Take a moment and imagine you’re a farmer in Asia. You work hard all day, day in and day out. But you’re working in a place where there is so much dust. Often, you get dust in your eyes. Over time, your vision is damaged. Even though you’ve worked hard all your life, you still can’t afford treatment to take care of your eyes. It is a frustrating situation.
This was the predicament of a man named Bakhtawar. Many people in the area where he lived faced similar problems. That’s why GFA-supported workers decided to organize an eye-care camp where people could come and get free eye exams and treatment. Patients came from a dozen surrounding villages to receive care from the specialists there. These patients included people like Rahman, who had never been able to afford glasses and was so thankful for the free medical care he received at the camp, and Chakori, who had waited years for treatment because she never had enough money.
Apart from those like Bakhtawar for whom healthcare is inaccessible or unaffordable, there is another huge group of people who have been pushed deeper into poverty because of the cost of medical treatment. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “About 100 million people are still being pushed into ‘extreme poverty’ . . . because they have to pay for health care.”
Try to see from the perspective of these people. Think of the impossible, heartbreaking decisions they might be faced with if an illness unexpectedly hit someone in their family. As WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said, “No one should have to choose between death and financial hardship. No one should have to choose between buying medicine and buying food.”
April 7 is World Health Day. 2018’s theme is about the need to achieve universal health coverage. This is defined by WHO as “all people and communities [receiving] the health services they need without suffering financial hardship.”
By God’s grace, Gospel for Asia-supported medical ministry is helping thousands of individuals at the community level to receive free medical care and treatment each year in the name of Christ’s love. In 2016, GFA-supported workers organized 829 medical camps. Apart from offering medical advice and treatment, these camps are also a means to raise awareness about how to prevent common sicknesses that can easily develop into something serious.
I am so glad for the difference that is being made in so many lives through Gospel for Asia’s medical ministry. The need is huge. We have plans in the works to be able to go into very remote areas to provide ongoing medical care to those who otherwise never would have had an opportunity.
Even more than the health of these precious people, God cares about their soul. He sees their need—every one—and He knows how much it would mean for them to truly understand that He sees them and loves them.
Our call to respond to the needs around us and our example is given by our Lord Himself. In Matthew 9, you see Jesus going to different places teaching, preaching and healing the sick. In the next chapter, He’s sending the disciples out: “And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease” (Matthew 10:1).It’s impossible to know Christ, to gaze upon Him and walk closely with Him and not be affected by His passion for those who are suffering and in need. For when you are near Him, you will begin to see all from His point of view and through His eyes.
In John 4, when Jesus traveled through Samaria, He was hungry, thirsty and desperately worn out. His disciples were, too. Jesus sat at a well, asking for a glass of water while he was waiting for the disciples to come back with food. But something happened in the meantime—His encounter with the Samaritan woman. He talked to this one little woman who did not understood the Father’s love for her. She was undone, unforgiven and despised.
This one encounter eliminated his physical appetite. When His disciples returned, they were confused why He didn’t want the food they had brought back and wondered if He had gotten food to eat from somewhere else. Christ basically said to them in John 4:34-35, “My food is to do the will of my Father and finish His work. Are you confused about it? If so, don’t worry, lift up your eyes and see what I see.” What was it that He saw? Multitudes of people like this woman who needed hope. He wanted His disciples to see them, too.
What is holding us back from seeing the hopeless as Jesus does? I think often it is our self-centeredness, our health, our wealth, our future, our marriage, our land, our house, our security, our ambitions, our dreams, our children, our grandchildren and all the other things that are not necessarily bad things but continually pull us to become consumed with our own little world.
Let us lift up our eyes and walk away from our own world for a little time. Let’s look for ways to practice doing what Christ has instructed and showed us how to do. Maybe this World Health Day can be an opportunity for us to see the poor, the sick and the suffering through His eyes and to respond with His compassion.
Lord, thank You for being our Savior, for being our example. Thank You that when You call us to follow You, You never ask us to do it in our own strength. You simply ask, “Be Mine, walk with Me, abide in Me, let Me live through you.”
Today, Lord, the best we know how, we say to You, we want to be like You. Please live through us, change us and make us to become more like You. Help us to see the world around us through Your eyes. Amen.
Learn more about Gospel for Asia’s Medical Ministry.
Click here, to read more articles on Patheos by Dr. KP Yohannan Metropolitan.