Monday, April 13, 2009

Nepal: Re-direction and re-focusing

It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.

-Erma Bombeck

I firmly believe that participating in a short term mission is much more about what God wants to do in the "server's" heart than those who are served. Of course we desire to be God's hands and feet to the poor, sick, and lost but it is my experience that almost universally team members are surprised by the ministry done in their own hearts when all is said and done.

One of my personal prayers for this mission was that I would be able to observe and learn from the team and PUMA ministry leaders. The time is coming soon when I will be leading a short term mission team. That is a daunting responsibility that I know I will only be able to do with the help of the Holy Spirit but I also know that I must do what I can to prepare for the task at hand. In 2 Timothy 2:15 Paul admonishes us to, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed." Paul was speaking specifically of studying God's Word but I believe that his words can and should be applied to any calling that God puts on our lives. So, right from the first team meeting back in October I have been in "gleaning mode."

And did I glean! However it is often the case that when I set myself to the task of learning I find that the knowledge revealed to me is quite unexpected and Nepal was no exception. I was seeking leadership skills and I learned about a servant's heart. Toward the end of the trip I learned about accepting the service of others gracefully. I desired to become a better leader and discovered how to become a better follower. I wanted to know how to conduct effective medical camps and realized that every one of the approximately 1500 patients we treated will some day die - every one! My passion to make a difference for God's Kingdom grew exponentially while my focus on medical camps diminished somewhat.

Of course bringing medical care to the poor and sick is important but it falls short of meeting the need if we fail to offer the spiritual healing all mankind require. This lesson was driven home to me with the force of a blow to my head with a sledge hammer when a woman came to us with a complaint of a "mass" on her breast. The examination revealed that the woman had inflammatory breast cancer, one of the most aggressive forms of this disease. Of course, we were not equipped in our little mountain medical clinic to address such a critical problem and our only recourse was to encourage this dear woman to go the closest district hospital at the bottom of the mountain. My heart was heavy as the disappointed patient slowly walked away. How can we just do nothing? Hey,wait a minute, we don't just have medicine, we have Jesus!

Our translator ran out the door and called after the woman, urging her to please come back. For quite some time Dr. Joe, the American Ob/Gyn doctor on our team, talked to this sweet woman through our young interpreter, introducing her to the Great Physician. In the end she was "almost persuaded," but the seed was planted and we will continue to pray that the Holy Spirit will "water" it and bring her to Himself while she still has breath.

The obvious question that must be answered as a result of all this learning is how does it impact Touching Lives? That's where the re-direction comes in! God is closing some doors and opening others with a renewed focus on medical clinics as a vehicle to proclaim the Gospel. This has been a burden on my heart for quite a while, now I am finally in position to have God show me how, where and when to carry out this ministry.

PUMA has been doing that kind of ministry beautifully for 10 years and the fruit of changed lives is blossoming. Seeing that first hand makes even whispering the calling that God has put on our hearts an intimidating thought. But my mantra throughout our two week mission became and remains, "not by might, nor by power, but by your Spirit!"

In God's perfect timing there will be more to come!

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