by Eddie Cox, editor
The phone rang and her voice was faint on the other end of the line. She told me that she was very sick. I prepared my heart and mind to visit her the next day. “C” is a precious friend who has battled so many personal and physical trials but never appears weak for the sake of her position in the community.
I went to see her in the market at her store. I went at the hottest time of the day because I knew that customers would not be present then. My friend “Z” and I sat on the bales of clothing, bare feet on cool concrete, sweat dripping from our foreheads, and began to ask her what was going on. “C” explained her lack of appetite and headaches. She had feared to go to the hospital because she is sure that she knows what is really going on. She is more than likely going to be one of the millions that are plagued with the virus that has no cure and is killing hundreds of thousands young and old. The day before, “Z” had spent a great amount of time with “C” encouraging her to go to the hospital. So we asked the question, “Did you go to the hospital?” The silence hung for a second and then she reached over to the plywood counter and grasped a flimsy brown notebook that held her medical records from the hospital and she answered, “Yes.” She then explained that they wanted to test for HIV, malaria, and other things. The appointment for more tests was that afternoon.
Thirty minutes later, we climbed into the truck and drove “C” to the hospital. She walked in with hesitation, unlike her normal demeanor. My heart was broken for my precious friend as her life may begin to be drastically different now living with this disease. I was thankful for the opportunity to minister to patients in the villages to better understand the disease and the side effects of the medicines. “Z” and I left “C” at the hospital and drove away. The conversation that occurred on the drive back home was a blessing from the Lord.
“Z” said, “‘C’ knows that she is sick and she wants to run but she can’t run from herself. She has to accept what is happening to her and learn to live with this disease. You have taught me how to encourage and love patients. When we went to the villages I saw how you sat and talked with them about life and asked them if they were taking their medicines and then shared Scripture with them. That is what I need to do for ‘C.’ I know that she thinks that her life is coming to an end, but it’s not. I have seen all of those patients in the villages that are living a good life although they are sick. She can, too. I just have to stay close with her to encourage her. I am going to go to her house once a week to sit with her to laugh with her and encourage her. I have learned what to do now.”
I looked at her and nodded and said, “You are so right. You have learned so much and you can always take that with you because you have learned how to share God’s love and minister to those outside of the church. That is what it means to be a child of God – always being prepared and ready to love those in need and to encourage them!”
We arrived at her home and we said our goodbyes. I drove home. My heart was full, overflowing. How good is our God that He has allowed me to continue to minister and love my sister and neighbor right up until the last week we were here in Africa? The magnitude of the blessing of seeing the fruit of our labor is an added blessing! All along, I thought that I was taking “Z” to the village to help me, but in reality, she was learning and grasping how to apply God’s Word to life. Praise the Lord…GREAT things HE has done!
“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our hearts before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.” 1 John 3:18-20
Editor’s Note: Praise God for the fruit evident in Z’s life as she uses what she learned from this missionary to be a blessing to others. Praise God that his work continues in our absence!