Interview w/ Pastor Kai Hoess
God works in hearts all around the world, drawing lost souls to a saving knowledge of Himself. Many who receive Christ and study Scripture faithfully sense God’s calling to stand with and bless Israel and the Jewish people. But perhaps the last people you would expect to love the Jewish people would be the descendants of Nazis. Yet, some stories of such obedience to the Lord shine through.
This week, Pastor Kai Hoess from Stuttgart, Germany, shares his remarkable testimony. Kai, the grandson of a Nazi commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, is a Christian friend of Israel with an incredible story to share. As he serves the Lord as a pastor in Germany, he teaches God’s Word in the context of God’s great love for and promises to the Jewish people. Kai’s life is an inspirational journey that will remind you of the great blessings you have as a friend of Israel!
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us for The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is Chris Katulka. We've created a special way to show your support for Israel in your neighborhood during the Hanukkah season. Visit foi.org/shine to learn more. Again, that's foi.org/shine. We'll have more to say about this special event later in the program.
Chris Katulka: This is a great way for you to show support for Israel and the Jewish people during Hanukkah. But I want to share about somebody today who is showing support to Israel and the Jewish people in Germany. It's Pastor Kai Hoess, senior pastor of Bible Church of Stuttgart, Germany. And Pastor Kai has an interesting background. His grandfather was Rudolf Hoess, who was the Commandant of Auschwitz Birkenau, who oversaw the deaths of countless Jewish people. Well, today we're going to hear from Pastor Kai and how Jesus redeems this moment, a horrible pass of persecution and antisemitism against the Jewish people, Pastor Kai's going to share about how he loves and supports the Jewish people just two generations later.
Steve Conover: It's an incredible testimony. We look forward to that. But first in the news, the Jerusalem Post reports the Israel Defense Forces published a Gaza Strip map dividing it into smaller zones for safety alerts. The initiative is to safeguard Palestinian civilians often used as human shields by Hamas enhancing Palestinian non-combatant protection efforts. The new maps enable the IDF to issue more direct instructions to Gaza civilians, including evacuation orders.
Chris Katulka: Well, Steve, here's my take, anti-Israel protestors can be seen screaming about Palestinian genocide as Israel battles Hamas. Yet time and time again, Israel has warned Palestinian civilians to leave the battle zone in the north through phone calls and leaflets. The IDF even ensures safe travel for Palestinians moving south, preventing Hamas from making them return to their homes in the battlefield. Israel is a country that values life. Life, even for those who wish to see them wiped off the map.
Chris Katulka: Pastor Kai, great to have you on the program. Thank you so much for being with us today.
Kai Hoess: Yes, thank you so much for having me, Chris. Thank you.
Chris Katulka: Kai, you have an amazing story as a pastor from Stuttgart, Germany, and in the time we have, I want to cover as much as we possibly can because we're going to be going back in time here. The story actually of your personal testimony, your story actually starts with your grandfather, Rudolf Hoess. Can you share about that, Kai?
Kai Hoess: Yes. Oh, well, Rudolf Hoess. Well, yeah, infamous. My grandfather, obviously, I think as many people understand, know he was the greatest, I think the greatest mass murderer in history. He was instrumental in the murder of millions of Jews and a willing instrument. I still, I'm still, when I think about it, I feel like I want to cry. He made himself available to the Nazis, to Hitler and his demonic regime to do this work, this terrible thing that he, this crime against humanity and all that. And I'm sure personally, being a Christian, I know he was a satanic, absolutely a satanic intervention here in his life. Of course, I don't see spiritual matters, but seeing his life and how he came out of a Roman Catholic background, and he was disgruntled, he volunteered in the Ottoman regiment in the First World War and committed murder and became a soldier.
And later on he committed murder again when he returned to Germany, murdered a local communist leader, a party leader. And if you look at that whole story, you can see this was satanic. Satan is right in there. And I mean, what he did should never be forgotten for me personally. And it should never be allowed to be denied because that's what's going on right now in the world. There's a lot of people, even in Germany right now, who are denying this. And so I'm one of these people. I stand up and very clear, being the grandson of Rudolf Hoess, I make it very clear this is not a lie, and this should never happen again. And we need to be out there, make sure that this is not allowed to fall asleep, and it is. So just thinking about this man, how a political ideology, or even today, you see religious fanaticism can drive individuals and indeed entire nations to the point where the cost justifies the means and this is so terrible and we haven't learned.
