Mission Driven Stories: Jacques Lusseyran

“That is what you had to do to live in the camp: be engaged, not live for yourself alone. The self-centered life has no place in the world of the deported. You must go beyond it. Lay hold on something outside yourself.”~Jacques Lusseyran

Born to loving, devoted, faithful parents, Jacques Lusseyran had a very happy childhood. Even the accident that stole his sight at age 7 couldn’t dampen the joy and wonder he experienced as a boy. A loyal friend, a serious scholar, a faithful Christian, Jacques loved every element of life…until the occupation of France by the Nazis. Dedicated to truth and freedom, Jacques determined to do something about it. 

Join Audrey this week as she tells the inspiring and miraculous story of Jacques Lusseyran, blind resistance hero of WWII who risked everything for what he knew to be right. 

Listener’s Guide:

Use the time stamps below to skip to any part of the podcast. 

3:34        Introduction to Jacques Lusseyran
5:10        My Parents
7:02        Blindness

9:10        Experiencing Light
12:00     Fear Made Me Blind
14:19      Discerning Character through Voices
16:06      Friendship   
17:03      Education
19:15       Independence, War, Speaking Out
23:00     Looking For Answers
27:37      An Incredible Teacher
29:36     Illness, Spiritual Experience, Resolve, the Responsible Ones

36:00     Recruiting  
39:00     Elio, Betrayal, Democracy and Christian Morality       
49:40     Robert and Clinging to Christ
52:38     Letting Fear Go and Living On Hope

Quotes from this episode:

My parents spoke to me about God, but only later. I had no name for Him. He was just there and it was better so. Behind my parents there was Someone, and my father and mother were simply the people responsible for passing along the gift. My religion began like this, which I think explains why I have never known doubt.” ~Jacques Lusseyran

“What the loss of my eyes had not accomplished was brought about by fear. It made me blind. Anger and impatience had the same effect, throwing everything into confusion. The minute before I knew just where everything in the room was, but if I got angry, things got angrier than I. They went and hid in the most unlikely corners, mixed themselves up, turned turtle, muttered like crazy men, and looked wild. As for me, I no longer knew where to put hand or foot. Everything hurt me. This mechanism worked so well that I became cautious.” ~Jacques Lusseyran

“For our part, we wanted to learn how to live, and that was a much more serious matter….Unless we were up to making a better life than the life of our elders, the orgy of stupidity and killing would go on till the end of the world. Let people be silent if they were able to go on living without speaking out. We were incapable of it. As for that fear of theirs, it was indecent and made us feel sick. We had no forbearance toward the philosophers, our teachers, or our families. It was better so since we needed our strength to prepare ourselves. Students were very serious that winter in Paris.” ~Jacques Lusseyran

“I sat up late at night. I had thrown myself furiously into the study of philosophy. I wanted to understand it all and felt it was urgent, I don’t know exactly why, but it seemed to me that such a chance would not come again, that I was going to be snatched away to more worldly responsibilities. All the ideas of men who had dedicated themselves to thought found their way into my head for the first time, from Pythagoras to Bergson, from Plato to Freud. I examined them as closely as I could.” ~Jacques Lusseyran

“At the beginning of May I had adopted the ascetic life, including Sunday. I got up at half-past four before it was light. The first thing I did was to kneel down and pray: “My God, give me the strength to keep my promises. Since I made them in a good cause, they are yours to keep as well as mine. Now that twenty young men – tomorrow there may be a hundred – are – waiting for my orders, tell me what orders to give them. By myself I know how to do almost nothing, but if you will it I am capable of almost everything. Most of all give me prudence. Your enthusiasm I no longer need, for I am filled with it.” ~Jacques Lusseyran

The consciences of my companions seemed to lie wide open before me, and all I needed was to read them. As to my own conscience, it no longer troubled me. I had dedicated it to a cause which must have the power of truth since it was teaching me to speak all those words I had never uttered before. ~Jacques Lusseyran

But there was one thing left which I could do: not refuse God’s help, the breath he was blowing upon me. That was the one battle I had to fight, hard and wonderful all at once: not to let my body be taken by the fear. For fear kills, and joy maintains life….I would feed on hope…I was now free to help the others; not always, not much, but in my own way I could help. I could try to show other people how to go about holding on to life. I could turn toward them the flow of light and joy which had grown so abundant in me.” ~Jacques Lusseyran

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