At first, I didn’t recognize the teenage boy standing in front of the registration table at Camp Bethel Medical Clinic, just outside of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Scores of people came to the clinic that morning, and we were very busy trying to register them so they could be treated. “What’s your name?” I asked the young boy standing in front of me. “Brian, Brian Josue,” he said. “And, how old are you?” was my second question as I worked through completing the form in Spanish. “Sixteen,” he answered. “Why have you come to the clinic this morning?” I asked. “I had surgery on my heart last month, and I’d like a doctor to look at it.”
Suddenly, all the dots connected in my mind, and to say the least, I was overwhelmed. This wasn’t just another patient. I remembered, ten years ago, when a medical team I was on, stopped to look at a six-year-old boy standing beside the road going up to Camp Bethel. I recalled the slim figure of this little boy, much smaller than the other children. He was lethargic, and didn’t run and jump like the other children around him. I remembered it like it was yesterday, putting my hand on his chest, and actually feeling the swishing of the blood moving back and forth from one side of his heart to the other. His congenital heart defect should have been repaired soon after birth, but he wasn’t born in a hospital, and his family lived in abject poverty. We all thought there was no hope he’d ever get the surgery he so desperately needed.
Other memories came flooding back. I remember the team’s commitment to do everything possible to get this little guy back to the United States for his surgery. I recall the physician on our team telling us if Brian didn’t get the surgery, he would not live past his fifteenth birthday. I remember the months and months of prayers, and the futileattempts to get paperwork signed, doctor’s permissions, visas and such. Nothing worked. Then, after two years of unsuccessfulattempts to get this child to the United States to have his surgery, he and his mother suddenly disappeared. They moved to a different part of Honduras, and we lost contact with them. I often wondered what happened to him, and indeed, if he was still alive.
Now, ten years later, that same little boy stood before me. Through joyful tears, I asked him how he got the surgery. He couldn’t tell me exactly how it came about, but a medical team from the United States came to Honduras last month and repaired his heart defect. He came by the clinic that day to thank us for our prayers. He and his mother had moved from Tegucigalpa to a place near the U.S. military base where someone from the hospital near the base discovered Brian, and took an interest in his condition.
Although he didn’t know the details of how and who, what he did know was many people had prayed for him, and God has answered those prayers. He knew ten years ago his grandmother and other relatives were not followers of Jesus. He knew growing up that a lot of badthings took place in the house where five to ten families lived. He knew some of his uncles and cousins were still in prison because of the things that had happened then. And, most importantly, he knew Christ had transformed his family. He came to the clinic that day to say thank you, and to give God the praise for what He had done.
He couldn’t explain why, but he knows God spared his life – something even more difficult for him to understand when he thinks about his nine year-old cousin, Christian, who is dying of cancer in the same house.
As I reflect on how God answers prayer, I am amazed, and humbled. I’m amazed at how God uses different people, from different places, at different times, to fulfill His sovereign purpose. I’m humbled that God in His sovereignty would allow us to participate in bringing about physical and spiritual healing to one single family, and one single person in a world filled with so many hurting and suffering people.
Yes, it’s just one boy, and one family in one small, country, Honduras. In some ways it seems like so little in the face of such overwhelming need around the globe. But, that’s how the world is transformed, one person at a time.
Jesus was always there for the least of society. Can we do less?
Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”
Matthew 25:37-40 (NASB)