Updated: Mar 23
This newspaper story spoke volumes to me. Heartwarming and compelling. The encounter began in 2021 when Brock Cvijanovich purchased a building in which 93-year-old Alice Schuman lived in an apartment for 60 years. The owner had stipulated a new buyer must take Schuman on monthly errands. Cvijanovich agreed.
After several months of getting to know Schuman in her apartment in Binghamton, New York, Cvijanovich learned she was a German-born Holocaust survivor who came to the United States after liberation. Both of Schuman’s parents were murdered in German death camps, along with her sister. Even after the Holocaust, her life was difficult. She lost two husbands, one to suicide and another to an accident. The survivor had long yearned to have children, said Cvijanovich, but she had to settle for a doll collection. On her own for decades, Schuman managed to get by because the owner of her building – and later Cvijanovich – kept her rent at $200, while other units in the building rented for ten times as much. At one point, when Cvijanovich came to take her for her errands, he heard sounds of distress coming from the apartment. “I kicked the door down and I got her out,” said Cvijanovich. At the hospital, Schuman was deemed unfit to care for herself and transferred to a nursing home. When it became apparent that Schuman had no friends, family, or resources, Cvijanovich and his mother stepped up to fund her nursing home care, and he eventually became Mrs. Schuman's legal guardian. “For me, this was an opportunity to be the good guy in someone’s story,” said Cvijanovich. At first, Schuman was “suspicious” when Cvijanovich took over payment for her care, but she came to realize there were no strings attached to their regard for her. “She started to respond more to us and be happy to see us,” said Cvijanovich. “The more we saw that, the more it encouraged us to do it.” Noting his mother's difficult life, the young man said, “My mom is alive now because of the good nature and kindness of other people." This motivated him to be kind to Mrs. Schuman. In terms of what he learned from Schuman, Cvijanovich said “One thing that was consistent with Alice was gratitude. They would change her bedsheets and she would be like, how could you be sad with clean bedsheets? She was grateful for everything, even though she had no family, no friends, and no money.” When Schuman started to decline for the last time, Cvijanovich was determined to give her one final gift. “My mom and I were intent on her not dying alone,” he said. And indeed, at the very end of her life, Schuman’s hands were held by Cvijanovich and his mother. Family. Most of us came from one…sometimes sweet, sometimes difficult, broken, or solid. Maybe a combination of all of those. Opening our Bibles to Matthew chapter three, sometime after Jesus calls the twelve disciples, he returns home to Capernaum, where the crowds swarm him. It is so chaotic, he cannot even eat a meal. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+3.20-35&version=NASB Mark 3.20-35 And realizing they cannot stop Jesus, the religious leaders find new ways to accuse him, even suggesting his ability to cast out demons is from Satan himself. Worse, now his family travels from Nazareth to Capernaum to get him, thinking he must be out of his mind. Jesus was told, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You,” Jesus answers with a strange question, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” And looking around at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, this is My brother, and sister, and mother.”2 Hmmm... Whether or not you have a wonderful family, being a Christ follower makes you part of a wonderful new family, which flourishes through the love of God. Life can be so isolating and lonely; it can be trying and difficult, but being part of a Christian community is good and right. I hope and pray you will find a Christian community and participate in the family of God. Love and be loved. And hey, like the young man from New York, we can also look around and love on those who are without family . . . how great is that? We love because he first loved us.3. God really is love. song? Oh, yes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uviM4Z34J6o Christine The Footsteps of Jesus in the gospel of Mark, 13 1 – New York Post: https://nypost.com/2023/03/08/brock-cvijanovich-becomes-legal-guardian-of-93-year-old-holocaust-survivor-alice-schuman/. Matt Lebovic, Times of Israel, 17 March 2023 2 – Mark 3.34-35 3 – 1 John 4.19