskin began crying his heart out, and just repeating one word over and over, "Maria, Maria, Maria." 

Listen to how Reader’s Digest ends the article:
"Skeptical persons will no doubt attribute even such a memorable
afternoon to mere chance. 

But was it chance that made Sternberger
suddenly decide to visit his sick friend and take a subway line he had
never been on before? 

Was it chance that caused a man sitting by the door
of the car to rush out just as Sternberger came in?

Was it chance that caused Bella Paskin to be sitting beside Sternberger,
reading a Hungarian newspaper?

Was it chance . . . or did God ride the Brooklyn subway that

By Ravi Zaccharis:

Ravi concluded the telling of this story with two simple statements,
containing a total of only four words, but those words are perhaps the
most powerful sermon I have ever heard. Beyond these two statements,
nothing else really matters: "God is! . . . God acts!"

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