Saturday, February 9, 2013

Defining Justice

Leveling the Playing Field

The honeymoon with the pavement dissolved instantly into the turbulence of a red soiled road covered with dust finer than powder.  The roof rack was loaded with supplies and the van bubbled over with anticipating travelers.  We were on our way to the village of Lwanika.  But, of course the correct pronunciation of that name was easily exchanged for Where the Dogs Turn Around.

Though a humanitarian group installed a water filtration system that provides pure drinking water to the village, electricity is far from this village that rests against the north shore of Lake Victoria.  Life is primitive.  Options are few.  And when the dogs reach this place there is nowhere else to go.  So, they just turn around.

Why were we here on this warm, breezy Saturday?  Did we come just to see where the dogs turn around?  Or was there a greater purpose?  Were we there to administer justice?

Nurse Kayla & Dr. Don
Don Klinger is salty, crusty, strongly opinionated physician from the windy wheat and oil fields of Oklahoma.  A week after a near fatal, or least disabling, motorcycle accident he was back to work at the local hospital. It was a divine wake up call.  Several years earlier he scoffed at others from his town who were publicizing their short term mission trip to Jinja, Uganda.  On February of 1st of this month he committed on the post of my previous blog:
Peter is so perceptive.  When he speaks, I listen.  He can see so many things I miss.  I look forward to seeing him, and you, Paul, in just a few days.  6 months is such a long time to be away.  There has not been a day, since July, that my thoughts and prayers were not directed to Jinja.  See you soon brother!
Back in July of 2012, God awakened something in this man with a tough exterior.  It was his first medical mission trip to Uganda and the medically deprived, but hospitable and happy people of Uganda captured his soften interior heart.  He is now the team leader of his second medical mission trip that is leveling the playing field.

Cellulitus on a young boy named Jackson
Steve Hass of World Vision observed
What was astonishing to me ... was the amount of scriptures that underlined the fact that true justice was leveling the playing field.  We are to disadvantage ourselves for the advantage of others.  We have to find constructive ways to assist and strengthen rather than avoiding or, often badly, taking or robbing the interest in self-reliance and ingenuity from the recipient of our charity ... The distribution of these items can be done in a way that restores self-respect, encourages self-reliance, and builds community and personal/corporate resourcefulness.
Dr. John withdraws fluid from a knee
With each of us doing what we do best yesterday, justice was administered.    Our 13 member team of Africans and Americans gave some of the diseased and injured of this primitive village, with only traditional medicine (witchcraft), the same level of medical attention that the developed nation of America is privileged to enjoy.  Providing them this new option leveled the playing field and brought glory to God and gladness to both provider and recipient.

150 kilos of beans were purchased to be sent home with those lacking protein in their diets, resulting in malnutrition   One patient will travel to Jinja on Tuesday, on funds made available by the medical team, in order to have their blood screened for a more productive diagnosis.  Phone calls will be made this afternoon to a clinic/hospital in Kampala to research the possibility of a surgery on Wednesday.  A young student of Fountain of Hope Primary School has a serious heart defect that could be remedied by surgery.  Tomorrow the team will minister medical justice at a nearby prison.

Byron observes neglected broken bone
which  leaves young girl with deformed leg
And, all the while, God will be changing the perspectives of the members of the medical team from the West ... as he changes the lives of those receiving their services free of charge.  I continue to stand amazed at the people who will disadvantage their lives for the advantage of others.  They come at considerable expense, but for an experience that in is incomparable to a cruise they could have enjoyed.

I love my job.  I love the adventure.  I love the relationships.  I love the opportunity.  I love to see the justice of God applied in the various areas of expertise.  I love to see God reveal to people in a primitive environment that He is fully aware of them and wants them to be aware of it ... in such a practical way.  I love to see God remove people from a developed environment to give them a perspective of Him that they would never have otherwise.  What a great job I have.


  1. As we worry about the rising cost of health care in America it's easy to forget about the cost of no health care in primitive environments to people just as important as we are. And are these conditions real? I can say first hand they are. Thank you Next Generation Ministries for doing what you can for those who can't.

  2. Thanks Doug for your gracious words of encouragement.

  3. Thanks for writing this Paul. A very timely reminder for me of the multi-faceted faces of doing justice. I am very grateful for your posts. You do have a great job! I love you.

  4. This story makes me "leak". I was so wanting to be on this trip with them. How I long to be in Uganda again. It has amazed me how it has stolen a piece of me. Love to you all.

    Dawn Unruh

  5. We wish you were on this trip too, Dawn. In fact, Pam and I, along Don and Linda talked about you tonight on the veranda. What are you doing in July? This medical mission thing may end up being a twice a year thing!

  6. And I see, "are this conditions real". Actually no they are not. They are worse. I don't know how some people survive when they should not. The injuries are so severe and we see them so late. They walk up to us on the "veranda" with third degree burns that should have been grafted and cared for, but, were not because there was no money. There must be a better way. I don't have an answer other than to do what I can do. I do so as just "an actor on the stage" and I'm happy to do so. It is hard NOT to love these people.


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