for whom the bell tolls


Another interesting day at the hospital today.  Two patients died.  That is not the interesting part.  Death is an experience here.  The minute the patient takes his or her last breath, all family members that are present instantly begin wailing.  This is exactly what you would imagine it to be- loud persistent crying out.  I’m not really sure how long it normally lasts because they follow the body, usually out of my ear shot.  The first person who died today was the uncle of someone who worked at the hospital, so there were a lot of “wailers”.  The second was someone who I had seen that came into the ER and didn’t look good, but not terrible 2 hours prior.  Her family members were writhing around on the dirty ER floor as they wailed.  It is very dramatic and very different than any experience we have of death at home.  We don’t talk about death, and they yell at the top of their lungs.  They don’t welcome it, but at least they let it affect them.  They see death as the loss of a battle against evil spirits sent to them by someone who had cursed them.  As an outsider looking in, it is not difficult to imagine evil spirits playing a part when death is heralded with such cries of torment.  I do not know what the beliefs on after-life here, as that would seem to shape your view of death very much.  Perhaps I will ask…

On a somewhat more positive note, I wanted to share some thoughts from my journal yesterday.  There have been all these negative things swimming around and I just couldn’t let it be only that, so here is my attempt…

“Just Courage [the book I’m reading] says that since God is a God of justice, he is a God of compassion, wrath, and rescue.  Being a God of wrath means having moral clarity and accountability.  If God holds accountable, where is the accountability?  Is it all in heaven/hell?  I know that retribution is sufficient, but the victims… while they can still gain heaven, they have to fight through a lot of crap to get there.  It’s not easy to stay all peachy rosy when your life sucks.  Rising above and rising above- and then they get the same heaven as spoon-fed me?  That doesn’t seem fair.  Should I have to “work” harder?  Should you have to “suffer” to get to heaven?  I know it’s not about works, but should you “get more” for overcoming more?  How do you keep your heart pure through all that?  Dispel hatred and evil from your life when that is all that is flung in your face?  My hope is easy… and when I am called to hope for others in the face of their despair, then where is my hope?  my faith?  We wanted God to take us to a place where we couldn’t do it, where God would have to come, be with us, do our work… His work through us… well, we are here.  But did we bring God?  If CMA [sponsor of this mission] thinks Gabon is evangelized, then they say He is here.  We need to have some faith that He is in fact here and every day keep putting on His armor and fighting His fight, because we are His army!  God is here because I am here… Jeff is here, Amy, Deb, Renee, WE are here!  We must believe!”

One thought on “for whom the bell tolls

  1. Good, tough thoughts, Meg. It does not seem fair that the men and women around us who suffer physical/mental/social/financial hardship just because of the location in which they were born should inherit the same reward that you and I will (having suffered so much less in the eyes of the world).

    From what I have seen of the Church in West Africa and Kenya so far, faith is sometimes more accessible. I don’t understand because it seems like these believers have so many more obstacles to believing in a just, faithful, loving God. Perhaps in their poverty (in the physical sense), our brothers and sisters are more able to feel the weight of their need for God’s provision. So, do we, the rich and utterly self-reliant, have the easier access to belief in God/Savior/HS or are we really the destitute in need of a genuine faith?

    Perhaps God looks at faith through different eyes and the accountability comes through a relative, life and heart-dependent system, where we are judged and rewarded according to the talents and treasures he gave us: in Zionsville, in Lawndale, in Gabon, in Kenya. Thankfully he knows our situations and our hearts intimately.

    I pray that in the coming weeks, you and Jeff (me, Becky, our Traders friends, family) continue to experience Emmanuel/”God with us” in greater measure…surely He is there….surely He is here. We know He is because His promises are true.

    God bless you guys as you continue to walk alongside the physically poor, share in the stories of the afflicted, and toil for the health of the ill in Gabon.

    Some encouragement from the Word:

    Ps. 140:12. I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor.

    Is. 58:10. “And if you give yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday. And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”

    Psalm 146 (esp vv 6-7):
    7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
    and gives food to the hungry.
    The LORD sets prisoners free,

    8 the LORD gives sight to the blind,
    the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
    the LORD loves the righteous.

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