Gunshots rang out through the cool forest air and two lifeless bodies dropped into the shallow graves they had been forced to dig for themselves. One of them was my grandfather. He was 44.
Throughout my life, I've thought a lot about those final, terrible moments my grandfather faced. Had he somehow known his end was coming? Is that why he had pleaded with my grandmother to pray with him? What were his last thoughts?
There's one verse I keep coming back to. It is found in Revelation 14:13, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord ... that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." The last part, "and their works do follow them," especially speaks to me. When my grandfather was murdered, his work of spreading the gospel did not end. Like a baton in a relay race, my grandfather's work was passed on to another runner, someone who would work to share the gospel he loved with others. My burning question has always been, did someone pick up that baton?! Is the gospel message being shared?
By 1944, as the Nazi's began leaving Estonia, my grandmother realized Estonia would indeed fall to the Communists. Panicked Estonians began fleeing the country by the thousands. Several of grandmother's escape attempts fell through. Somehow, she befriended some Nazi soldiers who agreed to allow her to leave with their convoy. At the age of 41, grandmother, bringing only the belongings she could carry, climbed atop war machinery packed into the bed of a Nazi truck. Her two frightened children scrambled up after her. Covered by the blackness of night, the convoy lurched forward towards Germany and the unknown.
To be continued ...