A STORY OF FAITH IN THE FAMILY
by Nicolette Beharie
It was a 1946 Easter treat that Gunter Rochow will never forget: one egg per person. He was 11 years old at the time.
“When food was in short supply as a consequence of the Second World War, the German government issued a special egg ration of one egg per person,” remembers Gunter, now 83. “Most people boiled or coloured theirs as an Easter treat.”
But Gunter’s resourceful mother, Annie, had a different plan in mind.
With a firm resolve to feed her three children – and a little faith – Annie convinced her family to give up their Easter treats. Gunter vividly recalls his mother’s reasoning at the time. “If each of us eats the Easter egg it makes for a nice Easter treat, but then the eggs are gone and the misery of supply continues.”
While their friends and neighbours enjoyed the delicious multi- coloured eggs that were arrayed on their tables that Easter, Annie had faith for something more. Carefully securing her family’s five eggs, she searched for someone to exchange them for fertilized ones instead. After receiving the new eggs, Annie waited patiently for the incubation process to be complete. Thankfully, all five of the eggs hatched.
Gunter’s family decided to raise the chicks outside their residential building. Surrounded by a garden, they kept the chicks in a fenced area of the yard – in plain view of their neighbours and skeptical passersby. Although it was an uncommon sight to find chickens outside a residential building, the enclosed area created what Gunter calls “the perfect setting” to raise chicks.
“It caused some surprise, and maybe a bit of envy, from others who had not taken that course,” says Gunter. “But, fortunately, our neighbours were very decent and we had no problems.”
Gunter’s family and neighbours watched as the five noisy chicks in their yard grew to become mature hens. Before long, the wisdom of Gunter’s mother paid off. They now had an abundance of eggs that they could eat on a regular basis. They also had enough to share with their neighbours.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” says Gunter. “When you think we could have finished our eggs at Easter time, yet by September or October the eggs were a constant source of supply.”
This experience made an indelible impression on Gunter’s life. He learned how powerful faith can be in the midst of challenging circumstances. This lesson, along with many others he learned from his mother, helped shape him into the person he is today. It also encouraged him to instill some of the same values in his own three sons.
This past Christmas, Gunter and his wife, Reinhilde, were reminded of his mother’s faith when they came across the CBM Hopeful Gifts for Change catalogue, which offers gifts for people in need around the world. “When we saw the two hens and a rooster, it immediately jumped out at us – how meaningful that was at the time when I was growing up,” says Gunter.
He and his wife decided to purchase a poultry gift through the CBM catalogue for each of their 11 grandchildren, and they shared Gunter’s egg story in their Christmas cards to illustrate the impact that the gift of chickens could have on a family. “We hope that our grandchildren will look beyond themselves and that this will become a part of their lives,” says Gunter. “I have every reason to believe that will be happening.”
Looking back, Gunter is thankful for the experience he had as a child and for his mother’s faith. “I don’t think I ever questioned the wisdom of my mother in making that suggestion [to trade our Easter eggs],” he remembers. “Even at that time, it seemed like a wonderful idea to us: to forgo the satisfaction of the moment for the expectation of better things to come.”