Grace Happens Here
By Max Lucado
A Song in the Heart
Barbara Leininger and her sister, Regina, were daughters of German immigrants who had settled in Colonial Pennsylvania, and the two girls were eleven and nine years old when they were kidnapped. On a fall day in 1755, the sisters were in the farm cabin with their brother and father when two Indian warriors slammed open the door. . . . Their father offered the Indians food and tobacco. He told the girls to fetch a bucket of water, that the men must be thirsty. As the girls scurried out the door, he spoke to them in German and told them not to come back until the Indians were gone. They raced toward the nearby creek. . . .Later the Indians found the girls hiding in the grass and dragged them away. . . . Days became weeks as the Indians marched the captives westward. Barbara did her best to stay close to Regina and keep up her spirits. She reminded Regina of the song their mother had taught them:
Alone, yet not alone am I
Though in this solitude so drear
I feel my Savior always nigh.
At a certain point, the Indians dispersed, separating the sisters. . . . The two girls were marched in opposite directions. Barbara’s journey continued several weeks, deeper and deeper into the forest. . . . She lost all contact with her family and fellow settlers. Three years later Barbara escaped. She ran through the woods for eleven days, finally reaching safety at Fort
Pitt. . . . No one had news of Regina.
Barbara thought daily of her sister, but her hope had no substance until six years later. She had married and had begun raising her own family when she received word that 206 captives had been rescued and taken to Fort Carlisle. Might Regina be one of them?
Barbara and her mother set off to find out. The sight of the refugees stunned them. Most had spent years isolated in villages, separated from any settlers. They were emaciated and confused. They were so pale they blended in with the snow.
Barbara and her mother walked up and down the line, calling Regina’s name, searching faces and speaking German. No one looked or spoke back. The mother and daughter turned away with tears in their eyes and told the colonel that Regina wasn’t among the rescued. The colonel urged them to be sure. He asked about identifying blemishes such as scars or birthmarks. There were none. He asked about heirlooms, a necklace or bracelet. The mother shook her head. Regina had been wearing no jewelry. The colonel had one final idea: was there a childhood memory or song? The faces of the two women brightened. What about the song they sang each night? Barbara and her mother immediately turned and began to walk slowly up and down the rows. As they walked, they sang, “Alone, yet not alone am I . . .” For a long time no one responded. . . .
Then all of a sudden Barbara heard a loud cry. A tall, slender girl rushed out of the crowd toward her mother, embraced her, and began to sing the verse. Regina had not recognized her mother or sister. She had forgotten how to speak English and German. But she remembered the song that had been placed in her heart as a young girl. God places a song in the hearts of his children too. A song of hope and life. “He put a new song in my mouth”
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