Kissing the Ground
Today we're dipping into our archives and sharing one of the military miracles from a few months back. Submitted by his daughter, Sister Barbara Genaro Nuzzi, this is the incredible story of Brother Armand Genaro. It's a little long but worth every word.
On August 17, 1941, nine young people from the Niles Branch dedicated their hearts to the Lord in baptism. The entrance of the United States into the war in December of that year soon overshadowed the joy of this day. Of the five brothers baptized, four of them were drafted, one of which was Armand Genaro.
While Armand was fighting near Aachen, Germany, he was pinned down by enemy fire, and his entire squad was killed, leaving him alone. He lay still on the ground for 32 hours. It was January, and he soon became stiff and frozen, surrounded by the enemy.
The German soldiers stripped the dead bodies of their valuables. When they tried to roll him over, they quickly knew he was alive. The soldier then put his rifle to the head of our brother, but the prayers of the saints were with him, and God spared his life. He was taken as a prisoner of war on October 1, 1944.
He, along with other POWs, was shipped away in a boxcar, where they were jammed in shoulder-to-shoulder, no food, no facilities, and no room to even sit. Men died and their bodies could not fall to the floor! Shortly after they arrived at the POW camp, Russian troops were bearing down on the city, so the Germans had to move their prisoners. They marched them for 10 days, the first and second day non-stop. They received no food until the fourth day—a cup of barley soup (with worms).
It was winter and very cold and snowy. They received no other food until they reached their destination, Buchenwald. Once there, they were put into tents with straw on the ground, no bedding, no warmth, no water, and no relief. Brother Armand wore the same clothes for eight months. He was deloused once but was not given an opportunity to bathe the entire time.
Back home, the branch had continual prayer for their soldiers overseas. In November 1944, his parents received a telegram from the War Department saying that Armand was MIA. The Red Cross sent a representative to the home of Brother Pete and Sister Josephine to comfort them. During this meeting, the representative did not understand their calmness and became puzzled. She asked their daughter Mary, “Do they understand what I am saying to them?” Mary answered, “Yes, they understand you.” Then Brother Pete told her, “We serve the Living God and He can take care of him.”
During one of the prayer meetings, Sister Josephine said that if God would bring her son home, she would kiss the ground. Soon after, God gave her a dream where she saw Armand on a farm, but he looked very thin. She asked him, “How are you?” He told her, “OK, Mom, but I am so hungry.” She told him, “I want to get you something to eat,” but the dream ended. When their son, Frank, told his mother he dreamed of Armand and that he was alive, she quickly told him her dream.
In June, they received a telegram saying that Armand was liberated from Germany by Russian troops in April 1945. Brother Armand said that during his imprisonment he prayed constantly to the Lord (“every minute”) never knowing if his life would be taken.
A daily ration was a cup of tea in the morning, which they sometimes used to shave with. At lunch, they got one slice of black potato bread, and at evening, a cup of rutabaga soup, complete with those ever-present worms, possibly the best protein they were getting. At his induction, he weighed 170 pounds, and at liberation, he weighed 90 pounds. He spent his days walking the circumference of the compound praying as he watched the continuous piles of bodies being taken away. Only through the grace of God did he survive.
Armand did not feel good about going with the Russians, who said they would take them to Odessa and then send them back to the U.S. Brother Armand’s group decided to try and escape, which they did, into the woods and to a road where they met an American convoy. A few years ago at a P.O.W. meeting, he found out that many men who went to Russia ended up working in the salt mines, never to be returned home.
June 1, 1945, Brother Armand returned to the United States. One day, while his mother was outside on the porch, she cried, “Here comes Armand.” Mary ran out to see a figure a long way off coming up their street. Sure enough, as the figure got closer, it was Armand. Sister Josephine fell to the ground to kiss it as she had promised God, even before she greeted her son.
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This article has undergone ministry review and approval.