The Least of These
How we care for the most vulnerable among us is close to His heart
MIDDLE EASTHEALTHCAREMEDICAL MISSIONS
On Saturday, we made the trek back south again into the West Bank region and had our sights set on a different village than earlier this week. We were greeted by a social worker who works in this area and she accompanied us during visits to different homes after first meeting at the town's council meeting facility. A man who works with the town council provided us some transportation to the homes. Before we left there though, we were given the usual small paper cup of Turkish coffee. I've had so many small cups of this, I'm going to miss it when I get back home. After I've written before, if the people here I've met have any means of providing something to you to be hospitable, they offer it to you anyway despite their own need.
One of the homes visited had three sisters who all live together, but are not mentally stable. They had two medications that they all took not knowing for what they were taking it. One sister was crying when we got there stating that her brother had come by and had beat her with a cane. After listening to her story, she settled down enough to allow for some attempts at trying to see what her problems were. I noticed her legs looked like they might be swollen or either she might have had a lot of clothes on the legs. It was a little chilly with the rain today. Upon her allowing me to pull off her socks and pull up her pants to the calves, it was apparent that this poor lady had not bathed in an extremely long period of time. Her feet and legs were swollen with old, thick buildup of dead skin and dirt with an awful smell. Even her clothes had the same detritus embedded within them from not changing her clothes. We got a large pan and put some soap and warm water in it and placed her feet in it so that we could clean up at least this part of her body. There is a picture in the gallery of this blog post showing how dirty that clean water became from just her legs and feet. We didn't have a brush, but used some wadded baling twine to scrub her. Her skin eventually looked so much better and she had a smile showing then. The other two sisters were there and were going to try to coax her to get into the shower and then change her very dirty clothes. The lady's brother came in while we were there and although he seemed frustrated when he first arrived, after listening and watching for a bit, he softened. I checked out some other problems there and upon leaving the very basic shelter they called home, I noticed the brother had tears in his eyes. I think he has been so frustrated with trying to manage his own life and these three sisters who all need some serious help, that is not present for them sufficiently, that he is not handling the situation well anymore. There is absolutely no other place for them to go and no other help available.
Another home for a lady was visited where the older lady sat on a dirty, simple bed in the corner of an approximately 10' x 10' room with plain, bare concrete walls. There was a small sink in the other end of the room. She is not able to walk due to the severity of the osteoarthritis in her legs, especially her knees, with bilateral leg swelling. Looking out the door of her room to the outside are four to five concrete steps with no cover over them before this half-rotten, wood door with a wood latch (it looks like an old outhouse door, but worse) has to be opened for her to use the bathroom if needed. She cannot walk, so she crawls to the outside and up these steps to go to the bathroom there when needed. This humble lady clearly had chronic heart failure with an irregular heart rate and uncontrolled blood pressure. She did not take the diuretic because of the difficulties with getting to the bathroom. She only took half of the dose of her anti-hypertensive medication due to the cost of buying what was recommended to her.
From that one extreme in the same village, we ventured over to another home up on a hilltop where there was a lot of wind. This family had a very nice home and were relatives of some of the local leaders. We talked for a while and I checked out some eczema problems their little boy had. After some Turkish coffee and a snack they graciously offered, we departed back to the town council building.
In Matthew 25:40, we read, "And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ "(NKJV). How a society takes care of the least capable and most vulnerable of its own is a tremendous indicator of the health of a community, physically and spiritually. In this area, there are so many deficiencies it's hard to know where to start. Where do you start? You start with one person at a time. No one can fix everything, but when what you do makes someone then question why you are doing what you are, there is then that open opportunity to share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ. The ministry here I've been working with has seen just that among the people they serve when it has resulted in them accepting Jesus Christ as Messiah, Lord, and Savior. People in this area have enough religion everywhere. They don't need or want another sermon. They don't want someone telling them what they should be doing or not doing. What they need, and do "listen" to, are actions of servanthood done just like our Lord Jesus Christ did when He walked here among us. I'm been blessed this week to see that demonstrated in so many ways.
After we got back on our way out of this region, we stopped along the way at a locally bakery where they have a wood fired, large stone oven inside with loads of breads of various sorts (see pictures above). The bread here costs much less than it does in the main part of Israel so many of the Israeli Arabs come across the checkpoint to buy vegetables (some of the largest veggies and fruits I've ever seen) and other items. Even with gasoline here being the equivalent of $7 per gallon, it's enough savings difference that the drive is worth it.
We had our third time today this week to get pulled aside again at the checkpoint for a complete vehicle inspection and had to be scanned again there before they let us depart. Yet again today, I got questioned and their facial expressions clearly showed bewilderment about what in the world is this American doing with this Arab family (George's wife and oldest son came today, too). George and I both told them the truth and it's apparently too much for them to accept, so that is what prompts the frequent searches. Let's hope and pray these type of missional activities will get so commonplace that it won't continue to look so suspicious. God loves and values all of us the same, whether Jew or Gentile, and whether Arab or European. In Romans 2, we read about how God is no respecter of persons; there is no partiality with God. As Christians, we should seek to emulate that character and put away the worldly ways that only bring division and chaos among us.