Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 1:31 PM


Life is filled with defining moments. Moments that define who you are and what you really believe in. Moments that call into action what you really believe and stretch you beyond your comfort zone. Irena Sendlerowa faced her moments with courage and strength and because of that future generations were effected.

Irena Sendlerowa grew up in the town of Otwock Poland early in the last century. Her defining moments came during WWII during a great crisis in her homeland. During WWII in Poland she became a member of Zegota. This was a Polish underground group that was formed to assist the Jewish people who were being persecuted by the German occupation. She was a social worker and gained access into the Jewish ghettos by working with the Contagious Disease Department during an outbreak of Typhoid.

She was in charge of the children’s division, her job and the job of those she worked with; rescue children and that she did. Her and her coworkers rescued 2500 children from certain death at the hand of the Nazi’s.

She used many different means of rescuing the children. They would use an ambulance to take a child out on a stretcher; they would escape through the sewers of the city or other underground passages. For some children they would hide them in sacks, in trunks or suitcases.

Imagine if you can watching your child being packed into a suitcase not knowing if they would make it out or if even if you would see them again if they did. Imagine the courage it took to risk your own life for the lives of people you did not know.

Ireana wrote the names down of the children she saved on thin tissue paper and placed them in two bottles. She dug a hole under an apple tree and placed the bottles in it to keep it from the Gestapo. As each new child would be saved she would dig it up and add the name to the list. The thought was that as soon as the war was over they would be returned to their family. Unfortunately almost all of the children’s parents who lived never made it our of the Treblinka death camp.

Irena was eventually captured, tortured and was sentenced to death. She had her arms and feet broken but was saved from death when Zegota bribed the executioner. After that she lived in hiding until the end of the war. Ireana lived to be 98 years old until her death in Warsaw last week. Just one year after being nominated for a 2007 Nobel Peace Price.

Never heard of Irena Sendlerowa? Neither had I until last week. A heroic life lived under the radar of the world in which we live but a better world because she lived in it. I found these quotes about Irena from those she helped rescue.

Michael Glowinski who became a literature professor and was one who was rescued by Irena said this, “I think about her the way you think of someone you owe your life to.”

In the face of today’s indifference the example of Irena Sendlerowa is very important.” Elzbieta Ficowska said who was smuggled out the ghetto by Mrs. Sendlerowa in a toolbox on a lorry when she was just five months old.

Why is the world a better place because she lived in it? Because she applied some very practical biblical principals to her live and she put them into action.

  1. She considered others more important than herself.
  2. She took action as opposed to watching injustice be done.
  3. She did not consider who it was she was saving; religion and ethnic background did not come into play.

Here is a wonderful quote that tells her mindset on that last point,“ I was brought up to believe that a person must be rescued when drowning, regardless of religion and nationality.”

We live in a world of drowning people yearning to be saved. Those of us who believe in Christ and call Him our Savior are called to action. I wonder if too many times the only Christ we know is the one that we see in a church when the world is in great need of people to be Christ hands and feet outside the walls.

We will probably never be put in a situation as dangerous as Irena was put in but we are still called to live out our Christian values in such a way as to make a difference in the world in which we live.

As I think of that I think of the quote earlier in this devotional, the one where the rescued said he thought of Irena as someone who saved his very life. When we remember He who saved our lives from eternity lost I believe it motivates us to living our lives more for Him and less for ourselves.

Remember we are the rescued, there are still more drowning in the sea of life. Let us throw out the lifeline.

Scripture: Philippians 2:3, “When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves.” New Century Version

Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” NIV

Prayer: Dear Lord, we ask that you help to build us up to the people you would have us to be. Help us to stand strong in our defining moments. Guide us to look out for the hurting for the sensitive and for those who the world or those in authority have forgotten. Guide us to be your hands and feet. We ask these things in the name of Christ, Amen.

all simple/truths are written by richard harris

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