A lot of bubbles have popped at different points for me in this journey of living and serving in South Africa. Along the way I think God is bringing me into focus in many ways. My viewpoints on so many things have burst and generally for the good. Views around poverty, family, church, possessions, success, security, service, dedication, faith, convenience, need, thanks and prayer just to name a few. In the role I am in now I spend a majority of my week in an office working around initiatives to support the people that support the organization. It takes a little more thought and effort to make sure that I am also carving out the time to interact and serve the people that our ministries touch or just friends and neighbors from the community. One of the ways I have tried to do this is just by simply stopping by to visit with patients in our healthcare center which is next to my office. I come from a healthcare background. I have been in and around hospitals on a weekly basis for the past six years of my life. I have interacted with patients at their bedside, been in NICU’s, critical care units, ER’s and seen a lot of things. Yet I felt so ill equipped to walk into our healthcare center and start chatting it up with patients. Some of this was probably due to language barriers. Most people speak English, but accents can be hard and particularly for patients who are ill and may lack their normal strength or ability. Some was probably due to the illnesses that we care for and my lack of exposure and knowledge of them. Some might have been because my lack of confidence in how to properly live out our vision to “reach people for Christ, bringing hope and breaking the despair of poverty and disease” in this particular environment.
As I started visiting recently there were a couple of guys I started talking with who had been in and out of the center quite a bit recently. To start they were very brief and casual conversations just to see how they were feeling and how their day was going. After a few visits I heard that one of the gentlemen had given his life to Christ. Now, it was certainly not due to any conversation he and I had up to that point and I just felt blessed to now be joining in his journey as he started to explore and understand what all this really meant. As I was talking with my new friend one day we discussed using my commentary bible to look at some key scripture verses together and understand meaning and context. We set 10am the next day to get together. Unfortunately as the journey was just beginning it would also come to an end. I received a text from one of the healthcare workers the next morning to let me know that he had passed away in the early hours of the morning. Another bubble popped. A guy I just spoke with, was set to soon see, who seemed to be feeling well and in good spirits....was now gone.
Three key things happened with this. One, I gained an enormous amount of respect for our healthcare center workers and workers all over the world who deal with losses like this on a daily basis. Secondly, there was celebration in knowing that this journey of new life he was experiencing didn’t have the pain that this one did. His life had been handed over and the battle won. Thirdly, the urgency of a life with Christ was pounded home in a way like never before. While it is easily to look at people who have all outward signs pointing to a sooner rather than later expiration date none of us are promised tomorrow. The need for your healthy neighbor, friend, colleague, stranger or even yourself to hear the Gospel should take precedent.
While I am certain there are many more bubbles to yet be popped I am thankful for each and every one that is broken. I feel like the person God wants and needs me to be has been buried deep in these for too long. And just like looking at something through the distortion of a mass of bubbles I know that with each burst God is allowing a clearer picture of who I am in Him to come into view.