He Must Increase…

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.    

(Romans 5:6–8)


Being powerless is a funny thing, as within its reach is both despair and incredible hope.  This past weekend during an outreach to the T’ara people (also know as K’ara) I experienced this vividly.  It’s strange because the reality is we are all powerless, we might use money, looks, rank, service to others, profession to try and convince ourselves otherwise but at the end of the day we are powerless.  Powerless against our coming death, powerless against sin, powerless to gain any standing before a holy God…but that’s where the HOPE appears.  We don’t need to have power–for our power is found in CHRIST and CHRIST ALONE. 

The T’ara people live on two separate ridges in Southern Ethiopia. The second ridge has only had contact with white folks a few times and the first ridge perhaps 10 to 15 times.  My friend, Ben Skaggs, for the past 2 years has been going to the T’ara quarterly and teaching on the first ridge chronologically through the Bible.  Friday, we arrived and were blessed to treat about 30 people on the 2nd ridge. We then returned to the 1st ridge and enjoyed an amazing time of worship and teaching…it’s amazing to see the hunger for HIS word.  (This weekend was the first time they heard about Jesus!!!) The following morning, after another teaching session, we started our 6-hour clinic.

The first patient is below (I had a partner for this clinic, another Dr. Dave, a general surgeon and our soon to be neighbor in Soddo).  The patient was likely in her early 40’s and we were told over the past 5 years her body has slowly deteriorated neurologically. While she was cognitively very sharp, her body was gone.  She could only lay there literally twitching as she looked in our eyes for hope that this could be reversed.

I felt so helpless…so powerless, I could make several guesses as to what she had, but there was nothing Dave and I could offer other than prayers for a miracle.  Looking into her and her husband’s eyes, I couldn’t help but imagine what it would feel like to live on a mountaintop, a 12-hour walk for the next little village and watch your bride disintegrate.  However, with well over 100 patients waiting, we prayed over her and pushed on, seeing lots of interesting and sad things.  Everyone seemed to have scabies and when we were brought a beautiful baby with Down Syndrome it was hard to know even if it we should discuss with the parents why she looked different from her other children.  Below are several pictures for the clinics on both ridges.

6 plus hours and 130 patients later, I met Daniel.  He had waited and waited and waited.  Daniel had a ceremonial circumcision about one week prior and was in a grave situation.  To say his infection was serious is wildly understating things.  Dave and I both wondered if he would live, as it appeared gangrene had begun to set in.  Daniel is a believer, though his parents and siblings are not.  He comes from a family with some standing in the community, as they own 2 cattle.  His father was called in and told his son would likely die if he was not flown to Soddo for immediate surgery and even then there is a very high chance he still may not survive.

Walking into the church prior to learning of the gravity of his son’s condition Daniel’s father was a man of standing, a man of power with resources…yet an objective medical view changed all of that.  “I have two cattle and will sell them…but will that be enough?”  The answer of course was no…in fact that wouldn’t even cover the flight.

He was completely powerless, helpless to save His son.  And yet that is once again where His Hope shone thru.  “I know I can not buy my son’s health at the market with my cattle…if your God saves Him my family and I will believe.”

I find it so amazing that in our weakness, our dependence on God alone is where we find Hope, where we gain the Power that Christ can offer.  God provided for all the costs through His servants in Soddo and Helimission.  We loaded him with IV antibiotics that night and Dave performed minor surgery/debridement.  The following morning Dave and I, with Dean, our amazing pilot, flew a crying Daniel to Soddo where he had a successful life saving surgery.  He is recovering well and God has once again shown His power in our weakness.

It’s funny, because both Dave and I feel VERY INADEQUATE for the task before us and yet in the two clinics I’ve been blessed to be a part of, a lady who was losing her sight to infection was restored (I pray) and Daniel’s life was saved.  I’m so thankful that there is nothing in me to offer —except Him…which is EVERYTHING. 

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

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