Love without Bread

OUR DAILY BREAD IS A MUST

We go to church regularly and we enjoy worshipping.  I was surprised when I was greeted by one person with a question, “Have you solved the world’s problems?”  I smiled and mumbled an answer with another question to defend myself.  After church, I began to ponder and the person’s question began to be a grain of salt in my mouth.  It tasted like a bit of sarcasm.  It reminded me of my boyhood days when our people in Eastern Poland believed that nothing could go wrong with God on their side.  They were people of the land with mixed farming that produced ample food, especially bread.  The war came and drove us from our land and our search for bread changed our world.  We had forgotten why our ancestors had moved to that part of the world?  This precisely is what Americans are forgetting.  My next series shall be on how bread has and will continue to impact man’s existence.

I have researched the reason for moving to certain areas and they all had to do with securing bread.  Just to get a job so one can earn bread requires transfers, adjustments and changes.  The Poles who claimed that territory as their own drove my ancestors from East Prussia.  They were allowed to settle in Ukrainian woods under Russia.   They converted the area into grain fields and farms.  My grandmother was two years old when her parents had to move or convert to become Polish.   Many did convert and when Hitler reclaimed that territory, some reverted to being Germans.  He also made a deal with Stalin to have my ancestors return to their place of origin.  My grandmother was brought back to where she was born and there she died and was buried.  I was twelve years old, when we took her to her place of rest.  I have a picture of a cousin and I riding on her wagon.  Hitler did not bring us back because we were Germans, but because we knew how to farm without electricity and motorized power.  We also understood the language, the culture and the traditions to manage Polish lands. 

It was all about bread.  The Poles needed the land that my ancestors had prepared to raise bread.  The Russians welcomed our people for their reputation in farming.  Hitler needed our people back and Communist Stalin had no use for us.  In 1945, we were again driven from the Polish farms and ended up without bread.  Did religion have any input?  It had with regard to forced conversion.  In antiquity, they were all pagans or non-Christians.  The first Christians may have been of the Greek persuasion, similar to Russian Orthodoxy.  Archeology found evidence as far west as Ireland.  Before the rise of Islam, the Greek Churches, under the Bishop of Constantinople, were stronger than the Roman Churches. The Latins became more powerful with the help of the Muslims and forced Greek believers to change.  It was a sad period in Christian history, when Rome did not accept the Greeks as equal members; but they regarded the Muslim anti-Christian move, as an act of God to punish the heretics.  It took another five hundred years before Rome realized that Islam was not satisfied with the Greek world.  Rome found it necessary to take up arms against Islam.  The Roman Bishop had resisted the Germanic invasion without the sword, but not the Muslims.

The Reformation allowed people to choose, after thirty years of bloodshed, and my ancestor became Lutherans.  We have Church entries in East Prussia or Western Poland at the end of Frederick the Great.  In the Ukraine, they converted to Baptist and to Church of God.  The Lutherans did not reciprocate kindly.  I heard them sing, “A Baptist is no devil and no Christ.”  When World War II began and our people were persecuted, faith in a personal Lord and Savior carried our people through the crisis.  The irony was that, help came not from Christians, but from the Bolsheviks and the Nazis.  They saved our lives from the fanatical Polish nationalists that imprisoned and killed many of our people.  The other irony is that, a kind Pole saved me from drowning during the same time.  There is no end to God’s mystery, and the way He has things arranged.  There is goodness in everyone, and God will use it when it is necessary.  When God no longer could depend on the seed of Abraham, he enlisted Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (Jer. 25:9) and Cyrus of Persia to do his bidding (Ez. 1) and He will again shorten the mayhem of Christians (Mk. 13:20).  It does not point to the USA that has found a cunning legal way to silence Christians. 

I was not the first to come to the Americas from my family.  My grandfather’s brother from my father’s side immigrated before World War I to the USA and my mother’s brother before World War II to Canada.  They did not come here because of religion, but because there was land available and the potential for bread was their main reason.  The freedom to exercise their faith was an attraction, but nothing special because the Poles and even the Nazis did not discourage our people from worshipping Christ and the God of the Bible.  I remember how we all lived in a very large building with a big hall in Riesa Germany for several months, before we were sent back to Poland to manage farms, shops and industry.  Three times a day, we would gather for our meals in the huge hall and the commandant dressed in brown and black would raise his arm to “Heil Hitler,” then he prayed in the name of Jesus and God the father of his Nazi party.  He was careful not to attack the faith of our people because he needed bread more than a controversy.  When our people were settled on Polish holdings, some small Nazis tried to stop Christian worship, but the women complained and they were removed.  One Nazi from the Reich, before he was moved, promised my father that he would disappear after their glorious victory.  Bread played a vital part for the Nazi agenda of more “Lebensraum,” it had to do with enlarging the shrinking country in need of bread.

My story is no different from that of the Pilgrims or any other immigrants, who came to the American shores.  It was all about Lebensraum or a place where you could raise bread, so one could practice what one believes.  It was the freedom to raise bread, without the King interfering in the process.  It was taxation without representation.  Religion in Europe and in England had become national political; that is they were one and the same or three in one.  Germany was still divided and Lutherans and Roman Catholics set policies and in England it was the Church of England.  There was no living space for outsiders to raise bread in Europe, and America had already been prepared to receive the Pilgrims.  They did not face hostile Indians.  Some one had been there before that was friendlier than the Pilgrims became.  After the friendly Indians taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn and plant potatoes, the Pilgrims turned on the Indians and forced them to accept their form of Christianity.  They had no scruples to use Jesus and God to punish and dispose of people that did not assimilate into their culture they called religion.

Man–made or interpreted religion has been a frightening cause and it will continue to harass mankind.  All religions are man-made claiming that God instructed them to do so.  There are similarities between Jesus, Moses and Muhammad; but there are far greater differences between them.  However, bread has been even more powerful than faith.  It was Moses who said, “that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord” (Deut. 8:3). Without bread, man does not live at all and without law or regulation he lives even less.  The “mouth of the Lord” is the legal and right way to secure bread.  In our day, politicians have become the mouth of a lord.  They satisfy their voters with borrowed bread that others raised.  Here is the crucial issue we are going to look at in our series, “Our Daily Bread.”  The question to be asked is, “What happens to a people when they put their bread makers out of business?”  It is not a promising entertaining thought, but a horrible nightmare to be in it.  The truth is a two-edged sword.  It has a negative and a positive account and we shall look at both.