Beverly and I the joy of joining a medical team last week. A huge thank you to Bro. Joe Smith of Shakertown Baptist Church in Harrodsburg, KY, who invited us and to the whole team who welcomed us. The team had eleven folks and we were joined by twelve Nicaraguan medical and/or BMDMI staff personnel to serve in Wasakin, RAAN (region autonoma del atlantico norte). To get to Wasakin, you basically drive to the end of the earth, park, get out and walk across the swinging bridge. Simple. Actually it is a twelve hour ride from Managua and we made the drive in twelve hours and 15 minutes. Beverly and I had wanted to go for several reasons. One, we just wanted to see that part of Nicaragua. It is very remote, populated with indigenous peoples, very beautiful. Two, we wanted to get a idea about the possibility of working in that area with evangelism teams. Third, we wanted to see a medical team in action. All of our experience in BMDMI has been with evangelism teams and we wanted to get some experience with this vitally important ministry (really the backbone of what we do) of BMDMI. This trip allowed us to accomplish all of that so off we went.
The team was phenomenal. They worked so hard and ministered in more ways than I could begin to express. The team saw 1200 patients in 3 days, gave out 6600 prescriptions, extracted (that means “pulled”) over 200 teeth (not all from one person). Everyone who saw a doctor also heard the Gospel. There were several professions of faith. The village was unique in my experience. The poverty and remoteness, the jungle proximity with its heat and humidity made for a difficult week physically and emotionally, but what a tremendous joy to be able to serve the Lord by being involved in the work of the Kingdom. To top it all off I got to swim in the Rio Bambana with a bunch of village kids!
I think I could sum up my thoughts and feelings with three words (along with commentary, of course). Better make it three ideas. In no particular order:
1. To some degree, apprehension. We were going into a situation unlike any I had experienced. Many of the people did not speak Spanish. There were a couple of churches that had a presence in the area but neither of them really preached the Gospel. What would our living conditions be like? Well, the apprehension did not last long. We had a super fine two seater outhouse. Bathing water from the river. Water purification system for drinking. The folks were so kind and welcoming. God was so good in providing for us. Beverly and I both found places to serve – Bev in the pharmacy (she’s now part of Big Pharma!) and me in the kitchen. Before we could shake a stick we were going full speed with ministry. That’s always a great way to get one’s mind off of potential problems.
2. Excitement. Excitement because we had the joy of sharing that eternal message of forgiveness and hope with over a thousand people. Praise the Lord. The people of this village and every village need the GOSPEL: Jesus died for our sins and rose again to deliver us from our guilt and bring us into a right relationship with God and give us eternal life. It is unfortunate that the prosperity Gospel has been exported from the U.S. It brings a false hope and actually corrupts the truth. The truth is when someone comes to know Jesus their material and physical life circumstance may not change at all. In fact, it may get worse. But that is not our focus or our hope. He is our hope, focus, and treasure. We had the great privilege of sharing that with hundreds of people. Furthermore, we had the opportunity to make contact for future work in other areas of the RAAN.
3. Gratitude. We are so grateful to the Joe Smith team. What a fantastic group. They loved and accepted us. They were models of Christlike service. We are grateful for the Nicaraguan folks we were able to meet and work with as well. They were truly a God send. They worked so hard and with such joy. We are thrilled to know them and hope we can work together again. Getting to be involved in hands on ministry with Omar, Christian, and Arlen was simply tremendous. We are so thankful for the work of BMDMI. We are bringing real needed medical care and the Gospel to those in need. Thanks to all of you who support us financially, allowing us to serve through BMDMI here in Nicaragua. We are so grateful to the Lord that His love extends to the furthest village and that in His wisdom and grace we are allowed to go.