Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Rainbow in the Midst of the Storm

André Trocmé was the pastor of a small French Reformed congregation in the middle of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon during World War II.

When the order came down from the pro-Nazi Vichy government to deport the Jews who had taken refuge in this mountainous region of southeastern France, Trocmé refused to cooperate. He proclaimed from his pulpit that the people must create a “city of refuge” for all those sought by the authorities, “lest innocent blood be shed” (Deut 19:10). The Chambonnais responded to their pastor’s charge, ignored the official government decree, and with the Sermon on the Mount as their basic plan of action began to hide and then smuggle Jews and other refugees from all over Europe to Switzerland.

By the end of the war, and without firing a shot, the little Huguenot church in Le Chambon, with assistance from an even smaller Plymouth Brethren congregation, saved some 5,000 lives, though there were some in the village who were imprisoned and executed, including members of Trocmé’s own family.

After the war the mother of three children who were saved by the Christians in Le Chambon exclaimed that, “The Holocaust was the storm, lightning, wind, rain, yes. And Le Chambon was the rainbow.”

Source: Barry Harvey, ‘From the Heart of the Storm…’ Review and Expositor, 97 (2000) 315.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: View of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon-date unknown.