In her book Preaching the Gospel of Mark, Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm tells a true and remarkable story, though, for understandable reasons, she does not provide the exact particulars. During World War II, a German soldier who was part of the invading army fell sick with typhoid fever along the Russian front. He was nursed back to health by a Russian Mennonite woman who worked at the hospital. Despite the great risk involved, she somehow obtained the appropriate papers so he could go back to Germany rather than back to the front.
After the war, the soldier emigrated to the United States, worked hard and made a fortune. When it came time to consider what to do with his wealth, and with no way to find the Russian Mennonite woman who had helped him, he found a Mennonite congregation in his local phone directory, walked into the pastor’s office and asked, “What would your congregation do if you had access to two million dollars?”
The congregation considered the gift and decided to create a Service and Education Fund that supported disaster relief projects, Habitat for Humanity, volunteer overseas service and grants for those attending a Christian college who are ready to give a year of volunteer service.
Offering a cup of cold water led to a bountiful reward that was paid forward. Surely that Russian Mennonite woman did not lose her reward.