The cost of travel for mission work can be overwhelming. My trip to Haiti this past November and the upcoming trip to Peru in June puts a squeeze on our already short-funded ministry account, but instead of focusing on finances and dollars, I vow to focus on the impact we can have on the lives of others. Because that is priceless. And no matter what it does to our support account, we will continue stepping out in faith and trust the Lord to provide for our needs while we continue to provide for the needs of others.
Below is a short story written by a colleague of mine on the impact health care ministries can have on the life of an individual in another country. It is a true story and a true reminder of how priceless our call to love our brothers and sisters is.
Emmanuel (God with us) used to go by another name. His name today reflects a change that has come about in his life. But he did not always believe that God was with him.
He was afflicted with a disease known as “elephantiasis” characterized by massive swelling of the arms, legs or trunk.
Emmanuel had been suffering with elephantiasis for years. His leg was swollen and the skin had broken down causing a huge open wound over the bottom third of his leg. Emmanuel believed that it was caused by evil spirits.
When I saw Emmanuel for the first time, he was waiting with all the other patients under the hot sun to be seen by a doctor. I saw that his lower leg was covered with filthy rags so I decided to go ahead and clean it up to make it easier for the doctors to see what the problem was.
As I took the rags away, my heart sank at the sight of what looked to be a huge open sore on Emmanuel's leg and foot. “Necrosis” usually needs to be surgically removed and I was fearful that Emmanuel would lose his foot. However, as I gently cleaned the wound, I realized that the black appearance had to do with local remedies and leaves that had been applied. There was a huge sore there, but maybe this leg could be saved.
Abandoned by family and friends because of this horrendous condition, he had nobody to take him to the hospital and nobody to help pay his bills.
We praise God that at Reach Beyond we have donors who care about people like Emmanuel and so we agreed to pay for his dressing changes. The local Ghanaian church agreed to pay Emmanuel's bus fare to the hospital each week.
Two months later, the missionary doctors who treated him went back. His leg was healed and through receiving love and kindness from the local church he listened to the Word of God and had committed his life to Christ. He was transformed!
Now no longer in fear of the spirits who he thought had attacked his life, he changed his name to Emmanuel, God with him—all the time!
Was it worth it? All that expense to take a team to Ghana? All that time and energy?