I've never written a column for The Sentinel before, but after hearing a story like the one told by Mary Taylor Previte, it is hard not to be moved.
When the Rev. Doug Sabin from Kish Valley Grace Brethren Church in Reedsville first called me to ask if I would like to come interview J. Hudson Taylor's great-granddaughter, I jumped at the chance, knowing the great legacy of her family.
But little did I know that Mary Taylor Previte has her own unique experiences -experiences that hold a message of hope for us today.
Micaiah Wise Bilger
Her story may be deemed tragic by many: During World War II, she was separated from her parents and locked in a concentration camp for three years. The 1,500 prisoners who shared the camp were fed animal feed, given no clothes or supplies and kept to a strict schedule inside the camp walls. The dread of knowing what was happening to other prisoners in their situation caused terror for many in that camp.
But Previte would not share the same thoughts of fear and horror about her story. To Previte, her story is one of opportunity and faith in God.
Through her eyes as a child of 9, the imprisonment was not the terrible, awful experience most would believe. Because of the faith and insight of Previte's school teachers, she and the other children were sheltered from the horrors of prison life.
Today, as a retired teacher and politician from New Jersey, Previte tells her story to church congregations and school children across the country.
She shares that the impact she has made by telling her story is far greater than any tragedy that occurred in her years as a child.
Through her experiences, she said she also ministered to her former teachers as well as the American soldiers who rescued them from the camp in 1945.
Wow! Her story really struck me, as it may many who are watching what is happening in our nation - unrest and uncertainty with the economy and the war in Iraq, political scandals, dissatisfaction with our current leaders.
Will things get worse before they get better? Are we headed for another depression? These questions probably are sticking in the back of many Americans' minds right now.
I am a worrier, and watching the unstable economy slump into recession has caused many a perturbed thought in my mind.
But talking with Mary Taylor Previte reminded me that despite horrible circumstances - imprisonment in a Japanese concentration camp, slop for food and separation from loving parents - God works everything together for a purpose.
Good can come from the horror, the depravity, the sorrow, just as it did for Previte.
I was reminded that no matter what happens to our beloved America - prosperity or depression, peace or war, life or death - God will watch over his people, just as he did 9-year-old Mary Taylor Previte.