Thoughts for Sunday 26th July 2020 - Text Version

Jane Haining

I was out for a walk with my oldest son at the start of the year, and we were passing Queen’s Park Govanhill Parish Church, and the doors were open; so I said to him, let’s go inside. And we did. When, before too long, we were joined by one of the members and elders there who made us feel very welcome indeed. A drop-in club was meeting at the time, and we were asked more than once if we’d like to join them for a cup of tea. We’d just come from a café, so we declined. I remember there was some live music playing (an accordionist and fiddle player), and it lent a great atmosphere to our visit.

The reason I had ‘dragged’ Stephen in off the street, however, was not to listen to music, but to see the two stained glass panels that were placed in the vestibule of that church building in 1948 to commemorate the life of Jane Haining who, when she had lived in Glasgow, had worshipped there.

One is called Service and the other is called Sacrifice. As well as these works of art, Queen’s Park Govanhill also having a small exhibition with a number of artefacts relating to Jane’s life including a facsimile of a letter she wrote from Auschwitz. From the village of Dunscore near Dumfries, and born in 1897, Jane Haining in 1997 having been honoured by the inclusion of her name in Yad Vashem, the official memorial to victims of the Holocaust, in Jerusalem, Jane Haining having been given the title ‘Righteous Among the Nations’.

Hers is a remarkable story, and it’s one that’s most recently been told by Mary Miller, a former International Scotswoman of the Year for her work with children and young people in Castlemilk and Zimbabwe, Mary’s book, titled ‘Jane Haining, a Life of Love and Courage’, having been published just last year in 2019. It’s a terrific read; quite inspirational in the way it describes how in 1932 as a Church of Scotland missionary Jane Haining went out to Budapest to work with children in a school run by the ‘Scottish Mission to the Jews’. And how, devoted to those same children she defied Church of Scotland advice in 1939 to return.

‘If these children need me in days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in days of darkness,’ she told the church authorities. And they were dark indeed.

In March of 1944 Hungary was invaded by the Nazis. In April Jane was arrested on charges which included weeping while sewing yellow stars onto the girls’ clothing. In May she was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau where, on or about 17 July she died aged just 47. In a letter Jane was able to send to a close friend from that Concentration Camp, Jane Haining writing that, ‘Here on the way to heaven are mountains, but further away than ours.’ It was a reference both to the hills of home and to Psalm 121. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” Amen.

And the reason I mention this is that Mary is going to be speaking on this coming Tuesday evening beginning at 7.30pm on Zoom, the details for which can be found on the homepage of the Glasgow Presbytery website. Pre-registration required. I just know it’s going to be a very interesting talk indeed.

Thank you.


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