Saturday, January 17, 2015

Encountering God Where the Dogs Turn Around

It isn't just a typical dusty road.  No, this road also happens have a sugar refinery on it. Consequently, truck after truck transporting sugar cane to the refinery generate huge clouds of drifting red dust.  To avoid eating too much of this dust requires keeping all the windows up. Which is not desirable in a location a half degree north of the Equator.

Where we were headed demands at least one hour on this road.  There are a few places on earth that I've said they would be the last place on earth where I would enjoying living.  But, yesterday, every place along this road floated to the top of the list.

To make it even more dismal, my body felt lousy.  It ached just about every where it could ache.  My head was so painful that I looked for a shady place to sleep upon arrival.  But, the stomach cramps frustrated that ambition.  Not to worry.  I was with a medical team from the state of Oklahoma.  They would fix me right up. But, despite their best efforts, survival became my daylong aspiration.

All of that self awareness disappeared when Dr. Klinger found me and said, "We've got a problem." Suddenly unaware of my personal condition, I was anxious to join him in a solution.  He told me, "We have an 80 year old woman here with in-stage severe pulmonary disease."  Then he put it in terms clearly understandable to me.  "She is dying."

Ruth shows me her concern before seeing the doctor
Ever since Dr. Klinger repented of telling his wife, "You've got no damn business being in Africa," we have become very good friends. After a motorcycle accident that should have resulted in his death, he showed me the Honda Gold Wing and told me, "I think it is time for me to come to Africa. God has a purpose for me that I haven't discovered yet."  It was a life changing decision and Next Generation Ministries is so grateful whenever Dr. Don leads a team to Uganda.

That was a several years ago and he is now here leading his fifth medical team in dispensing hope with medical diagnosis and treatment to many neglected Africans.  Yesterday Ruth was one of them.

Dr. Klinger helps me explain the "bad news"
We found Ruth at the end of that dusty road. This village without running water or electricity sits on the north shore of Lake Victoria.  We have dubbed this place as Where The Dogs Turn Around because there is no where to go when you reach this place ... except to turn around and head back where you came from.

Though not a medical person myself, I suspect that there are occasions when it is obvious that the condition of the patient is in the process of dying.  Though I believe we are all physically terminal, I suspect that if we live by degrees then perhaps we normally die by degrees as well.

Peter, Ruth, & I share joy when she gives her life to Christ
Ruth has been fortunate.  She has survived the challenging elements of poverty and disease and reached the age of 80 years. The average life expectancy is currently 55 years, up almost 10 years from 2000 due to antiretroviral drugs given to HIV/AIDS patients.  But, the news I had to pass on to Ruth Yesterday was the reality that she is in the process of dying.

That was the "bad news."  I shared with Ruth that everyone is going to die.  Our bodies wear out.  We get diseases they can't fight.  We are killed in accidents and acts of war.

Barbara, one of our nurses, also welcomes Ruth
to the Eternal Family of God
But, the good news is that God, through His Son, Jesus Christ, has provided a way for human beings to exits in eternity with Him forever.  I quoted John 14:6 where Jesus claimed, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me." But it was John 11:25 that seemed to carry a powerful revelation.  Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, EVEN after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never die."

I explained, in simple terms, that those who give their lives to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, are given life beyond the death of their physical bodies.  I paused.  Ruth was thinking. Then, in her mother tongue, she told my interpreter, Peter, "If you will show me how to give my life to Jesus I would like to do that."

Yes, God is in the small African village Where the Dogs Turn Around.  And, He is now in the life, but decaying body, of my new sister Ruth.

Before we saw the next patient, we gave rice, beans, salt, and sugar to our new family member, along with some money to help her with financial expenses.  She was not expecting any of this.  She came to get physical relief.  But, she got so much more.  We hooked her up with some local leaders who will keep us informed of her condition and her needs.

There is nothing like sharing Christ with someone whom God has prepared to take a person's mind off of dusty roads and aching bodies.  They evaporate in comparison.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thanks for sharing this with us Paul. Great story!

  3. How amazing to come to a place knowing that you are just going to get some relief medicine for your pain and then end up receiving something greater!!! Now the ONE who overcame this world and conquered the grave his spirit lives in a dying body. Interesting.....really interesting story. Thanks for sharing dad!!

    1. You understand perfectly, Rebecca. It's what we are all about ... truly holistic medicine.

    2. She truly got what she needed. I'll see her again.


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