New Things-Part One

The God of the Bible is the God of the past, present and future. He knows everything from the beginning to the end. Before anything comes to pass He knew it and He knows how everything that comes to pass will end before it even gets started. Compared to His knowledge and understanding all of the smartest people who ever lived combined doesn’t come close to matching God’s knowledge.

The God of the Bible was God in times of old and the way He worked in ages past serves as an example and an encouragement to us. While His principles and purposes never change He is also a God of new things. Paul wrote that once we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior that we become new creations, the old things have passed away (see 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Then Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers that they were to lay aside their old selves, their old manner of life, and to then renew their minds in God, and put on the new self. These are beautiful verses showing just how much God longs for new things (see Ephesians 4:20-24). These verses apply just as much to each of us today as they did to the original audience.

This month I would like to share a very long overdue update with you. Jean and I have been on a journey for the last year or so during which time God has revealed many new things to us. During this time He challenged us to step forward in faith and do something new with Him. We have experienced things in ministry that we never imagined back in 2012 when we first heard Him inviting us to live and serve in Honduras full time.

A little over a year ago we sensed that God was moving in our lives and ministry in a way that we had not expected. As a result of the ministry we had been doing we had been learning much more about the medical situation here in Honduras. He brought into our paths friends in the states who were interested in making a difference in this area of people’s lives and we began to develop a deeper interest in doing the same. God showed us how this could be not just a part, but an enhancement to, our existing ministry.

Then He brought into our lives Dr. Maria. Dr. Maria is a Honduran doctor who lived in the states for several years as a child and returned to Honduras as a teenager. She then went on to study medicine in pursuit of her dream from an early age to become a doctor. Dr. Maria loves her country and her people with a heart much larger than her barely 5’ in height might indicate.

We continued to follow God down this path as best as we knew how. While not impossible to launch a new non-profit foundation in Honduras it is not the easiest thing to do either. So with God’s favor we formed a brand new non-profit foundation in Honduras called Family Health & Development Foundation Honduras. For several months last year we were also working on developing a new medical project that would benefit many people.

Then in August last year we received quite a surprise. The government of Honduras decided that it was time to do a comprehensive review of the public healthcare system to determine how it could be fixed to work better. While that review was underway they put a freeze on all new private healthcare project applications. Well guess what? We were just about to submit our plans and request for permits to begin building a private healthcare project near to our community.

The review was supposed to be completed with recommendations published in 90 days. That was over a year ago and so far nothing has really changed. Actually that is not completely true, some things have changed, which made it even less likely that the project we wanted to do would be approved anytime soon, if ever.

So much for that idea. Now what?

The Lord didn’t make us wait too long to find out the new thing that He had for us. You see, during all the time spent in those communities with medical mission teams and otherwise, one of the things we learned is just how lacking rehabilitative services are in this part of the country. We’re talking about therapies like physical and occupational therapy. We had met many people who had lost mobility and independence simply because there was no therapy available allowing a full recovery from fairly routine injuries.

Well, that’s not actually true. The therapy is available, and it is affordable for most costing as little as $2.00 per session. It is not uncommon for these sessions to last as long as three or four hours. So why are people suffering as I’ve described? Everybody should be getting therapy at these prices right? There is one thing I’ve not told you yet. The therapy center is located in the small city Gracias, an hour or more away from most of the communities we serve.

You might be thinking, so what? It takes an hour in traffic to get anywhere, especially if you are in the Atlanta area. For my Atlanta readers, there was a meme going around Facebook recently showing the traffic on the downtown connector at a standstill in both directions. The caption across the top read “Atlanta is an Hour From Atlanta”. While meant to be a joke it also happens to be quite true. After living there for twenty years I can attest to the fact that the photo was not an exaggerated or infrequent event. That picture is reality every weekday, and often even on the weekends. But back to rural Honduras.

In this part of Honduras we’re talking about an hour or more on unpaved, rutted and washed out mountain roads where only first and second gear are needed. Imagine having to ride in a pick-up truck (cars, vans and buses can’t get to many of these communities) in these conditions with a disability or injury of any sort.

And if it is pouring down rain, as it is at the time of me writing this article, and as it will do with much more frequency and intensity from now through the end of the year, it becomes impossible often times to get up or down the mountains at all in any kind of vehicle. Sometimes even 4 wheel drive isn’t enough to do it safely. And besides all of that, hardly anyone even owns their own pick-up truck in the first place.

So think about this. You have an accident and break something. You are actually able to get an x-ray, and a cast, which isn’t always possible. And after that you’re on your own. We know of cases where people were sent home with instructions on how to remove the cast so they didn’t have to come back to the hospital. And what of the recovery? Well, just do the best you can.

Admittedly sometimes that is enough. When I was in high school I had a rare fracture in my leg resulting from a football injury in gym class. I was hit in the center of my calf muscle by the knee of a friend when we both jumped up to catch the ball at the same time. The pressure of his knee in the muscle was so great that after the impact the muscle retracted and pulled off a tiny chip of the bone. My leg reacted as if it had been broken, well, because it had, although not in a way that required a cast.

However, I was on crutches for several weeks and my leg was immobilized with a brace and bandages. At the end of that time my knee was bent about 45 degrees and my ankle too was bent about that much and they didn’t want to go back to normal.

We weren’t a poor family but there was not what you call a whole lot of extra left at the end of any given month. So my dad decided that he and I would do the physical therapy ourselves. It was hard but we did the best we could and fairly quickly I regained regular use of my leg and foot.

My point is that sometimes it is ok to go back to your remote mountain community, do the best you can, and achieve good results. Sometimes the barriers that most everyone lives with here can be overcome without professional assistance.

But what about the times when that isn’t the case? What about the times when it takes more than just bucking up and doing what has to be done the best way one knows how? What about the times when it does take professional help? We’ll see how God has helped answer these questions next month.

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