By an Alliance international worker serving in Southeast Asia
Editor’s note: Alliance international workers who serve in impoverished, creative-access countries daily encounter desperate people. The following is a poignant account from a worker who serves with CAMA, a partner agency of The Alliance involved in relief and development. Pray for God’s grace and strength for this servant and the many Alliance family members who have followed God’s call to lands we cannot publicize.
It is difficult to be a “rich” person in a society where many are desperately poor. Although it is a blessing to help others, how far do you go and where do you draw the lines? These are issues with which I often struggle.
Last Thursday Anna,* a Thai inmate, started vomiting blood, so the prison officials brought to her to the military hospital. On Friday she was able to borrow a phone to tell our team that she was in the hospital with no water or food. Hospitals here provide almost nothing, and the prison took no responsibility for her. Suddenly, it became my responsibility to bring her food, water, a mosquito net, a fan, a towel, soap and shampoo as well as to pay for her medicine and exam fees. When the doctor presented me with the bill, she explained, “Anna needs more medicine for the next few days. What are you going to do about that?”
“Open Your Hand”
There was a battle in my heart. I wanted to snap back, “What makes you think I am responsible for her?” However, the next day when we talked to Anna through prison bars in the hospital, she cried because she felt abandoned by everyone in the world except us. At that point, I was thankful that I hadn’t lost my cool the previous day.
Anna told us about Kaya, an inmate who is hospitalized with terminal cancer and whose mother and developmentally disabled sister are caring for her. They have no money, so they can’t buy medicine and have a hard time finding food and water. The doctor allowed my coworker to go behind the bars to meet this dying woman. When my colleague explained the gospel, Kaya prayed to ask Jesus into her heart.
Again the question comes, “How far do I go to meet the needs of this family?” They called to say they had no water, so this evening I delivered a large bottle to them. Tomorrow the mother and some of the other relatives want to go to church with us.
When we visited Oni, an African prisoner, he asked if I had put money into his account, as I had promised, so he could go to the dentist. The prison doctor reported that there was nothing in Oni’s account, but the books revealed that I had deposited funds. So what happened? Often prison workers, who earn about $40–$60 a month, find ways to quietly confiscate prisoners’ funds and supplies.
Pray that I will have an open and generous heart toward the needy, as well as wisdom to know what my responsibility is in God’s eyes.
“You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land” (Deut. 15:11).
What You Can Do
Make a Donation
- Give to the Great Commission Fund. In doing so, you partner with Alliance workers who are lighting the way for people trapped in spiritual darkness.
- Give to CAMA, a partner agency of The Alliance involved in relief and development ministries such as those described in this story. Note: This link will take you off of The Alliance Web site.
- Pray for Alliance workers around the world.