I learned the following story while visiting Iasi, Romania.
In 1940-41 over 11,000 Jews were killed in Romania, mostly by Romanians from a wing of the Orthodox Church. It started when a Romanian and Jewish soldier were captured by the Russians. The Jewish man offered to die in the place of the Romanian, but the Russian killed them both. It was then spread that the Jewish soldier had actually killed the Romanian soldier. So – when the Romanian soldiers came back from war they avenged the death of their fellow countryman.
2011 was the 70-year anniversary of the slaughter. The local Jewish community in Isai has marked it every year by walking from where many Jews were brought and slaughtered to the train station where they were packed into rail cars and shipped away. The Evangelical churches wanted to be part of the ceremony – to tell them that as a Romanian they were sorry for what their parents and grandparents did and as a Christian to say that a believer would never do that to them and that they wanted to express their love for the community.
The local Jewish community said no, so in response the local churches banded together and cleaned all of the Jewish gravesites, which had not been kept up for years. The adults and youth of the church cut grass and bushes and cleaned tombstones. It was one of the first times that the Evangelical churches were able to work together. The Jewish community leaders were moved by the expression of love. A few months later the evangelical believers and the Jewish community walked together, dressed in black, in total silence, to commemorate the terrible event.
Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International. As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.