Was God on the subway that day?


How many times do we hear the words: “This was just a series of fortunate incidents.” “This is just pure luck.” All sorts of expressions. There are many most astonishing stories in life. If you are not a Christian, it cannot be a miracle, because only God can supersede the ordinary and do miracles. For Christians, the answers are not so difficult. Like the day the God was riding the subway in New York.

Marcel Sternberger was a creature of habit. He used to take the 9:09 Long Island Railroad to Woodside every morning. When you live in New York, you begin to live like a machine. Everything is like clock-work. Even the delicatessen man learns just three words: “Thank you, Next.” Like rote, life goes on.

One day he didn’t do it. He decided to go and visit a sickly friend who was dying. He wanted to pay him a visit because he knew he wouldn’t be around that much longer. As a result, Marcel hops a different train — a train that he had never ridden before. As he gets on another man gets up hurriedly to leave. This leaves a vacant seat which Marcel manages to get. Sitting next to him is a man who is reading a Hungarian newspaper. Marcel Sternberger, being of Hungarian descent himself, eventually strikes up a conversation with the fellow. He asks the stranger what he is doing in New York City. The brother replies that he is in the city looking for his wife.

“What do you mean, you’re looking for your wife?”

The stranger then said, “Well, my wife and I used to live in Dubreken in Hungary. During the war, I was taken away and made to work in the Ukraine burying the German dead. In time I managed to escape and run back to freedom. When I returned home, I found that my wife had also been taken away by the Nazis. One of the neighbours said they thought she had been taken to Auschwitz and, therefore, she would have been killed in the gas ovens.”

Someone else told him that they thought that the Americans had arrived in time to save some of the prisoners and had taken some of them to America. His wife might have been among those that were rescued. He said, “By a long shot, I’m hoping my wife is here.”

Marcel Sternberger kept listening to this story. The more he listened, the more familiar the account sounded to him. He asked, “What is your wife’s name?”

The stranger said, “My wife’s name is Maria. My last name is Paskin. It’s Maria Paskin.”

Sternberger took out his wallet and found a dog-eared piece of paper. As he looked down he saw the name Maria Paskin with a telephone number. He had met the lady at a party some time back. She had shared with him the same story that he had just heard. For some reason, he made a note of her name and number. Marcel then said, “Look, I want to do something for you now. What is your name?” He said, “My name is Bela Paskin.” Sternberger then said, “Bela, get off with me at the next station.”

As they got off of the train, Marcel went over to a phone and called the number on the dog-eared piece of paper. After many, many, rings a feeble voice answers the phone. Marcel asked if he was speaking to Maria Paskin and she said that he was. He then went on to say, “Maria, my name is Marcel Sternberger. We met some weeks ago.” She said that remembered him. He said, “Can you tell me what your husband’s name is?” Rather shocked, the lady answered, “My husband’s name is Bela Paskin.” He said, “Can you tell me a little more about him?” Again, the two stories were identical. Sternberger said, “just a moment, I think you’re about to witness one of the greatest miracles you will ever see.” Then, as Marcel held on to the receiver, he called Bela Paskin into the booth and he said, “Would you please speak to this person?”

In about 10 seconds or so Bela’s expression changed. His look was beyond description. He then started to scream as the tears profusely poured down his cheeks, “It’s Maria! It’s Maria! It’s Maria!” Marcel Sternberger took him away from the telephone and hailed a taxi. He was going to go with his new friend to be a part of the moment when he decided that the occasion was too sacred for him to witness. So he put Bela Paskin into the cab, paid the taxi driver, told him where to take him, and sent him on to the reunion of his dreams.

Life comes in stories: use this link to subscribe to occasional stories via email: https://tinyurl.com/vfd32z4

About the author

Bennie Mostert
By Bennie Mostert