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How People You Don't Know Change Your World


Max Glauben was liberated from the Holocaust on April 23, 1945. His parents and brother were murdered by the Nazis.

He came to the US as an orphan, served in the US Army, met his wife Frieda, and started a family that now includes three children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He helped launch the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. Since 2005, he has returned to concentration camp sites fourteen times, leading March of the Living trips.

Each time, he goes to a mausoleum that holds seven tons of human ashes and recites a prayer for the dead. “I look at the ashes, the seven tons of ashes, and I wonder how many of the owners of these ashes, how many diseases they could’ve cured,” he says.

Mr. Glauben intended to spend the seventy-fifth anniversary of his liberation back overseas on his fifteenth March of the Living trip. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the trip was canceled.

Last Thursday, he expected to spend the day at home with family but went outside to find an amazing surprise: a drive-by procession was held to celebrate him and his story of survival.

When asked how to move forward when you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, Mr. Glauben said, “Never, never, never, never give up. Enjoy life and try to treat everybody that you are surrounded with the way you’d like to be treated.”

A vaccine by October?

You may not have heard of Max Glauben before today. However, every person he teaches about the atrocities of the Holocaust who then works to confront anti-Semitism will benefit the world as a result of his efforts.

In other news, a vaccine developed by Oxford University will begin testing on more than six thousand people by the end of next month. If it is shown to be safe and effective, the first few million doses could be available by September.

Another promising vaccine for COVID-19 has entered clinical trials in China for testing in humans. It showed promising results during animal trials.

I should add that many scientists think such a vaccine is twelve to eighteen months away. Nonetheless, let’s assume for the moment that one of these vaccines proves effective against coronavirus. The world will owe an enormous debt of gratitude to men and women whose names we do not know today.

Saving the most prolific author in the New Testament

You have heard of Paul and his voyage to Rome, but have you heard of the man who got him there safely?

Luke reports: “When it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius” (Acts 27:1). A Roman centurion was an officer in charge of eighty soldiers. The Augustan Cohort was a unit of the Roman army stationed in the area of Palestine from around AD 6. The fact that it was named for the emperor indicates its special status and that of Julius as well.

This man “treated Paul kindly” along the journey (v. 3). Then, when their ship began to break up and the soldiers planned to kill the prisoners, “the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan” (v. 43). As a result, Paul spent two years in Rome “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (Acts 28:31). He also wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon during this time.

Luke also traveled with Paul on this journey (note the “we” of his narrative) and would stay with Paul in Rome (Colossians 4:14). By saving his life, Julius made possible the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts.

(By the way, Luke and Acts comprise more words than Paul’s thirteen letters, making Luke the most prolific author in the New Testament.)

The woman who led me to Christ

Mrs. Sharon Sewell, my tenth-grade Sunday school teacher, led me to faith in Christ. You may never have heard of her, but every word I write is an extension of her ministry.

I have no idea who led her to Christ, but that person’s ministry continues through her and now through me. If you influence anyone for the Lord because of what I have written, that person’s ministry continues through you as well.

This is one reason our Lord measures success by faithfulness rather than popularity. The latter may come and go, but the former is eternal. If you will “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7), God will make your obedience significant in ways you cannot imagine today.

So, let’s close with two questions:

Who is your centurion?

Whom will you serve as theirs today?

Publication date: April 28, 2020

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Pixelheadphoto

Jim Denison, PhD, is a cultural theologian and the founder and CEO of Denison Ministries. Denison Ministries includes,,, and Jim speaks biblically into significant cultural issues at Denison Forum. He is the chief author of The Daily Article and has written more than 30 books, including The Coming Tsunamithe Biblical Insight to Tough Questions series, and The Fifth Great Awakening.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

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