While we were in Africa, we were busy sharing the gospel. Even if we were meeting needs, we didn’t do it without sharing the gospel. Why? Because that’s what Jesus did. Yes, Jesus met physical needs, but he always addressed the greater spiritual need. He never gave people a handout that would last for a day, he offered them words that could change their lives.
On one day, we held a gospel/medical clinic. We would let people enter the courtyard in groups of 15 that later would turn into groups of about 100 at a time. We would share the gospel with them, we would pray over them, and then we would try to address medical concerns.
In that day, I have never helped more people in my life and felt more helpless all at the same time.
As I rushed from person to person, some conditions could be treated with a simple Tylenol, Tums, or Neosporin. Some of the other conditions were too great for the country to handle. From 8-6 that day, I served as a medical assistant to some of the following conditions:
- I would attempt to administer eye drops and try to pry children’s eyes open so swollen from infection that all I ever saw was the inside of their eyelids instead of their eyes.
- I would give malnourished, dying children mixtures of formula and other nutritious mixtures.
- We would try to relieve mothers whose breasts were so engorged that their children could not nurse and they were in immense pain.
- We would give cream, soap, or Neosporin to children who had infected umbilical regions or genitalia. Little girls with horrible yeast infections. Little boys whose penis was swollen and infected.
- Our team used syringes to force feed children dying from most likely AIDS or some other condition.
- We saw a man whose foot had been halfway chopped off from a machete.
- We gave out medication for ear infections, worms, hemorrhoids, chest pain, and so much more.
As I rushed from individual to individual, germs and flies swarmed around me. I would administer care so quickly to the masses that I would often forget to pray for the individuals as I rushed onto the next person.
I never expected that as I would help the orphans there that I felt like I was keeping my very own Eli alive. I pictured someone giving him care years ago before I had ever met him, and I felt like I was keeping these children alive. I felt obsessed. I wouldn’t stop. I felt like I was keeping my lil’ buddy alive.
I need them alive. I want them to experience the gospel. I want their homes and their villages to be transformed. In such a dark place with little hope, we were offering hope. It was more than Tylenol and Tums. In our presentation, Brian would often share the story from Acts 3-4. Any money or medicine or food we give will be gone by the end of the week, but the gospel can transform within. It can allow these men to stop eating all the food in their hut and give some to their starving children. It can allow these villagers to move past fear that controls them. It can change a nation.
And while I know we did so much, there is still so much left to do. Jesus, heal their land. Heal their bodies. Most importantly, heal their hearts.