Love and War
To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, June 10.
other called the four children together in their small home in the basement of a tall apartment building in Rome, Italy. The two brothers and the two sisters looked at Mother anxiously. They wondered what she was going to say.
“We have found someone to rent a bedroom,” Mother said. “She will arrive soon.”
The brothers and sisters looked at each other. They knew what that meant. Their home only had two bedrooms. The boys slept in one bedroom, and Mother and the girls slept in the other. The boys would have to give up their bedroom to the renter and sleep in the hallway.
But the boys didn’t mind. The family was poor. It was 1943, and Italy was mired in World War II. Father was away at war, and Mother needed money to buy food. The rent money would help.
Before long, the renter arrived and moved into the bedroom. Mother introduced her to the children as Aunt Clelia.
Aunt Clelia didn’t act like anyone whom Mother and the children had ever met. She did something unusual. Every evening, before she went to bed, she opened a Bible and read it by the light of a candle. Mother was curious about why she was reading the Bible. The children were curious about why she was reading the Bible. They had never read the Bible at home. Aunt Clelia said she read the Bible because she loved God.
Aunt Clelia had not always read the Bible. Several years earlier, she had been sent to prison for stealing money from the post office where she worked. She had stolen the money to help her husband pay off a big debt. But it was wrong to steal the money, and she had gone to prison. While in prison, she began to think about God. A Seventh-day Adventist pastor came to the prison and taught her about God from the Bible. It was then that she began to read the Bible every day. She gave her heart to God.
When she was released from prison, she needed a place to stay. Unfortunately, her husband had died while she was in prison, and she had nowhere to live. But the Adventist pastor had known that Mother was looking for someone to rent a room in her apartment. So, he had put Mother in touch with Aunt Clelia, and Aunt Clelia had moved in.
The war reached Rome while Aunt Clelia was living in the rented room. Sirens wailed when warplanes approached the city, warning people to flee to underground bomb shelters to find safety from falling bombs. Every time they heard the sirens, Mother, Aunt Clelia, and the four children ran from their basement apartment to a nearby bomb shelter.
On July 19, 1943, the sirens wailed, and Mother, Aunt Clelia, and the four children ran to the bomb shelter. They joined other people huddling inside and listening to bombs exploding overhead. The explosions were louder than usual. This time, the bombs were falling on the apartment buildings and streets right over their heads.
Across the city, the Adventist pastor heard on the radio that the neighborhood where Mother, Aunt Clelia, and the four children were living was being bombed. He was worried, and he prayed for their safety. Even while the bombs were falling, he headed to the neighborhood to make sure that they were safe. The bombing stopped shortly before he arrived, and people were beginning to leave the bomb shelters. The pastor arrived just as Mother, Aunt Clelia, and the four children were coming out of the bomb shelter.
Fires were burning. Mother saw the shadowy figure of the pastor in the smoke and dust. She couldn’t believe her eyes. The pastor had risked his life to make sure that she and her family were safe. At that moment, Mother decided to give her heart to God. She saw that the pastor was filled with the love of God. She saw that Aunt Clelia was filled with the love of God. A love for God filled her heart.
When Mother, Aunt Clelia, and the children returned to their home, they found ruins. The tall apartment building above their basement home had been reduced to rubble. Not one house in the apartment building remained intact. But their basement home was not damaged. Not even a bed or a table was broken. The only trace of the bombing was the metal fragment of a bomb that one of the children found in the closet. That was it. It was a miracle!
A short time later, the whole family became members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
A few years after that, in 1950, another boy, named Renato, was born into the family. He is thankful to God for allowing him to grow up in an Adventist home.
“I entered the Adventist Church on my mother’s lap, and I am still here,” Renato says. “I was born an Adventist because of a story that started before I was born.”