Reimar Schultze was born in Nazi Germany with Jewish blood from his mother's side. His family skirted the Holocaust, survived hundreds of bombing raids, escaped the Soviet invasion and endured two years behind barbed wire. In the midst of this wartime devastation youthful Schultze began to wrestle with the questions of origin, purpose, and destiny. He later went on to become a pastor, writer, pilot, husband and father to four children.
“I was born in
Hamburg, Germany in 1936.
I am part-Jewish.”
— Name, Title
Even though my mother was only half-Jewish, the Nazi party officials told my Aryan father that he had to divorce his Jewish wife and children if he wanted a future in the Party. My father quit the Party meetings, and consequently, he was fired from his job. Soon afterward, I was the first child of our family to be denied a child-support check because of my Jewish ancestry.
The Holocaust of Nazi Germany did not begin overnight. It was preceded by an ever-increasing array of harassments of the Jews and those of Jewish descent. Public humiliations, the destruction of Jewish professional classes and Jewish property, and the limitation of movement were just a few of the early atrocities. Then, there was the alleged resettlement of Jews in the east, which was merely a cover-up of the beginning of the extermination camps.
We lived in Hamburg, Germany, at the time of the beginning of the anti-Jewish unrest. My Jewish grandfather and my mother's younger sister soon escaped to England. The nightly bombings and the Nazi's continuing pressure on my father to seek a divorce convinced him to move our family to a remote town in the eastern part of Germany. Four months after our move, the five-story apartment building of our former residence was leveled by British bombs, leaving only four survivors. Our move east had delivered us from death.
In 1944, my father died, leaving my mother with five children, including one infant. The Red Army was advancing toward our city, bringing danger to our doorstep once again. Twenty-four hours before the army took our city, we heard a radio broadcast offering standing-room only for refugees on an improvised Red Cross hospital train. To qualify, there had to be at least three children, including an infant, and they also had to be orphans or half-orphans. Because of my father's death and the birth of the fifth child, we had met the qualifications, preparing the way for our escape from the Communists.
My mother tied a featherbed and other belongings on my back as we prepared to leave our lovely home to take that long walk through the deep snow to the railroad station. However, my load was too heavy, and I fell backward. My mother removed some of our belongings from me, and we were off. We stood in the snow all night, my mother holding the baby, while wounded soldiers were loaded into the four-level bunks stacked two on each side of the rail cars. By dawn, we were allowed to board the hospital train, standing shoulder to shoulder for quite awhile. The two-hour train ride became a three-day and three-night adventure of survival on the rail while Russian and German troops fought over the railroad tracks.
Additional miracles delivered us from torpedo boats and mines during our evacuation by ship from the eastern part of Germany and also from famine conditions during the two years we spent in a refugee prison camp in Denmark. My baby sister was one of the famine casualties and was buried in a mass grave on foreign soil. She was born to get us on the Red Cross hospital train in Germany, which delivered us from the Communists. Life in the midst of sickness, destruction, mass graves, and hunger raised many questions, especially when it was life without God!
FIRST THOUGHTS OF GOD
To me, in those days, God was a detached foreigner as I lived in a vacuum of darkness. After the first year in the camp of 36,000 refugees, death through sickness and famine had emptied enough barracks for the refugees to start a school system. My teacher had me memorize "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." As I lay on my bunk bed at night, I entertained my first thoughts about God. Like little Samuel of the Old Testament, I felt that someone was calling me, but I did not know who it was.
Then one day in about 1950, I was on my first scouting trip after returning to West Germany when the invisible power that had protected us countless times introduced Himself to me. At dawn, I crawled out from underneath the pine branches that I had used to shelter my body that night. The golden beams of the sun surrounded me as they broke through the mysterious morning mist. The trees stood in majestic silence. Only the song of a nightingale broke the holy hush. For a moment, God stepped off His throne to come down to me, clothed in rays of gold. Then and there, He spoke to my heart, "I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU. I AM LOVE." His healing love came into my body and soul. I knew then and there that GOD IS!
CHRISTIANITY IS TRANFORMATION
The war years had left their emotional scars on my life, and I had become a withdrawn, non-communicative introvert: a loner. I was sixteen, a senior in high school. One day, after having presented Darwin's Theory of Evolution, my atheistic science professor asked, "Is there anyone in class who would like to dispute Darwin's evolution?"
The very second my professor had uttered the last word of his request, an invisible something lifted me to my feet; my 6-foot 4-inch frame stood out noticeably in the classroom. "I shall speak against this tomorrow," were the words that flowed from my lips. The class was electrified. They had never heard me speak other than in terms of "Yes" and "No" and "How do you do." I was also shocked with amazement. The next day's science hour would be mine.
I was no longer myself. Instead of fright, I felt a little thrill in my soul. I felt a new freedom. I sensed somehow that I was on a wonderful road of discovery.
On coming home, I shared the experience with my mother, and she gave me her Bible. I searched the Bible for the first time. Everything was strange to me. I did not know when it was written and what, if anything, it said about the origin of the world and its order. I searched the last book, expecting the latest information at the end of the book, but no answer came. The symbols merely confused me.
The next day, I stood before an expectant class. All eyes were fixed upon me. I said, "It cannot be, it cannot be. There must be a God!" This was the first sermon that I ever preached. Since no further words came to my mind, I returned to my seat. As I turned to slip into my bench, the glory of God came upon me, and God spoke to me a second time, saying: "I WILL GIVE YOU THE ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS OF ORIGIN, PURPOSE AND DESTINY." I was elated.
Like a light, it came to me that these are the questions of life, and they must be at the heart of all education; all else is secondary. The educational system, by circumventing these questions, was missing its primary obligation to the untold masses of its students.
From then on, I read the Scriptures daily and I prayed daily to the "unknown God." After six months of searching, I had found only two Scripture verses that had any meaning to me. One was Luke 11:9: "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." I said to God that if there was ever an asking, seeking, and knocking soul, I was one. I put God to a test. If Jesus was alive and the Scriptures were true, I deduced that I would find LIFE. If I did not find LIFE as the Scriptures had promised, the Bible was a hoax, and Christ was dead. I was hoping that God would win, for if He lost, then where could I turn? The other passage that spoke to me was Revelation 3:20: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."
Christ was seeking an entrance into my life. There needed to be an inner transformation rather than just a moral reformation. From this verse, I realized that Christianity was not in worshipping the Christ without, but in possessing Christ within. Six months following these discoveries, I knelt with Evangelist Major Ian Thomas in an old English castle to bid Christ's entrance into my life. At first, my faith was faltering, but Ian Thomas led me to a third and fourth verse that settled the issue: "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation...For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:10-13).
My intellectual faith turned into childlike trust as I repented, confessed my sins and invited Christ Jesus to enter into my heart. It was at that moment that I knew God's Scriptures had stood the test and that, indeed, Christ was alive. My body had become the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16). I had given myself to the pursuit of "...holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14). Christianity had begun within me, and I was on the way to take up the cross, and to follow Jesus in discipleship (Matt. 10:38).
Years later, the Lord called me into the ministry to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, to declare the answers to the questions of origin, purpose and destiny that God had begun to give me as a sixteen-year-old boy.
— Name, Title