Feb 112014

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 10:37-38 (ESV)

You may or may not know that I am the son of a German immigrant. My father came to this country (legally!) in 1956. President Eisenhower opened the way for 100,000 European refugees to come to America and work. My father was one of them. In 1944, my father (at age 7), his two sisters, his aunt and his grandmother, escaped their village by night as it was surround by Russian soldiers. Others in the town escaped also, but very few survived. My father ended up in a refugee camp in Denmark, and was there until Christmas of 1946, already a year and a half after the war. The stories he tells about his life before and after the war are simply amazing. Right now, I have the privilege of editing his autobiography entitled A Home to Call My Own. It is getting closer to completion and, Lord willing, will be published by the end of this year.

In the book, my dad tells a story that reminded me of the verses above. We cannot “half-way” come to Christ, can we? He is either first in our lives or He is not. There is no middle ground for a disciple of Jesus. To illustrate this, my dad tells of the moment he received a letter from his aunt, who came to America after World War I and would open her home to take in my dad and his sister in Cincinnati, Ohio. Working with the American consulate in Frankfurt, the visas were approved and my dad had a choice to make: do I leave my father and mother, two brothers, and my entire homeland – do I leave it all and come to America? My dad talks about how difficult it was to make this decision. But he knew that this was his only opportunity to escape war-torn Germany and pursue a better life.

Well, on December 20, 1956, at 1:10 PM, my dad set foot on Pier 86 in New York City, welcomed by the Lady of Freedom (Statute of Liberty). It was not long after, when they arrived in Cincinnati, that my dad heard the Gospel at a German youth group meeting in Cincinnati. God saved him on that night and his life really changed forever! Jesus took first place, and I was blessed to watch this man live as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

The cost of discipleship is great, but there is no better life in the world. When we evangelize, one thing we don’t always make clear is that Christ is to be received by faith – not as a “pain in the neck” or to “cramp our style” – to be received, rather, as our greatest treasure! He is the Great Reward. My dad came to America because he knew there was no better nation on earth. We should call people to come to Christ because He is the greatest treasure! Being a disciple of Christ is not a “pain in the neck”, but is the greatest joy in the universe. It reminds me of the chorus, “Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you. There is no greater thing. You’re my all, you’re my rest, you’re my joy, my righteousness, and I love you, Lord!”

So let us remember to call the lost to forsake all and follow Jesus, knowing that He is greatest treasure of all! When you have the greatest treasure, you will have no regrets that you left the world behind!

Happy in Jesus,

Bill Schakat


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