Open Book
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save yourself?

When in 1999 Dr Anne Spoerry died, she was known throughout east Africa as “Mama Daktari.” From 1950 until her death “Mother Doctor” provided health care for perhaps 1million of Kenya’s poorest inhabitants, piloting her own plane to remote villages, providing treatment, surgeries and vaccinations. Dr Spoerry was the first female member of the Flying Doctors service, a non-governmental organization now known as Amref Health Africa.
Born in France into a well-to-do Swiss family, Anne Spoerry grew up on idyllic family estates before going to an elite English boarding school. At the close of the 1930s, she and her brother moved to Paris, he to study architecture and she medicine. Then, in June 1940, Nazi Germany conquered France.

In 1942 Anne Spoerry joined her brother in the
French Resistance. For more than four months she managed safe houses for British operatives, delivered messages between resistance fighters, and even housed a British spy and his short-wave radio in her own apartment. When the Gestapo arrested members of her cell, Spoerry scrambled to facilitate the escape for her British charges. They got away but she was caught and transported to Ravensbrück.

Although Spoerry had not completed medical school, her knowledge and willingness landed her as the physician’s assistant—and possibly lesbian lover—to the infirmary’s vicious leader, Carmen Mory. And it meant Spoerry escaped the gas chamber, eventually gaining a position of influence in the concentration camp.

After WW2 Anne Spoerry spent decades doing sacrificial, humanitarian work in Africa. The fact that she preserved the evidence documenting her Nazi collaboration reflects a determination to redeem herself. Dr Spoerry’s refusal to retire, despite failing health, may tell us that she was driven to do enough good to shift her final judgment.

Dr Spoerry’s life provokes deep questions about the human capacity for evil and compassion, and about rehabilitation and redemption and salvation. According to the Bible even decades of good works are not enough to save yourself. And should you calculate that your own sins are not as terrible as Anne Spoerry’s collaboration, remember that all your good works pale in comparison to her’s.

The Bible claims that every one of us needs a Savior. The condition of our world reflects this need is desperate. The Bible proclaims Jesus is the great Savior! Great enough to forgive a slave-trader like
John Newton or a Nazi collaborator like Anne Spoerry. ~

Dan Nygaard