14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing,16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? (James 2:14-16 NLT)
This is Sir. Nicholas Winton. He was a successful stock broker and an excellent fencer in his day. In fact, he at one time had hoped to represent Great Britain in the Olympics. He was that good.
But if you’ve heard of him at all, and don’t be surprised if you haven’t, it’s not because of his success as a stock broker or his athletic prowess. Nicholas Winton’s life took a dramatic turn in 1939, all because of one decision. He was slated to go on a ski trip in Switzerland over a holiday, when he received an invitation to come to Czechoslovakia to help a friend who was working with Jewish refugees. Czechoslovakia was about to fall to Nazi Germany and many Jewish families were not only being displaced, but rounded up and headed to camps. Soon they would realize they were headed for such camps as Auschwitz, never to be heard of again.
Winton was moved by what he saw and wanted to do all he could to help the Jewish people escape a horrible fate. But he knew that getting everyone out would be impossible. However Great Britain had instituted a policy that while the adults could not all come children would be received if they had the money to pay to register and if there were homes for them to go to.
Winton stole some office paper from the British EMbassy, had Children’s Division printed on it and became an unofficial Official of the government. He printed papers for the children. He raised the money and he found families to care for them. All on his own and all under the nose of both Nazi Germany and his own English government.
Before the country fell, Winton had rescued 667 Jewish children from a fate in the death camps. There would have been more, but one of the transport trains broke down and they couldn’t get to the children.
It’s a remarkable story. And for this reason, Winton has been called the British Oscar Schindler. But what truly makes the story remarkable is that he never told anyone. Not even his wife. In 1988, as she was cleaning out an old trunk in the attic, she discovered the old records of the rescued children. Only then, when confronted, did Nicholas Winton tell the story. “Why didn’t you tell anyone?”, his wife asked? “Well, I moved on to the next thing. I did that and then it was time when it was over to do something else.”
After the story got out Nicholas was reunited with the now middle-aged children he saved. A little research revealed those 667 children now have over 5,000 chidlren and grandchildren. All who owe their very existence to Nicholas Winton.
Later he was interviewed and they asked him how he did it? His reply was simply this: “I’ve always operated my life by this principle. If it’s not blatantly impossible, it can be done. And then I went and did it.”
If it’s not blatantly impossible, it can be done. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to read the words in James at the top of the post without hearing that phrase. This is James reminder that faith ought to change our actions. What we believe about Jesus ought to directly translate out into how we love and serve others. In fact James will go so far as to say the litmus test of the depth of our relationship with Jesus lies in our actions.
And while I think most of us are in agreement with James, how often do those words translate out in our lives? How often is the simple admonition to do good met with the excuse “It’s impossible”? I’d love to help with this ministry, but I simply don’t have the time. I’d love to help them, but I’m just not gifted in that area. Yes, I know that the need is great, but I really can’t spare any time or certainly not any finances to help. What good can one person do anyway?
Time after time we come up with a reason why it’s simply impossible to do good. Or we are swamped by the futility of it all when there is so much need. Please understand, I fully agree that we are to be good stewards of our time and talents. None of us can do everything. And there are times we must legitimately say no. But those times are probably pretty infrequent. Often the reason we don’t do good is we simply see it as impossible.
Sir. Nick embodied what James is talking about. Allowing one’s faith to flow through their actions always asserting that it’s almost never impossible to do good. Are there some things in your life God has brought before you and you automatically wrote them off? Would you consider going back to them , praying and asking, “Is it blatantly impossible? If not, God how will you use me?”
And when you get caught up in the futility of it all, remember Nicholas Winton. One man reaching out to help just a few children, changes over 5,000 lives. What could God do with us when we see doing good is never impossible and always life changing?
Rev. Dr. Brian Jones <><