Chris Katulka: Kai, can I say, just to give clarity, Rudolf Hoess, your grandfather was the Commandant of Auschwitz, which is a concentration camp and a death camp for the Jewish people during the Holocaust in Birkenau. And that's why I want to go to your father next, because your father was actually born in the concentration camp of Dachau. And you spoke of your father in an article that I read, and you said this about your father. You said that he said, my father, he's speaking about Rudolf. Your dad is speaking about Rudolf, his dad. "My father did terrible things. For me they are horrible. He paid the price for it." How did your grandfather impact the family? I can only imagine being your father, Hans Jurgen. How did he process all that, Kai?
Kai Hoess: Well, the interesting thing here is, and it's shocking in a sense, later on I've thought about it. We never spoke about him. They kept that... My parents were not Nazis or neo-Nazis or they didn't condone what happened in the Second World War in any way, but they never talked about our family's involvement, Rudolf Hoess so I found out about that in history lessons at school when the teacher talked about Auschwitz and the Commandant Rudolf Hoess, and I said, whoa, that's my name. Is it anything to do with us?
Chris Katulka: You're kidding with me. That's how you found out, was in school?
Kai Hoess: Yeah. That's basically how I really became aware of this. And then I asked questions of course, and then at home they kind of said, "Oh yeah, that's right." And then my mom talked about it, but there was no clear, they never went into detail. And I never felt there was any real remorse. They should have been in tears. Even when I think back, history teachers in school, it was a study. It was presented as a lesson. But unless you show you have an emotional... When it registers in your heart what happened, you should be in tears sharing this information with people. And I didn't see that emotional involvement with my parents either so it took me for me to become a Christian later on and really understand what happened and meeting Jewish people and just understanding and it broke my heart basically later on. And then I started looking into it. I wanted to know, never talked about it. No, my dad never really. I think they were ashamed. I don't know.
Chris Katulka: A hundred percent. Yeah, I believe that. And so you learn about this while you're in school, but I'm interested, did that become something for you? I mean, you were only born... I don't mean to date you now, Pastor Kai, but you were born-
Kai Hoess: 52.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, you were born 20 years after the Holocaust, after World War II ends. What were the sentiments in Germany at that time still toward the Jewish people? Were they silent on the issue or were they, as your parents were? And when you did find out, can you develop that a little bit more about that process? I could only imagine that feeling that you had to hear it from somebody else, but could you develop that a little bit more?
Kai Hoess: Well, I think at the time, personally, I wasn't impacted by it because my parents never talked about it. There was no emotional energy flowing across to us kids where my parents were repentant or convicted about what had happened back in the war during the Nazi regime. But I mean, you see today what's going on in Germany, you see that there's a contingent of people in the nation, and you see that in every, I've seen that in Indonesia and the Philippines. When one ruler goes off the scene, there's people that did well under that system, and they will still, perhaps they can't speak loudly about it, but they will still maintain this kind of condoning it and praising it in some way and saying it wasn't all that bad. And I heard that.
I heard that many times. But of course that not in my own family, my father is not a Nazi at all, but I think German society as a whole, I mean, just from my perspective it's really, I think there were still a lot of people that felt they were treated unfairly and all this. You know how it is. And that whole thing was exaggerated, and Germany was condemned for it, and they lost the war. Their pride was... I think there's a lot of things that play together in getting people to, not to repent, not to accept the facts, but it didn't really, no, it did not affect me at all in a sense of taking sides. It was not meaningful to me at all. It was not something that I really paid... I wasn't interested in it. Not really. I was interested in my career and kind of moving forward, my studies, my training and all that stuff.
Chris Katulka: Well, listen, when we come back in a moment here, we're going to continue our conversation with Pastor Kai. This is just an amazing conversation because if we just dwell on the past, we're only going to think about the past. But the amazing thing about the Lord Jesus is that he's going to redeem this and he's going to redeem it because Pastor Kai's story doesn't end with his grandfather and turning a blind eye to what happened even. In fact, he's come to embrace it and he's come to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and that redeems everything. So when we come back in a moment, we're going to ask Pastor Kai about his testimony and what it's like being a pastor, especially one in Germany who loves and supports Israel and the Jewish people. So you'll want to stick around.
Steve Conover: In light of the recent violent attacks against Israel and increasing antisemitism across the United States, The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry is calling on Christians nationwide to show their support for Israel and the Jewish people.
Chris Katulka: Steve, last week we mentioned that the Friends of Israel is requesting that Christians light a candle in their window at sundown on the first night of Hanukkah, December 7th, and to keep it lit through sundown December 15th to honor the Jewish community and to stand in solidarity with Israel during this time of crisis. As we're in the Hanukkah season right now, there is still time for you to light a candle to place in your window.
Steve Conover: A lit candle in every Christian home across America now through December 15th will send an unmistakable message of hope and support to Israel during these difficult times.
