Written by Gregory Bartha
In an earlier blog I mentioned that Albert Schweitzer was the inspiration for my work in Africa. He was born in 1875 near the border between France and Germany. There is a story that one day a boyhood friend invited him to go with him to shoot birds with a slingshot. Albert had to leave because he could not stand killing another living creature. He attended village schools and made a decision in late adolescence to someday go to Africa as a doctor to help the people there. He went on to university and studied in both Paris and Berlin. He wrote a series of books on the life of Jesus which gave him a worldwide reputation in theological studies. He was also a gifted organist and wrote a definitive work on the life and music of Bach.
At the age of 30 he resigned his university posts and became a humble medical student to qualify himself as a doctor in Africa. His wife was also a distinguished scholar, but she left her position to become a nurse to share in Albert’s work. They traveled to the West African nation of Gambia in 1913. With native help he built his hospital with his bare hands. He did surgery and treated leprosy, sleeping sickness, and malaria. His work was interrupted for several years by World War 1. During this period he continued to write – mainly books on ethics and the life of the Apostle Paul. His thesis was that reverence for life was the true basis for a civilized world.
He financed much of his work by giving organ concerts and lectures in Europe. Many young physicians came to work as volunteers in his hospital. In the 1950’s he was a spokesman against nuclear proliferation. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952. He died in 1965.
He possessed relentless energy and creativity. His life was one of genius, humility, and Christian discipleship, a life which has certainly inspired me and will continue to inspire and motivate many others for years to come.
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