Funny story first off. This morning at church we sang “Shout to the Lord” which ends with the line, “Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.” You’re supposed to repeat that a few times using an overlapping-echo technique. So, we practiced it with Deanna and me echoing Ben. Nate was at the piano. When we did the song in the actual service, Nate ritarded near the end, but I thought, “Well, if we sing the echo, he’ll follow us,” so Deanna and I started it. But Nate just sort of played an arpeggio and ended the song anyway. Deanna cut off after “Nothing compares.” I sang “Nothing compares to the prom.” By then the piano had completely died away, and I was singing alone, so I just stopped. Right in the middle of the word.
So, there you have it, folks. Nothing compares to the prom. If you haven’t rented your tux yet, better get on that.
Now to the “hero” business.
We had a missions conference at our church this weekend. I forgot to go to all the stuff on Saturday. Instead I spent the whole day in my pjs, working on my novel edits. (Got a lot done. Does that make me less evil?)
But I did go this morning (nothing compares to the prom, remember?), and I heard Joel and Cindy Anthis talk about their work as medical missionaries in Nigeria. Joel is an ENT, and Cindy is a family practice doc. They showed a slide show that included before-and-after pictures of some of the people they’ve treated. People with tumors that doubled the sizes of their faces, distorting their features, often making them deaf or blind. With far less technology than is available in the US, Joel operates on these folks, often miraculously restoring their appearance as well as their hearing or sight.
I talked with Cindy over lunch about some of the hardships they’ve faced. They don’t have the equipment to do CT scans, so in some cases they have to cut not even knowing if the brain is involved. They always pray for wisdom and God’s help before they start, and sometimes stop to pray again mid-surgery. The results have been amazing and beautiful. And, in the process, many of these precious patients have also heard they can receive healing for their soul wounds as well. For the Anthises, this makes all the grueling work worthwhile.
Joel and Cindy have three children and a fourth on the way. Where they live Muslim/Christian tensions are a perpetual powder keg. Only one spark and they’ll explode. The economy is bad, so even educated people can’t always find jobs. Desperately hungry bands of robbers ambush cars or break into living quarters. The Anthises have been robbed at gun point.
They could be making the big bucks practicing medicine at home, but they’ve followed their hearts to serve the people of Nigeria–not just to preach to them, but to provide quality medical care that isn’t available from anyone else for many miles around. They’re also training local doctors, so more people can receive help.
It’s easy for me to think, “Oh, well, God told them to go, so He takes away all their fears and gives them courage and joy to do this exhausting work in a dangerous place.” In one sense, yes He does. But they’re not super-human. Every time they get in their car, they pray they won’t be ambushed by robbers. Every time they send their children out to play, they pray for protection. They get tired. Tired of constant curiosity about the “white people.” Sometimes they just want to eat a meal without faces looking in the window to see what they eat. As Cindy put it, they’re never lonely.
I didn’t leave church today feeling guilty that I’m not a doctor in Nigeria. But I did leave with a renewed desire to use my gifts for the greater good and the glory of God. Whatever I’m supposed to do, wherever I’m supposed to do it, that’s what I want.
We only live once. If I make it all about me, what a sad, sad waste of a life.
Love like you mean it, my loves. And I will try to do likewise. EZ
(Confidential to Grace: Cindy said that lots of women go into remission with RA when they have children. Just so you know. *wink wink*)