Youth in Mission
She wore a withered yellow daisy over one ear. Her lips sagged into the spot where her front teeth should have been. Her eyes darted nervously, but the confidence of her younger companion assured her, so she spoke boldly, almost rudely. “I am here to get sweet medicine for my child’s cough.” The toothless mother pointed to the wisp of a child suspended in a colorful cloth sling across her shoulder
“After I finish class, I‘ll eat a quick lunch, and then I’ll see your baby,” I replied, trying not to sound irritated that my afternoon plans were once again interrupted, then changed my mind.
It’s difficult to enjoy lunch anyway when you know someone is waiting to get home before afternoon rain clouds drench the steep, slippery trails. “Come on down to my house, and I’ll take a look at the baby,” I said, leading the way to my tent under the huge mango trees a few steps from the school.
The younger companion had come with her husband a month or two earlier to get medicine. She’d been painfully shy then, but now acted as if I were an old friend. “My child’s cough went away thanks to that medicine he gave me last time,” she told her friend.
I examined the scrawny, malnourished one-yearold, gave his mother some medicine, and told her to bring him to me regularly so I could weigh him and give him vitamins. By that time, she’d lost her shyness and began telling me about her children. Then she paused, and her voice changed. “And then there is Runilin,” she said, her body tensing and her head bowing as she sighed with grief. “She was old enough to run. But not now . . . If I had only known!”
“Auntie, I don’t understand. What are you trying to tell me?” I asked.
Her face twisted in pain as she gestured across the valley. “She is buried over there in our garden. Her grave is still fresh.” Then she groaned, clenched her teeth, and said, “Oh, if I had only known that you had medicine, she might have lived!”
I stood silently and listened, absorbing her pain. I thought of the thousands of other people—in the next valley, and the next. The thousands throughout the world whose faces twist in anguish when they realize they could have done something to avert the suffering and death of loved ones.
But no one has told them yet, of freedom from disease, of freedom from bondage to Satan, so the suffering continues. Men, women, children and babies just old enough to run continue to die without hope. I’m not just talking about the fringes of the frontier. The overwhelming majority of people in this world have little to no understanding of salvation.
Of what value are your career, your plans, your very life in contrast to this huge need? As Eric B. Hare urges in Fullness of Joy, “Go, therefore, lose your lives in the furrow of the world’s great need, for ‘except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.’ John 12:24.” Lose your life to bring hope to people who have never had hope before, and find it again as faces twisted in grief melt into smiles of assurance of God’s love and the hope of eternal life.