Albert Schweitzer once said, "I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know. The only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."12 Schweitzer was a true citizen of the world. Already known as a brilliant expert in music and theology, he decided to study to become a medical doctor to help people who were suffering. He believed in showing love and compassion toward all living things, which he called reverence for life.'1 When Schweitzer went to school as a boy, he noticed that his family was better off than many of the other families in his village. Over the objections of his parents, the young Schweitzer decided, after his first day of school at age six, that he would not wear his more expensive clothes, but would dress just like his poorer schoolmates. So began a lifelong interest in the feelings and welfare of others. From his hospital in Lambaréné, he inspired people all over the world with his humanity, books, and love.
By the age of 18, Schweitzer had decided to become a professional musician, playing the organ. He received training both in his hometown of Guernsbach (in Alsace, which had just become a part of Germany), and in Paris. His teacher in Paris called him a genius. Shortly after beginning his musical studies in Paris, however, he changed his mind and decided to become a pastor like his father.2 He attended Strasbourg University in France.3 During his first years as a pastor, Schweitzer wrote his first two books -- one on religion and one a biography of Johan Sebastian Bach. The books made Schweitzer world-famous by the time he was thirty-one4 and he was in high demand as a speaker and as an organist throughout Europe.
When he was 28, Schweitzer read a report on the needs of Africans in the Congo (now the Republic of Zaire). Shortly after reading this report, he resigned his position with Strasbourg University, where he was teaching, and left for medical school, deciding that would be the best way for him to devote himself to the direct service of humanity.
After six years of medical school, Schweitzer persuaded the Paris Missionary Society5 to send him to Africa with his new wife, Helen. Helen Bresslau became a nurse so she could work alongside her new husband. They were married in 1912.6 He was sent to Lambaréné on the Ogooue River (now in the country of Gabon) to start a hospital for the native Africans. Schweitzer started his hospital in the only building available: an old chicken house. There he began to treat the sick of central Africa. Within nine months of arriving, Schweitzer had treated over two thousand people. He treated people with leprosy and sleeping sickness the most. He treated these people until a significant event in history struck Schweitzer, his wife and the people of Africa.
World War I broke out within a year and a half of the Schweitzers' arrival in Africa. Germany and France were at war and the Schweitzers were German citizens in...