Forgive me, Lord, for thinking that my agenda was more important than Yours. That was my emotional prayer at the end of a very long day in Busiu, a village in rural Uganda. I was one of the four teachers that day, leading a womens’ outreach at Pastor Zephaniah’s church. For most of us, that was our first time to teach in Uganda, and I for one was a bit nervous.
As I prepared for my section in the material we were sharing, I kept hearing my friend, Nicki, asking for someone to help the pastor’s daughter. I heard her request several times as I zeroed in on my material, but I ignored her, thinking that it could wait, or that she would find someone else to help her. Not knowing what the need was, I continued on with my preparation, and finally my teaching.
As we broke for lunch, Nicki continued to plead for help. “Doesn’t anybody have any medical knowledge?”, she implored. As I looked around at the blank faces of the other women, I had to admit that I had been an EMT in my earlier life, and I asked Nicki to tell me what was wrong with the pastor’s daughter.
The young girl was in pain due to some sort of infection on her leg and I agreed to take a look at her. We propped her up in our driver’s truck and it was then that I learned of a large bin of medical supplies in the back of the truck that were intended for Pastor Z’s church. Thankfully we had disposable gloves, gauze, antibiotic cream and bandages. By the time I finished cleaning and bandaging the young girl’s wounds, there was a long line of “patients” waiting for help. This was now a full fledged “medical shop” and with the help of others, we were ministering in a new way to those in need. A way that I had not prepared for that day. Mommas with sick or injured children waited patiently, and one by one I held their children and tried my best to help in any small way. Supplies were sent home with them, and through my interpreter, I explained what I was doing and what follow up was needed by the parent. A small child was handed to me and I was shown what appeared to be some flesh eating disease on the back of his leg. I really didn’t know what I was looking at. As I removed his clothes, I saw that this went all the way up his leg to his little bottom. It reminded me of a marshmallow, when the outside is burned and yet the inside is still soft and white. My helpers began backing up and then stepping away as I pealed off the dead skin and used what was available to try to clean and dress the wounds. I prayed that healing would be quick, and that the child would be restored to health.
As we were required to be back at our hotel before nightfall, our makeshift medical office had to close – in spite of the long line of people waiting and hoping to be seen. I’ll never forget that scene as we drove away, leaving behind many who needed help.
My heart was heavy when I realized that God had been prompting Nicki all day to not give up – to keep asking until someone stepped up. Why had I hesitated? Why hadn’t I responded sooner? If I had, more people could have been helped. I thought that the task I had been given was the one I was to do. I stayed focused on that instead of yielding to the bigger task God was calling me to that day. I repented of my selfish ways and asked God to forgive me for my lack of faith.
Several days later, as I walked through a tiny village with my interpreter, I asked him about a small hut that was in the center of several slightly larger ones. He explained that this was the village “kitchen” where the ladies cooked over coal. I peeked in and saw a fire ring in the center, and at that moment I realized what had happened to the little boy with the flesh eating disease. He must have toddled over to the fire, lost his balance, and sat in the coals. I had no doubt that the decaying flesh I pealed away from him days earlier was due to serious burns.
Forgive me, Lord, for thinking that my agenda was more important than yours.
Teach me to listen you, to hear your voice. Help me to move toward you as you call me, and give me opportunities to follow closely.