Multiply the “beautiful feet” of those who attend to others in need
This story would have had a very different ending if it wasn’t for the committed and faithful men and women who said “yes” to God’s call and who give their lives to help those who are sick, hurting and in desperate need. | by Dr. Paul Osteen
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace, that brings good tidings of good, that publishes saving health.” ISAIAH 52:7 JUBILEE BIBLE
Each year, I spend a few months serving at Christian hospitals located in very remote parts of Africa. I go to relieve long-term missionary surgeons so they can have a break from the exhausting pace and go back to their home countries to see their families and friends.
Several years ago, I was working at a small mission hospital on the banks of the Zambezi River in far western Zambia. Late one cold winter night we were in the theatre doing an emergency surgery when there was a knock on the theatre door. Through the glass we could see Gift—the nurse on duty—and the urgency in his eyes. He told us that a young lady had just come to the hospital and that she was very sick and needed our immediate attention.
She lived in one of the many small villages on the west side of the Zambezi River across from the hospital. Several days earlier she had a miscarriage and was suffering from continuous bleeding. She had lost so much blood that she was barely able to stand and was much too weak to walk. She was in desperate need of help. Her concerned family and friends loaded her on the back of an ox cart and after journeying for several hours through deep sandy paths, they made it to the river long after dark. They then lifted her into a small dugout canoe, 16 inches across and just a few inches deep, and they paddled their way across the crocodile-infested waters of the Zambezi in the darkness. After making it safely to the other side, they carried her on a makeshift stretcher up the steep bank another kilometer to the hospital.
After news of her arrival, I finished an emergency surgery and quickly went to assess her. She was cold and wet and shivering and in shock. She was so pale. Her hemoglobin, which should be 12-15 grams, was a mere 3 grams. Her blood pressure was unrecordable. Gift quickly took a sample of her blood to the lab to find a cross-match for a blood transfusion.
I remember so vividly that she had no shoes on her feet and her feet were calloused and scarred from her daily life of toil. And every swirl and crevice and ridge of the soles of her feet were darkly stained with the soil from around her home and village. In the bright light of the operating room, the contrast of her pale skin and the swirling dark patterns made her feet look beautiful—almost like a work of art.
After an ultrasound, we saw that we needed to operate immediately to stop the bleeding. By then the operating theatre was clean and ready, so we moved her to the OR table and covered her with as many blankets as we could find.
Julie Rachel, one of the long-term nurses, skillfully started two IV lines. Allison, another nurse, helped Kyombo, who works in the theatre, quickly got the instruments ready for surgery. Victor and the lab team brought us 3 units of cold blood. Three of us took a bag and tucked them under our arms next to our chest to try to warm them before transfusing them. We squeezed two units of blood in as fast as it would run and then hung the third one to slowly drip in. I quickly performed an operation to stop her bleeding. Within an hour, her blood pressure had come up to 100 mmHg. She was now dry and warm and no longer pale.
As we waited there in the theatre after surgery, I couldn’t help but reflect on what I had just witnessed. A young lady who was desperately ill and so far from medical care. Her concerned family and friends who risked their lives to try to get her help. Gift quickly and accurately assessing her condition and making us aware. Victor, who had left his home on this cold night coming to the lab to make sure she had blood. Kyombo and Allison and JR, tired from working all day, never hesitating to help.
Now she is warm, her blood pressure is normal, the blood is transfused, the bleeding has stopped and the blankets are piled on top of her. She is surrounded by people who have tenderly, compassionately and expertly cared for her. And it is all in the Name of and for the sake of Jesus Christ—our Lord and Savior. There is no doubt in my mind that this greatly pleases His heart.
A few days later, she crossed the Zambezi again in the small dugout canoe. She trekked hours through the sandy paths back to her village. She smiled broadly as she was embraced by grateful family and friends. And she wore no shoes on her beautiful feet as she made her journey home.
This story would have had a very different ending if it wasn’t for the committed and faithful men and women who said “yes” to God’s call and who give their lives to help those who are sick, hurting and in desperate need.
Just like the people at this small mission hospital on the banks of the Zambezi River, your people, too, can say “yes” to what God is calling them to do. Encourage them that we all have something in our hand that we can use to make a positive difference in our world.
The M3 Conference
I was finishing three-and-a-half months working in a mission hospital in far western Zambia, right on the border of Angola, when one of the local physicians told me an incredible fact. He said I had been the only qualified surgeon in an area the size of Louisiana in my time there. I was astounded. A few weeks later, I landed in my hometown of Houston, Texas. Houston is home to the largest medical center in the world. There are 2500 physicians in one zip code in Houston.
After seeing the extremely limited resources and number of medical personnel in the areas I served, compared to the amount of medical resources we have here in Houston, I felt more could be done.
The desire rose up in me to host a global medical missions conference in Houston. A conference that would gather healthcare professionals who want to use their gifts, talents and training to help people in parts of the world with little or no access to healthcare. A conference designed for people interested in providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene, or an interest in orphan care or human trafficking. A conference for people with hearts and hands that are ready and willing to serve.
There are overwhelming needs around the globe. Every day, 830 mothers in low-resource communities die of childbirth-related issues. Right now, 74 million people are displaced or are refugees and 420 million children live in war zones. Half of the world’s population lacks access to basic medical care. And two billion people have no access to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In John chapter 4, Jesus’ words are, “Open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you…”
The theme of this year’s conference is “Can You See It?” Can you see the desperate needs all around you? It’s easy to look past these statistics and complicated issues, but our encouragement at the M3 Conference this year is to, instead, bring them into sharp focus.
Encourage Your Members to Get Involved
The purpose of the M3 Conference is for attendees to connect with others, to be inspired, and to find their mission. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
The M3 Conference is a wonderful opportunity for churches and pastors to help their members realize that they preach the gospel by caring for the sick, providing clean water to those with no access, using their God-given gifts and talents to make a difference in reaching the world for Jesus.
The next M3 Conference is February 21-22, 2020. For more information and to register to attend, visit www.m3missions.com.
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