Three Sisters Who Fought the Nazis: How Compassion Changes Those Who Change the World

Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture | Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Three Sisters Who Fought the Nazis: How Compassion Changes Those Who Change the World

Three Sisters Who Fought the Nazis: How Compassion Changes Those Who Change the World


There is something in us that wants to help people who need help. 

Time tells the remarkable and sometimes gruesome story of three sisters who fought the Nazis as part of the Dutch resistance in World War II. One explained why she became involved in the conflict: “While I was biking, I saw Germans picking up innocent people from the streets, putting them against a wall and shooting them. I was forced to watch, which aroused such an enormous anger in me, such a disgust. . . . 

“You can have any political conviction or be totally against war, but at that moment you are just a human being confronted with something very cruel. Shooting innocent people is murder. If you experience something like this, you’ll find it justified to act against it.”

Two sisters help Iranian immigrant 

Hassan Nezhadessivandi has spent the last five years distributing Express, a publication of the Washington Post. Mr. Nezhadessivandi immigrated from Iran in 1978 to go to college, but unrest in his homeland cut off his funds. He has been working odd jobs for many years to support himself. 

He stood at the same spot in Washington, DC, for four hours every morning, passing out the newspaper to the commuters who passed by. He did his job in the snow, rain, or heat. 

When the Post announced last Wednesday that the last copy of Express would be distributed the next day, many of the commuters realized they would no longer see Hassan. At the age of sixty-five, he was not sure how he would make ends meet. 

Then, two sisters started a GoFundMe account for him. They spread the word by placing a poster board at the station, printing fliers, and sharing the link on social media. The fund has raised nearly fifteen thousand dollars so far. 

“I have already been given a taste of God” 

Part of being made in our Father’s image is sharing his heart for his children. This impulse to make the world better shows that we intuitively believe in a better world. 

Henri Nouwen: 

I know that the fact that I am always searching for God, always struggling to discover the fullness of Love, always yearning for the complete truth, tells me that I have already been given a taste of God, of Love, and of Truth. I can only look for something that I have, to some degree, already found. How can I search for beauty and truth unless that beauty and truth are already known to me in the depth of my heart? 

It seems that all of us human beings have deep memories of the paradise that we have lost. Maybe the word innocence is better than the word paradise. We were innocent before we started feeling guilty; we were in the light before we entered into the darkness; we were at home before we started to search for a home. 

Deep in the recesses of our minds and hearts there lies hidden the treasure we seek. We know its preciousness, and we know that it holds the gift we most desire: a life stronger than death.

As we work, God works 

The fact that we were made for a better world, however, does not exempt us from seeking to better this world. 

Darian Thompson started at safety for the Dallas Cowboys in their 31–6 win over Miami last Sunday. After overcoming numerous injuries and setbacks, he is following his dream in the NFL. 

He told a reporter, “I’m thankful for God allowing me to do this. But also, it’s a testament to me and my work and the time I’ve put in.”

Noah built the ark, and God closed the door (Genesis 7:16). Moses held his staff over the Red Sea, and God parted the water (Exodus 14:21). Joshua led the people to step into the flooded Jordan River, and God stopped the water (Joshua 3:14-17). Peter preached at Pentecost, and the Spirit led three thousand souls to Christ (Acts 2:41). 

As we work, God works. As we give our Father our best, we position ourselves to experience his best. 

A man spent a year turning an overgrown, weed-infested field into a beautiful garden. When he showed it to his pastor, the pastor exclaimed, “What a beautiful creation of God.” 

The man replied, “You should have seen it when God had it all to himself.” 

“You will set the world on fire” 

Denison Forum seeks to build a movement of culture-changing Christians because we are convinced that such a movement is the greatest need of our day. God has entrusted to each of us a Hassan Nezhadessivandi or a weed-infested field—ways we can use our gifts and influence to help someone follow Jesus. 

Helping hurting people has been at the heart of the Christian mission from its beginning until today (cf. Acts 2:45). Our most powerful witness to a skeptical culture is our compassion for those in need. 

Such compassion is not only our gift in God’s name—it is also God’s gift to us. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” 

St. Catherine of Siena went further: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” 

What part of the world will you set on fire today?

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Publication Date: September 25, 2019

Photo Courtesy: Dutch Ministry of Defense/Wikimedia Commons