Starved for Christ…
by Vicki Schrock, PBM missionary, summary by Dan Smith
It had been nearly two hours since leaving our Mission Base for yet another Remote Mobile Medical Clinic/Outreach. Those two hours of Guatemala “roads” seemed so much longer, but we eventually arrived. Once again, as is Paradise Bound’s calling, this village was at the end of the road, where few venture to go. Today’s clinic/outreach began with a few challenges…more would certainly follow.
The entrance into this school, where we were to hold the outreach, was a short, very steep embankment that (in 4 wheel drive) all 3 vans drove right up. The schoolteacher had not allowed us to use the classrooms so we set up under the awning of the school, this worked but was difficult for the waiting in the lines. I was completing my normal tasks at the clinic of setting up the med boxes, scanning the crowd for anything medically abnormal, taking blood pressures, and checking blood sugar. I also was watching the Dentist and his staff, who had come with this team from Keokuk IA, share the Love of Christ thru teeth that were in desperate need of attention.
We were about 75% thru the waiting patients when the next person in line caught my eye, and soon touched heart. This villager was relatively tall for a Guatemalan, although he was literally skin and bones, his hair was brittle, and his eyes were sunken. “This man is sick.”, I told myself! I quietly walked behind Dan, the founder of PBM, and began eavesdropping on their conversation. I looked at the patient info being written down; “WHAT?” “He is only 32, he looks 15 years older”. I was instantly more alert and anticipating what our Lord would reveal!
Not only had this team come with a dentist, they also came with a doctor. After gathering some information, Dan turned and began to share all the usual info with the doctor and myself. The first thing out of Doctor Tammy’s mouth was HIV or Hepatitis. My fear had been confirmed, this man was in trouble. More loving questions were asked, but something was missing. After 120,000 +/- patients (over 18 years) being attended to thru our clinics, the PBM staff is quick to pick up on the many other clues, and some of this man’s information just wasn’t adding up.
It was clear this patient needed more than what we were able to perform in a remote clinic. Specific blood work and other exams were needed. Our patient, Juan Carlos, was admitted into our Critical/ Long Term Patient Program, and set up to receive the help he so desperately needed! Juan Carlos then proceeded further down the line to receive the treatment he needed to hopefully keep him alive until the additional exams were complete.
Next in line was a woman with her many children. It soon became apparent that this was Juan Carlos’s wife and family. My thoughts again surged, “WHAT?” “Why didn’t they come through as a family?” Families are asked to proceed thru our clinic lines together, this was indeed strange.
After the remaining villagers had been attended to, our medical staff gathered with Juan and his family to secure a plan for the exams that he needed in Antigua. We also asked if we could pray with Juan, and readily agreed. We asked Juan’s wife and family to join us, but we were met with strange glances from Juan’s wife. After prayer, it was decided he would be picked up by a PBM staff member on Wednesday. Thursday at 5am, Yohanna (our Guatemala staff nurse) was with Juan at a partner hospital in Antigua. Exams were completed, doctors were consulted with, and life was shared.
The exam results were available Friday and absolutely NONE of it made any sense. Normal. “WHAT?” was uttered yet again! Normal, absolutely normal. No HIV, no Hepatitis, no infections…nothing Why did this man look so…terrible?
Then came the words that broke our hearts, encouraged our souls, and challenged us into a deeper walk with Christ and HIS calling in our lives. As Yohanna shared more, goose bumps formed on my skin, my mouth fell open, and I could not believe what I was hearing. Safely away from his village, and with the encouragement of another critical patient that had traveled with Juan, he shared his “life”. Juan’s wife and mother-in-law were starving him because he had accepted Jesus Christ and became a Christian. This precious man man of God was being starved because he followed Jesus Christ. Juan lived in hunger because he was hungry for Salvation and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. After much encouragement and sharing Christ’s Love, Juan is living with his sister in another village, being fed and gaining weight. He is also celebrating Easter this Sunday and being feed spiritually thru the power of the Holy Spirit! PRAY for him as he misses his children tremendously…Juan’s story is far from over, he needs YOU walking alongside him in PRAYER!
Am I willing to approach my Jesus with hunger? Am I willing to stand up to surroundings and circumstances when I am being persecuted? Do I love Jesus Christ more than anything…ANYTHING or anyone? Lord please let me follow you with the dedication and determination that I need to meet the challenges you place before me, regardless of what they may be!
LORD, please feed me!
This is not the first time we have come face to face with the enemy, in the 18 years since founding Paradise Bound. The enemy, utilizing persecution as a tool of warfare, is more common than we allow ourselves to be aware of. Cases like Juan’s, and tens of thousands of others around the world testify to that, but go sadly unnoticed. We are often so wrapped up in “our” worlds and “our” needs that we never see those Starved for Christ.
I wonder how many times Juan cried because of his hunger? I wonder how many times his hunger caused him to cry out to our Lord? Even more, when that answer came from Christ in the form a medical clinic/outreach, I don’t believe we can imagine the thankfulness and gratitude Juan must have felt and is feeling right now toward our Lord! Yet, as great a lesson this is, there is still another. One of not giving in to the persecution. NOT denouncing the name of Jesus Christ to receive something so needed, something so wanted, something to simply fill your deepest desire and sustain life…NOT giving in to the enemy.
Persecution takes many forms, but time prohibits sharing those today. Instead, my question for each of our lives is this; Have we given in? Have we given in to the emptiness we have felt inside? For that overwhelming hunger in “our” lives to be filled. Have we given in to earthly relationships in place of the One who longs for that deep intimate relationship with us? Have we given in to work, security, retirement plans, comfort (the list goes on) to fill that emptiness, that hunger for more…while others are Starved for Christ? Have we given in to those addictions, that in themselves are empty, yet somehow we are fooled over and over by the enemy that they fill? All the while our Lord knows our needs, even before we ask HIM…HE knew Juan’s needs. HE knew Juan’s hunger, hurt, and pain…just as HE does yours!
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:10 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you…if they persecuted ME, they will also persecute you.” John 15:18
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” I Peter 4:12-14
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:35-37
“For the sake of Christ, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then HE is strong.” II Corth 12:10
“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an Eternal weight of Glory beyond all measure…for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is Eternal.” II Corth 5:17
“I AM the bread of life; whoever comes to ME shall not hunger, and whoever believes in ME shall never thirst.” John 6:35
Our Lord’s words above are but a mere sample of HIS Love & filling that await us in this life & the next! But it is our turn now. “God proved HIS love for us, in that while we were yet still sinners, Christ died for us.” Are we willing to die to ourselves, so that Christ can live within us?
Is our work in Juan’s village of Panatzan done? Though exhausted when we returned from his village late that evening, it was 1 am before I found rest in our Lord. It was not just Juan…the feeling at the village, coupled with the quiet ride home, was all too familiar to me…it was/is HIS still small voice saying; “Follow ME…Go!” I found Panatzan on Google Earth that same night, and though the journey by vehicle is 2 hours, it measures only 8 miles from our mission base…a mere 5 minute flight once our Aviation Program is off the ground. There is also a struggling Christian church in Panatzan (one can imagine the persecution others may be facing there) without a pastor. Together we can change this village in Jesus Precious Name! This has Lay Pastor training/National Missionary plant written all over it! Together, we can PRAY for those persecuted AND persecuting…PRAY each into a personal relationship with Christ Jesus our Lord!
Let us make sure that we, thru the filling of our own “needs”, are not the ones persecuting HIS church in remote abandoned villages like these “…scattered among the nations.” May our Lord one day soon NOT say to us;
“Depart from me… For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink…” Matt 25:41