By Rajmund Dabrowski

A few years ago, I listened to parents of school kids at Sligo Adventist School in Takoma Park, MD, talk about how much their children’s lives were impacted by caring teachers who demonstrated Christian values in the way they interacted with the kids. This conversation made me reflect on a few individuals who have taken Jesus’ command to “suffer the little children” seriously.

One such example is Dr. Janusz Korczak, a pedagogue and guardian of homeless, neglected, and often abandoned children during World War II in Poland. Korczak refused to leave the Warsaw Ghetto because of these “adopted” children and met his fate in the gas chambers of Treblinka. His forte was “ethical sensitivity” in education—a belief that one should place the emotional development of a child on the same level as his or her physical development.

A journal entry on sparrows gives some insight into his approach: “During the summer, the windows were usually open and they would come into the room and sit on a flowerpot. If I was also sitting still, they were not afraid. But once, when I entered the room unexpectedly, a sparrow flew away and being scared off, it could not find a way out and hit the window glass. It was stunned. Maybe hurt, even. After that, before I entered my room, I would knock on the door.”

“But now, it’s wintertime and I have once again asked the glass-fitter to come and cut out a small [corner] piece of the window, so that sparrows can come in and eat. It’s warmer for them inside.”

When Korczak received psychologically crippled children into his homes for orphans, he treated them as he would the sparrows—aiming to make them feel secure.

Irena Sendler, a “saint” to many and a hero to others, is yet another example of one who “suffered” the little children. A nurse and social worker, Sendler organized the rescue of 2,500 kids from the Warsaw Ghetto during the Nazi occupation of the city. She took great risks to help Polish Jews held by the Nazis—an act that was punishable by death. Once, she was arrested and tortured by the Gestapo but refused to give up the names of the children who had been smuggled out of the ghetto by ambulance, through the sewers, and, once, under her skirt. She declared, “Saving even a single life was worth taking a risk. We are responsible for every life that comes across our lives.”

These days, like in the days of Jesus, His followers should ask themselves how to actively embrace the example of Jesus. His attitude toward the vulnerable was the opposite of that displayed by His disciples. His rebuke, and an example for His followers, is recorded in Matthew 19:13-14: “One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could lay His hands on them and pray for them. The disciples scolded the parents for bothering Him. But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.’”

Life offers us reminders. How would we act if such reminders propelled us into helping someone by being present in their lives? It could be enough at times to just keep them company and cast away the fear.

–Rajmund Dabrowski is RMC communication director and editor of Mountain Views. Email him at: [email protected]