Inge Stein lived an enchanted life as a Jewish girl in Bamberg, Germany, until Hitler came on the scene. When she was 10 years old the brutal Nazi dictator demanded that Germany and all of Europe be cleansed from all Jews. He set a plan in place to first expel and then to exterminate all Jews, making it clear, if Jews remained in Europe it meant certain death.
Inge's papa tried many ways to get his family to safety, desperately applying for visas in other countries, but without sponsors the applications were denied. Trapped, they waited, while every day the risk of being captured by the Nazis increased.
Papa would take care of them if he could, but how could one man protect them from such a powerful army? Every choice, every decision could bring life or death as they raced for survival.
Today, Inge Stein is my neighbor. We live in the same condo complex in Orlando, Florida, but only met personally in 2021. I had noticed a lovely, white-haired, older lady pushing her walker around the complex, and we talked occasionally.
When she learned we both had lived in a foreign country for more than twenty years, she invited me to her home. She treated me to English tea and shortbread. Afterwards, she talked about her life in Cali, Colombia, following her departure from Europe. I related some of my experiences while living in the Philippines.
During another visit, Inge told me she was born to Jewish parents in Germany and had grown up during the rise of Adolf Hitler. This small glimpse created an eagerness to hear more about her life.
After learning from another neighbor that I was a writer, Inge said to me, “I have written my life story, but I’m not a writer. Can you help me turn my story into a book I can give to family and friends?” Thus began Inge’s and my journey together.
The thrill of helping my Jewish friend see her dream come true blended with my desire to help her know the Messiah. While pleased about my Christian life, she confirmed she doesn't believe in God.
Ironically, one day she told me, "I've observed that people who have a relationship with God are happy people." (I pray that one day she will want to join that happy circle!) On each visit, she brought up spiritual topics for us to discuss. Because of her obvious curiousity, I kept watering the seeds God planted in her heart.
Each time I went to her condo, tea and shortbread came first, then our question-and-answer sessions. “I like that you ask me questions,” Inge said, “because it helps me remember more.”
For five months, we met together to discuss details we thought would enhance her story. Amazingly, she included a lot of political information in her writing, and offered many old pictures that are now proudly displayed throughout her book.
As I worked with her story, I continually saw God's hand of protection over Inge. In contrast, Inge still clung to the belief that her papa's efforts enabled her family to escape.