Feature

It’s Our Job

When a little love does a lot of good

By

Several years ago, Jetty Stouten, my Dutch colleague, and I traveled to the outlying villages of Burkina Faso in our mobile clinic. (Jetty is a surgical nurse from CAMA Zending in the Netherlands, and I am a nurse from the Marietta [Ga.] Alliance Church.) We were in a village doing medical work with one of the Burkinabe pastors who has a heart for evangelism. Our “job” was to love these dear villagers and use our medical skills to treat them. Because there was no outreach in a neighboring village and he wanted to reach it for the Lord, our pastor friend asked its elders to make the short journey to see the mobile clinic work. This community was extremely fetish obsessed and incredibly traditional, and the elders made it known that they did not want any evangelism done in its parameters as long as they were in charge.

But since the village where we were doing our medical work was so close to the other village, crowds of people from that community came to us for treatment. Remember that our job was to love them to Jesus! We must have been doing it well, because soon the same elders who had forbidden evangelism among their people approached the pastor. “You can come to our village,” they said, “but only if you bring the two white women who do medical work.”

Mango Tango

We said we would go and work there for a few days. As we arrived with our “clinic on wheels,” it did not take long to see that, although they had invited us, the elders were not happy we were there. It was hard to make the turn into the village with our large van, so we asked if they could trim the mango tree that was blocking our way. No, they said, it could not be cut, not even one low-hanging branch!

Nonetheless, we managed to assemble all the items we needed for the work, and slowly people started to come. They could see that we were there to help and not to hurt, cause offense or make fun in any way. We ate their food and spoke their languages, and they liked that very much.

As the week progressed, the people warmed up to us, and more arrived for treatment. The longer we were there, the friendlier they became. The day we left, they would have taken down the whole mango tree to help us! The elders even asked us to come back.

Another Way

After a while, the mobile clinic literally fell apart at the joints. The men on our team deemed it to be no longer roadworthy because, as we drove along, we could see the ground through the floorboards. Thus, that chapter in our lives was over. There is a time and a place for everything, as Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 well states. Do we miss traveling to the villages to do medical work? We sure do, but the Lord in His wisdom provided something wonderful for us.

Jetty and I now work with the Burkina Faso national church and have a beautiful clinic with three consultation rooms, a room for dressing wounds and an area for AIDS patients and women with gynecological problems. It is great to have a fine-looking clinic where many people can come for help. This was all possible because of people like you who gave to our work! Our “job” now is the same as it was when we drove out in the mobile clinic: to stand up and receive the people with a lot of love, then treat their medical problems and, when possible, share the gospel and lead them to faith in Jesus Christ. Now, rather than traveling for miles and miles in the back country, we simply open the doors of our consultation rooms and there before us are those who need the Lord!

A Lamp Is Lit

This story is not finished, not yet. A few months ago Jetty and I were asked to return to that village that was so steeped in fetish worship. When we had first seen this place, the villagers did not want to cut a single mango branch for the mobile clinic to pass, but this time they ran to us with smiles on their faces.

It was a Sunday morning, and we had been invited to a service at the Alliance church that is there today. What a joy to see the building filled with young and old alike. Some remembered that they did not want us the first time we came, but we all laughed about it! It was a joy to speak to them from the Scriptures.

After the service the congregation fellowshipped in four groups: the older men, the younger men, the women and the children. Jetty and I were put in the home of the pastor, a place of honor. Inside the dirt-floored mud structure we were treated to a feast! The small table was filled with several African dishes that we relish. We ate alone (also an honor) and could take as long as we wanted. Then we joined one of the conversation groups outside. After being given two warm Cokes and two live chickens, it was time for us to start for home. A community that was hostile toward the ways of Jesus now had a church filled with believers with a strong witness for Him in the darkness!

A Promise Is a Promise

When Jetty and I arrived at the village church in Burkina, we sat outside in the Alliance churchyard and soon Jetty took out the photos of the many children she had taken pictures of the year before. She had had them printed in Holland while she was on home assignment, so they were of superb quality. As she began to hand them out, the parents came closer to see what she was doing. I heard someone gasp. “She said she would give us a photo of our children, and look, she really is doing it. She kept her promise!”

When you got your Faith Promise Pledge or Promise cards during your Missions Festival or Conference, your pastor probably said, “This is between you and God. No one will ever check to see if you really gave what you promised you would give.” That is all true, but how delighted our Lord must be when He sees that the amount on the Faith Promise card and what we actually give is the same or even greater!

Think of how happy those parents and children were when Jetty gave them their photos on high-quality paper. After all, she had promised she would do it, and she did! Then think of how our God must see us in the light of our carrying out our Great Commission Fund pledge to Him. After all, a promise is a promise! In August, I wrote a check to my home church for my Great Commission Fund pledge. Have you written yours?

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