Chris Katulka: Now you can download printable signs to affix right next to the candle, and you can download those right at foi.org/shine. We hope that you'll join us and light a candle in your front window at sundown through the end of Hanukkah to show solidarity with Israel.
Steve Conover: To learn more you can visit foi.org/shine. Text us a photo of your candle shining your support for the Jewish community. Send your photo to 805-779-1938. Again, that's 805-779-1938.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back, everybody. We are speaking to Pastor Kai Hoess. He is calling in from Germany. Pastor Kai, I know it's later where you are. Thank you so much for being a part of what's going on and staying up late to be on the radio program.
Kai Hoess: Yes, thank you so much. Yes, I'm blessed to be with you. Yes.
Chris Katulka: Kai, can you just tell us, we were talking about your past with your grandfather, with your father, their connection or your grandfather's connection to the Nazi party and the atrocities that you said that he committed. But can you share your testimony and how you came to know the Lord?
Kai Hoess: Well, my past, I grew up in a…basically my dad was anti-religious in every way. He looked down on the church and all kinds of religions. He didn't care. My mom was a materialist. She didn't really care either. It was traditional ritualistic German Protestant religion. So I didn't grow up in a Christian home, but as I studied, I trained, spent some years in the military and then I had my first, I trained in different, I was in hotel management for many years. I did the training at the Savoy Hotel in London and went on with Sheraton, Westin and all different, Shangri-La, different groups all around the world. And I was a very... How can I say that? The cost justify the means kind of manager.
I used to say I worked hard and I play hard. And then I got very sick in Singapore back in 1989, I got really sick and to the point where I almost died, it was close. I was in intensive care, and I just couldn't sleep. So much pain. I was on morphine, and I was trying to find something to read in this hospital room, and I opened a drawer, the bedside cabinet drawer, and I found a Gideon Bible. And that's just Psalms and Songs of Solomon, Proverbs, and then the New Testament. I didn't get the whole Old Testament, but I read that Bible. And my first thought was, you're not going to read that... And I don't want to use the word that I actually used in my head at the time. You're not going to read that stuff. And I thought, well, you know what? Read it.
At least you can say you read the Bible. So I read that Bible, that Gideon Bible in my time in the hospital from beginning to end. And I remember thinking, wow, there's stuff in there that absolutely, I did not align up with it in any way with my life, but I could not dispute the fact that it was moral. It was morally upright, and it was really a wonderful thing for me to read because I just saw the truth and I couldn't deny it. And so I was out of hospital back to my life, management, being a young 28 executive assistant director in a big five star hotel, and very arrogant, very prideful in every way and so one night I was at a nightclub. I used to spend a lot of time in clubs, work hard, play hard, and I was at this club and a man walks up to me and starts talking, starts a conversation, and we had a wonderful talk.
I mean, just a really nice conversation. We parted, we exchanged business cards. Well two weeks later this man turns up at the hotel at my workplace, asked reception whether I was on duty. And so I saw, I mean, I didn't know who he was. I had forgotten about him already. So I invited him for coffee in the lobby, and he tells me, he sits down within five minutes. This man tells me that that night he was in the club with a brother, and I heard the word “brother”, with a brother from church. And I said, oh, no. And he was in this nightclub in outreach of their church to go to the nightclubs and talk to people like me. And he said, but I wasn't that clear anymore. So he said he didn't say anything about Jesus. And so I looked at this guy and I thought, oh man, this guy landed.
He's from a different planet. He's an alien, I thought. So I looked at my watch and I said, you know something, I got to leave. I have a meeting. Thanks so much for coming to see me. Well, he came back with his fiance to our different restaurants, and every time he came to the hotel, he'd call me up and I sat with them because of course I had to, this is a customer, so I got to sit down with him. If he wants me to have a coffee with him that's in a five star hotel, you got to do that. And I know he knew that so here we are. We're talking. This went on for a year until finally they invited me to church. So I thought, okay, here we go. So I'll come. So I went to that church and I met another 150, 200 people that were nice and friendly and just sweet. And so it developed from there. I stopped going out Saturday nights because I enjoyed that time on Sunday mornings and that church so much.
I wanted to meet those people and they were so friendly. They gave me a Bible. They started teaching me some things, and when I was sick, they were there, when I had... I realized this was the real deal. And so I mean, it is a much longer story, but I know we don't have that much time, but I'm just saying by Easter '89, I just believed. I just believed the Bible, believed Jesus was real. I believed he died on the cross for our sins, and I just wanted to have salvation in Christ by grace and faith in him alone. And that's it. And of course then it started the whole, you know how it is. And once you get saved, you've got to turn out a U-turn. That's like a U-turn, and you have to unlearn so much stuff. You got to start to grow, and the sanctification process kicks off and you're alive and you're walking with Christ, and that's it. You carry your cross. So yeah, that's basically how I got saved.
