The missionary heart

Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision, once said, "Let my heart be broken with the things that break God's heart."


One day last fall God saw Clara, a critically ill Guatemalan woman, and His heart was broken. She had two children, a useless prescription for antibiotics that she couldn’t afford, and two pieces of scrap lumber.


The Good Samaritan who found Clara and brought her to our makeshift medical clinic near a Guatemala City shantytown called “the Hole,” told us how Clara used those sticks that day to painfully propel herself down a dirty street in a last desperate search for help.


By the time she was carried to us, she was hysterical, feverish, and close to shock with infected legs, both blackened to the knees. 


Oscar and Lidia Banegas, Guatemalan missionaries who arranged that medical outreach last September, have broken hearts, evidenced by their passion to alleviate suffering and poverty – the same passion that has burned for centuries and conceived hospitals and schools all over the world.


When Oscar and Lidia see children denied education because their parents can’t afford paper and pencils, their hearts are broken. So last year they distributed 800 backpacks filled with school supplies. Then they brought 35 donated computers to Guatemala City and established English and computer training at a local church. When they see hunger and sickness, their hearts are broken, so they assemble and distribute bags of staple foods for distribution and are planning our next medical outreach. 


Because Oscar and Lidia’s hearts are broken by the things that break God’s heart, our team was in Clara’s neighborhood last fall, and she received professional care, medicine, and God’s love. As we administered IV fluids and antibiotics, our host ministry, “Living Stones,” located her children and brought them to her. After Clara responded to treatment and began to rally, they provided food for the destitute little family.


“The very practice of medicine is an opportunity to live out the Gospel.  Love, mercy, compassion, sacrifice, and healing are all aspects of Christ’s work,” Keith R. Bucklen, M.D., stated in Global Medical Missions.


Unexpectedly, a broken heart often contains the most joy. Like the joy of giving an elderly Filipino woman a pair of dollar-store reading glasses and discovering from her tears, hugs, and smiles that you had just handed her the world. It takes so little to give so much.


After Karen Watson, a missionary in Iraq, was killed in 2004, the following lines were found in a letter she had written:


The missionary heart:


Cares more than some think is wise

Risks more than some think is safe

Dreams more than some think is practical

Expects more than some think is possible.


(This piece was originally posted on the Oregonian web site)


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