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Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed

I’ve heard it said that there is a difference between a belief and a conviction. But what Andre Trocme had seemed to go deeper than either one. It was part of him—the essence of his Christian faith. Pastor Trocme believed in the dignity of all men, women and children. He believed that neglecting to do right was to do evil. And he was unswervingly committed to nonviolence. The result was that the village where he ministered in southern France, Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, became a city of refuge for Jews during the Nazi occupation of France. This small village of three thousand saved five thousand Jews—particularly Jewish children—from 1940 to 1944. What is amazing is that not only did Pastor Trocme risk his life to save others, but he led a whole village to risk their lives as well.

At times Lest Innocent Blood reads like a World War II spy thriller, as when Trocme uses only his wits to escape the Gestapo in the train station. At times it reads like Bonhoeffer’s letters from prison when we learn how Trocme encouraged his fellow prisoners in the internment camp. But the huge impact of this book is to simply observe a pastor, congregation and village taking the ethic of the cross seriously. They were so immersed in their Christian faith that to love one another, to love the refugees, and to love their enemies simply seemed like the natural thing to do. And, to them, love was not something you felt. It was something you did.

Reader Comments (1)

Paul's writings in Corinthians and Galatians make clear that brotherhood requires really treating each other like brothers and sisters. These were challenges for the church then as now. But it doesn't excuse us from trying our best to show "the world" that there is another way.

July 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Hawthorne

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