Missionary Moments
Written by Ana Gobledale
January - February 2003


Ana Gobledale
"... and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them." —Luke 4:40b NRSV

Honduras

It is hot! It is very hot. It is so hot that the sweat runs through our headbands and drips off our chins, soaking our shirts. The old man walks with great dignity to the dental chair. He opens his mouth, points to the only tooth left, and says, "This one, take out this one." Suppressing a smile, the dentist says, "Gladly, I'll take it out for you."

Tod injects the Novocain and while he waits for it to take effect, we all continue to drip. Tom picks up a couple of small gauze squares and proceeds to wipe off the face of the old man. Then, thinking that perhaps this action might be causing some embarrassment in a culture where the "professionals," especially the foreigners, are socially way above rural farmers, Tom hands the old man several gauzes, expecting that the old man will continue to mop his own face.

Suddenly we all see the face of Jesus in the sweat when the old man graciously uses his handful of gauzes to reach across the barriers of age, culture and language to gently wipe the face of the dentist.

Helen Burgess
Association of Evangelical Institutions
Tegucigalpa

Turkey

In Turkey, we do not proselytize; that is, we do not try to convert Muslims to become Christians. This fact makes it hard for some people to understand the term missionary. In the United States, the stereotype of a missionary as someone who tries to convert others is so widespread and indelible that many people at first find it difficult to see that international Christian mission consists of a broad spectrum of activities. It means whatever Christians who represent one cultural community do in another culture that furthers God's will for the world. It's up to missionaries to understand another people's situation, history, culture, and religious expressions, and to respond with love, respect, and integrity. In Turkey, our mission is to respond to the invitation from Turkish colleagues to live and work with them and to support their education and health work.

Ken and Betty Frank
American Collegiate Institute
Izmir

Nepal

I wheel 1-year-old Jonathan in his stroller to fetch his brother at school three blocks from home. We pass within inches of the automatic weapons held by the soldiers positioned at our intersection. How do we explain the truckloads of armed soldiers Andy and Christopher pass as they go on their early morning bike rides? What do we say when we are stopped by police if we're out after 8 p.m.? And should we mention the bombs that go off periodically in different parts of the city? I am sad that my sons will not enjoy the peaceful Nepal of my childhood.

Ellen Collins
United Mission to Nepal
Kathmandu

Lesotho

God's call. I hear it in a word of thanks from an AIDS nurse, or in the play of my daughters, or in a note of encouragement. But there are days with not even a whisper. When all I feel is lonely and afraid, all I see is pain and suffering. And I wonder why God ever called me or if I just imagined the call. Then my thirst is quenched. I see a beautiful sunset. I find wonder in the stars. I snuggle with my children. The smile of an AIDS orphan shines a light straight to my heart. God's love, as in the psalms, bubbles up like a spring in the desert to refresh the weary traveler.

Lois Ferguson
Christian Health Association
Maseru

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