Last month Brenda Fischer announced a new disability section at Bethlehem’s church library. Bright Valley of Love by Edna Hong is one of the books she mentioned, along with her personal endorsement: “This is a book you will never forget.”
I want to add my own endorsement. This book, written from the perspective of a boy with significant physical disabilities, is like none I have ever read.
The subtitle, “The true story of a handicapped child who finds a haven of love in the nightmare of Nazi Germany,” is not entirely accurate as only the final two chapters deal with that horrible time in our history.
But every page deals with the reality of this boy’s existence – the cruel beginnings, the extraordinary change that comes when Bible-believing, God-honoring men and women enter his life, and the incredible, courageous intervention – and examples of prayerful dependence – that protects this community during the worst of the Nazi campaign against those with disabilities.
Here is a taste (emphasis in bold is mine):
The two looked at each other, looked deep into each other. Pastor Fritz looked and saw the boy within the stunted, twisted body. The boy within the stunted, twisted body looked and saw the man who did not see his stunted twisted body, did not see it at all. . .
In a wave that flooded over the boy a dim and jumbled but wildly wonderful realization of the possibility of life – that he was not a piece of human garbage carried along on a gray and endless tide of time. (Hong, p. 38)
How I want this for Bethlehem – that the boys and girls and men and women with disabilities who come would be seen and welcomed as real people rather than their disabilities! I see it happening, praise God; yet there is still so much to do. How frequently I still fail at this, even after God has blessed me with so much.
Tomorrow, the reality that the evil of that time is still with us today.