Presbyterians Today

NOV-DEC 2018

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Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018 37 person who became a pastor," Ralph said when speaking of adventures others would marvel at. However, he added that "God touched me, tutored me and opened doors for me and others to do things that were absolutely impossible in communist nations during the Cold War." God continued to touch Ralph's life, providing a home where his wife could get the care she needed toward the end of her life. "It is wonderful that the church does not forget those who worked in Presbyterian ministries at home and abroad," he said. Gifts keep blessings flowing Half of the gifts given to the Christmas Joy Offering go to the Board of Pensions' Assistance Program, which helps past and current church leaders and their families who are in critical finan- cial need. The other half goes to prepare future church and commu- nity leaders who study at historic Presbyterian-related schools and colleges that equip communities of color. Joshua Karangwa, a 2018 graduate of Presbyterian Pan American School, dreams of helping communities in his native Rwanda T he love story between Ralph and Mary Hamburger began at a Presbyterian church when Ralph introduced himself to Mary after hearing her play the piano. Their time together on earth ended at a Presbyterian retirement community late last summer after 65 years of marriage. Ralph and Mary could live in dignity during their final years of marriage because of gifts to the Christmas Joy Offering. Ralph, a minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) since 1960, died this year on Sept. 2, after spending the last few years tending to Mary. Ralph shared their story not long before his health began its quick decline. He was eager to thank Presbyterians for the gifts that helped sustain them in the twilight of their marriage. The couple spent several good years together in the independent living facilities of Monte Vista Groves Home, a senior community offering multiple levels of care in Pasadena, California. However, Mary's dete- riorating health demanded that she move to the skilled nursing unit. Four years of paying for this level of care nearly depleted the couple's savings, and Ralph worried about what would happen next. Thanks to Christmas Joy Offering gifts, Ralph and Mary could continue living at Monte Vista Grove. Ralph said he felt "the arms of the church around us making our lives more comfortable at the end." Gifts help 'write' love story The Hamburgers' story is the saga of two people from diverse backgrounds who were bound together by love for one another and a common devotion to their Christian faith. Ralph, a member of the Dutch resistance during World War II, spent the war years hiding Jews from the Nazi occupiers. At the war's end, he came to the United States carrying a permanent entry visa in the pocket of a suit that he had received in a care package from the U.S. Ralph made his home in California where his U.S. sponsors lived. He soon found his way to Hollywood Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles. Mary, a native of Kentucky's Appalachian region, was part of the large post-war migration to California, where her brother had lived while serving in the Navy. She graduated from college on the West Coast and started a career as an accountant. She, too, found her way to Hollywood Presbyterian, and found her way into the arms of Ralph. After their marriage, Ralph com- pleted seminary and served congre- gations on the East Coast and West Coast. The couple eventually moved to Europe, where Ralph took a call in what was then West Germany. Ralph's service took him behind the Iron Curtain among Christians who were seeking to live faithfully under authoritarian regimes. He encouraged church leaders, arranged continuing education for pastors, and facilitated the printing of Bibles and Christian literature. Mary supported Ralph in his itinerant ministry, managed their home and cared for their daughter, Rachel, who is now a PC(USA) pastor. "I am just an average, ordinary C+ COURTESY OF THE PRESBYTERIAN MISSION AGENCY Gifts to the Christmas Joy Offering made it possible for a family in Puerto Rico recovering from Hurricane Maria to receive new mattresses.

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