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Selfless act leads to sainthood

The Nazi death camp, Auschwitz, was well known for its violent abuse of its inmates during World War II. Among its gruesome acts was the rule that 10 inmates would be executed, by starvation, for every one person that escaped.

This rule was being enforced one day, as the guards randomly selected ten men to die. Among the chosen was a family man named Francis Gajowniczek. Hearing he had been picked, he began crying out for mercy, pleading to be spared for his family's sake.

Standing among the unchosen inmates was Father Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic priest. Hearing the man's laments, he stepped forward, requesting to take Gajowniczek's place. His request was approved. Gajowniczek was reprieved, and Father Kolbe was lead off with the other nine men to die.

Few would have known about Father Kolbe's sacrifice had it not been for Gajowniczek. Surviving the camp, he spent the rest of his life telling others of this selfless act. The account became widely known, resulting in Kolbe's canonization as a saint in 1982.

It might be hard for us to imagine what it was like for Father Kolbe to give up his life for a fellow prisoner, but all Christians can relate to Gajowniczek's experience. Like him, we know the unbelievable relief that another person, Jesus Christ, willfully died in our place. Knowing this, like Gajowniczek, we should dedicate our lives to share our unbelievable good fortune with others so that they too can experience the same joy of redemption.

Pastor Mark Holmes is an ordained minister in the Wesleyan Church and has served the Darrow Road Wesleyan Church since 1997.