At seventeen, she has no parents, her left arm is amputated, and she has a one year-old neck fracture from a motorcycle accident that will likely never be corrected. What can we do for her in a medical clinic set up from three suitcases of supplies we brought and some medicines we were able to scrounge up at the local farmacía?
A cute little girl in a white dress with sores on her tiny feet; a sweet little old lady with sparkling eyes and a lot of pain; a thirty-something dad with a look of concern over his son’s fever and a woman who wept when her exam confirmed something she’s been fearful of for awhile now; it’s likely breast cancer – just a few of the people who visited our mobile medical clinic today, set up in a small church in the heart of Barahona.
In such a broken and desperate environment, it’s hard not to wish that we could just pray and then these lovely people wouldn’t have to live in such difficult circumstances. Our ibuprofen tablets and cool skate shows don’t take away the poverty and disease. The hand sewn dresses and stickers don’t give children a future.
What, then, is the point of us being here? After all, we can’t change their lives, make things better, take away the suffering, right?
No. But Jesus can. The only thing we have to offer, that will ever fix anything for more than a week in these (and our) lives, is ‘esperanza’. In English, that’s ‘hope’. The hope of knowing there is one true God who sees each one of us, and wants to save us from an eternity of chaos and pain.
He sees the young, very pregnant mom whose husband has walked out on her and their one year old; the woman whose sight has left her because of years of neglected pink eye; the man who lost his job because the arthritis in his hands is so bad – more people we did our best to love and treat today.
After we smile at, hug, listen to and treat people, then our mission begins – we tell them about a just God (important in a destitute and corrupt city) who, as a Father, loves them deeply and wants to bring them into his family and will someday take vengeance on sin. We tell them that Jesus’ death and resurrection is the way God accomplishes that, and that they can trust Him to save them. For someone who lives day to day in extreme difficulty, this is Good News! For someone who doesn’t live each day in extreme difficulty it’s Good News! After all, these days we live in won’t last forever.
It gives them, and us, hope; hope of two things – one, each life has purpose and two, life won’t always be hard. Eternal perfection – no poverty, no disease, no death, no betrayal, no politics – is on it’s way!
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negeb! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
So, why are we here? Because we can fly an airplane, or diagnose long-standing medical problems? Because we can wow the kids with a skit or a BMX show? No…anyone can do that kind of stuff, and walk away having left nothing worthwhile. We come here, and we go to the ends of the earth (Indonesia soon!), because we want to share freedom and hope with those are captive and in despair.
Jesus loves these Dominicans and has big plans here – again, we are humbled by why He would choose us to participate with Him in His work. Praise God and Thank-you for participating with Him from wherever you are! Your prayers and your donations are bearing much fruit! Someday….in the Heavens beyond, you will get to meet these people who’ve accepted that free gift of forever-hope in the Domincan Republic!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
Photos by Andrea Laurita – (www.andrealaurita.com)