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Little town teaches about peace, compassion

(Rev. Dr. Wes Taylor pastors Tualatin United Methodist Church, 20200 S.W. Martinazzi Ave. For more information, call 503-692-1820.)

We are living in the midst of a culture of searching and seeking. Also, we are living in the midst of an era of doubt and despair. Sadly, too, we are living in the midst of a time of violence and war making.

Living through and in these deeply troubled times, I reflect back upon another such time. I am thinking of the period of 1935-1945. This was a decade of extreme danger, despair, and violence. All that was good, just, kind, peaceful, and gentle had been ripped from the heart of humanity.

In the very middle of all this war, hatred, and brutality that could be found, a rather small village in southern France, Le Chambon, was a refuge for safety, sanity, compassion, and peace. In that Protestant village lived Pastor Andre Trocme, his wife Magda, their family, and the many members of the Protestant Temple (church).

Early on, the church and the village decided that the care, feeding, housing, and protection of persons of Jewish descent was of the greatest urgency. Gradually at first, Jewish men and women came to Le Chambon for safety and for the basic necessities of life. Then more and more, then whole families, then hundreds and hundreds of Jewish children came for safety to Le Chambon.

By the end of the war, well over 5,000 Jewish persons (many were children) came to live in Le Chambon and or to pass through to safety beyond the reach of the Nazis. Le Chambon became a light and life amidst the darkness and evil of the world of that day.

The Trocme family and many, many other families understood that there are much greater forces for peace and justice working in the world than we often realize or admit. And peaceful forces are far greater than armies of war making and military might.

The village of Le Chambon stood then as a peaceful and most powerful force up to the Nazi cause and might. Not only did the village stand strong, but it overcame Nazi oppression, brutality, and injustice.

There is a message here for us today from the people of Le Chambon. May we learn from that message and may we finally learn that compassion, love and peace making are the most powerful forces on earth.