Doing Good?

A boy, age 11, wakes up and gets ready for school. His father is eagerly waiting for him on the sunken couch. The man shouts obscenities at his son, because the boy did not clean up a mess his dog had made during the night. Although this task is an impossibility, yes, since the boy was sleeping, the father’s anger goes unquenched. Yelling is not enough; he chases after the boy, grabbing onto his hoodie. His grasp slips, and the boy escapes out the door. The boy knows what’s waiting at home when he returns.

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An old man wakes up, his joints sore as he places his feet on the cold floor. He prays, “God, please place in my path someone who I can encourage today,” as he buttons his shirt to go out and have his regular coffee with his buddies. An accident in the road makes the man anxious as he knows he is going to be late; he hates to be late. He arrives at the regular place late, as he expected, and a boy is outside asking for someone to buy his breakfast.

The old man walks toward the front door and looks the boy up and down. He can tell from the looks of this boy that he does not come from the good part of town, so he gives the boy what he can, some advice: “Son, you need to get to school. It will do you a world of good to have an education.” The boy looks at the old man and then sees a person behind him. He asks the second person for breakfast, ignoring the old man’s loving advice. The old man thinks to himself, “Some people just don’t want help; too bad.”

The old man then has a fantastic conversation with his buddies about the past week’s church service. He leaves the restaurant feeling very good about himself. Then he notices the boy is gone. He thinks to himself, “Maybe he did go to school.” He smiles and walks back to his car, proudly thinking he’s really made a difference; and it’s only 10 a.m. He thanks God and goes back home to rest.

The old man assumed the boy’s needs and his situation. He thought the boy was skipping school or maybe not attending at all. In reality, he just needed some breakfast before school because he couldn’t go back home.

This story is not just for you but for me as well. I find it very convicting. I can often be judgmental. Many times, it is not harsh, negative judgements but just assumptions on what people need and where they are in life. The thing that’s hard about this story is that the man’s heart was in the right place; he intended to help. What can we do? How do we fix this and avoid missing the opportunities that are provided for us every day?

Luke 7:34 (NIV) states exactly what Jesus did and the example we should follow: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” [bold added for emphasis]. Did you see that word “friend?”

ACT: This week, get to know someone personally who you think is in need. If we are to live on mission in our communities, it requires more than giving some money or going to some events in the community. It involves more than just buying someone breakfast and feeling good about it. It requires building relationships and community with those who are much like ourselves—hungry to be known and to have their basic needs met. I want to be called “friend” by anyone who will have me, don’t you? Who will you share life with this week?

The Waiting Game

God asks me to wait so often that sometimes I wonder if He understands the concept of time. Then I remember He created it. Do you every feel this way? Jeff and Christine Stanfield, who have served as missionaries in Kenya and now Uganda since 1990, have experienced similar feelings. Read on for an update and life lesson from Christine as she explores the idea of God as our gardener.

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Photo credit: Christine Stanfield

We moved to Uganda late in 2012. In February of 2013 we planted two starts of lemon trees. We asked, “How long does it take for lemon trees to bear fruit?” The answer we received was, “Usually 4-5 years here.”

That sounded about like forever then. However, we were delighted to discover in the spring months of 2017 that our lemon trees were blooming. “Don’t get too excited,” we told ourselves. “The trees may just bloom this first year and not yield any real fruit. But just imagine NEXT year!” Yumm, we could almost taste the lemon!

We have been thinking a lot about first fruit. We are about to complete our first term (two years) in the position of Country Director of WGM in Uganda. We feel like first fruit times. We had our scraggly spots through the term. We were cautious about the beginning.

To read the rest of this story, visit the Stanfields’ ministry blog.

ACT: Meditate on the idea that God’s plan for you at this moment could be to wait. God asks so many things of us; and oftentimes, when He asks us to wait, we can get impatient. Today, ask yourself, “What can I be learning about God? How can I grow closer to Him while I wait and look forward to what’s next?”

Trauma and Critical Care Training: What Was I Thinking?

Have you ever seen a need, tried to meet that need, and then found that it is way more tiring to fulfill than you had originally thought it would be? Heath and Angela Many are missionaries serving in medical ministries in Kenya. Heath recently wrote a blog post about the need for more specialized training for the residents in the medical education program at Tenwek. The challenging aspect about this need was the long, exhausting hours he had to put in to figure out how best to teach them.

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Photo credit: Heath and Angela Many

“At some point in 2004, I walked out of the University of New Mexico Hospital with a smile on my face.  I had just completed my last day on the trauma service.  No longer would I be up in the middle of the night taking care of labor-intensive injured patients.  No longer would I sit for hours in the ICU taking care of the sickest of sick patients while others operated on the “interesting cases.” My career path was taking me towards the aspect of surgery that I loved the most—operating, operating, operating. I was happy to be in the OR all day while critical care specialists helped take care of the sicker patients whose care I was involved in.”

I spent the first decade of my career as a busy, private practice surgeon, which meant I spent a lot of time in the operating room.  I loved it.  But as our family transitioned to Kenya it became very apparent that good outcomes in complex surgical patients at Tenwek were hard earned.  Yes, a technically perfect operation is imperative; however, a good outcome depends on much more than just a good operation.  Technically difficult operations could be completed; however, patients who became sick after these procedures or who were admitted to the ICU after life-threatening trauma often times died when they shouldn’t have.

To read the rest of the blog post, visit the Many ministry blog.