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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

August 9, 2019

Can you make a difference?

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

During the Second World War the situation was hopeless for many in the Third Reich. Those who rebelled against the Nazi party were mercilessly punished. But there was one man who got away with it. His name was Albert. He lived in Austria.

One time there were some SS Officers that made a group of Jewish women scrub a street on their hands and knees. Albert reportedly got down on his hands and knees and scrubbed with the women and in short order the guards stopped the women. Albert despised Nazism and did what he could to protest or thwart its policies and actions.

Albert was in a position to hire Jewish prisoners to work in a factory he oversaw, and oftentimes he would simply release them once they were far enough away from the prison camp, or he would forge his brother’s signature so they could immigrate to another country. Albert would encourage acts of sabotage and even worked with the Czech resistance against the Nazi’s. Can one man make a difference?

Once upon a time, there was a man who used to go to the beach for inspiration for his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked further down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to begin the day, so he walked faster to catch up. As he got closer, he noticed that it was a young man and he wasn’t dancing at all. The young man was picking up small objects out of the sand and throwing them into the ocean. He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?" The young man paused, looked up and replied, "Throwing starfish into the ocean." "I must ask then, why are you throwing starfish in to the ocean?" asked the surprised observer. To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die." Upon hearing this, the man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles and miles of beach and there starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!" At this the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it splashed into the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."

What if we focused on the difference we can make for that "one"? What if there is a condition, a situation, a person that resonates with us on a more personal level and we pray more earnestly for that one? What if instead of trying to serve everyone, we serve a smaller number with true service and in a way that genuinely makes a difference in each person’s life?

Albert was able to get away with the many things he did to frustrate the Nazis because his last name was Goring. He was Hermann Goring's brother. Albert turned his back on the life he could have had — a life of privilege and power, and a life of influence. Albert was arrested after the war with many Nazi officials and put on trial for war crimes in Nuremberg. Albert claimed innocence of any Nazi actions, but the Allied officials refused to believe him at first. However, thanks to Nazi record keeping, Albert was mentioned often as a problem. Albert was also able to list quite a few names of the many Jews he helped escape along the course of the war. Albert was eventually released.

Albert lived an uneventful life after the war — his last name made it hard to have any other kind of life. It wasn't until after his death in 1966 that his story began to be known. One person can make a difference and we have many examples in Scripture — Josiah, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Enoch, Abigail, Mary, and certainly Jesus Christ!

What difference can you make for just one person?

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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