Chris Katulka: And you became a pastor, and not only a pastor, but even thinking of your past, your family past, you've become a pastor that teaches what the Bible says about Israel and the Jewish people, that God still values Israel and the Jewish people. How has that affected you as a pastor? How has that affected you as a Christian when you're reading through this and you're seeing it in the Scriptures?
Kai Hoess: I see God's unconditional promises to Israel. They cannot be denied. And I look at Genesis 30 and 40 and 50, God told Abraham, "Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you know I will land, but you see, I will give you and your descendants," and here he says, "Forever. Forever." And God doesn't joke around. He doesn't say something and then kind of turns around. This is the same with our salvation. The salvation of Israel is guaranteed like our salvation is guaranteed. It's amazing when you think about it.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, I always like to say Romans 8 is our security. And then of course, right at Romans 8, Paul converts into Romans 9-11 where I think he's speaking of his faithfulness to his people even who were disobedient.
Kai Hoess: Absolutely, yes. When you understand that you see how God is faithful and how even Israel is a wonderful picture, almost like a picture of our Christian life. This is multidimensional Word of God and how it all lines up and connects and interweaves over thousands of years. For me personally, it was just... I studied the seed and that was one of the things that really convicted me to the seed of Christ from Genesis. And he goes here telling Eve about the seed of Christ that would crush Satan's head. And then he takes that seed, you study, you follow that seed, that red line all the way through to Revelation 22 at the end of the book, and it's never interrupted. It's so cool. There's so much proof. And that's what I teach. We're dispensational Bible believing church so we live in the dispensation of grace now, but you can connect all those different households-
Chris Katulka: 100%.
Kai Hoess: ... and you see how God moved all the way through and it's just perfect.
Chris Katulka: Pastor Kai, I want to end on this. Could you give our listeners an update? I hear a lot of people saying what they feel is going on in the world today when it comes to antisemitism against Israel and the Jewish people, that there's this feeling of 1933 or even 1938 all over again. Are you getting that sense at all as you look at what's going on in the world and the antisemitism that's on the rise?
Kai Hoess: Yes, I get that too. Yes. I get the same feeling right now. And I guess that's what we see prophecy. You'll see there'll be the rapture of the church. And then it's going to be the great, the tribulation. Three and a half, three and a half, and it's going to roll and eventually... But we know how it's going to play out. But yeah, I feel it. I see it. I see it here in this country, and I see how, I know how Islam is, how it's kind of almost pushing in that direction too when you see people here in our country, how many people are ignorant? They don't know.
They don't know the Bible. They don't understand anything. They just go by what Satan whispers into their ears. And so that's a huge thing. But we know how it's going to go so we can continue to pray for God to bring in a harvest. And when I see that souls are being saved in Israel like never before, there's so many people, I'm talking to Menno, he said so many people are getting saved. People coming to know Christ as their savior. That's it. That's the ticket. And we need to be busy in sharing the gospel. We need to be out there and sharing Jesus Christ with people.
Chris Katulka: Pastor Kai, I want to thank you so much for being a part of the Friends of Israel Today radio program. Your testimony is an amazing testimony of how God can redeem even the most evil things. To think of what your grandfather had done in the past, but Jesus redeemed it, and here you are today, having a conversation for people to hear that you love Israel and the Jewish people because Jesus was Jewish, because the scriptures teach about the importance of Israel and the Jewish people. What an amazing testimony. Thank you so much for being with us.
Kai Hoess: In his seed shall all the nations of the world be blessed and I'm part of that promise. This is incredible.
Chris Katulka: It's incredible. Thank you so much for being with us Pastor Kai.
Kai Hoess: Yeah, thank you Chris.
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us for today's episode of The Friends of Israel Today. What an incredible testimony. So great to hear from Pastor Kai Hoess, and a reminder to visit foi.org/shine. Visit us today to show your support to Israel in your neighborhood.
Chris Katulka: Steve, whenever I watch the news, I always see Tunnels to Tower, which are helping wounded veterans, or I see Wounded Warrior Project. These are programs that are helping American soldiers who have been wounded in battle. Well, who's helping Israel's wounded soldiers? Well, next week we're going to have Idan Kliman on. He is the chairman of the Friends of Israel Disabled Veterans, and they do an amazing work helping the wounded who have served in the IDF.
Steve Conover: It's going to be a fascinating interview. We hope you join us then. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
Shine Your Light For Israel
December 7-15, 2023
We've created a special way for you to show your support for Israel in your neighborhood during the Hanukkah season.
Visit foi.org/shine to learn more.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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