I’m old school. I am a surgeon, board certified in vascular and general surgery, and I love what I do. Because of that, I tend to be busy and I work a lot. At any given moment, I have a lot going on and I love it that way. But last week, my usual routines and activities were interrupted, and I was sent to Ecuador.
Every once in a while, I get sent away. I am convinced that this is very intentional. I am convinced that because I find it hard to “be still, and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10) occasionally He just sends me away. As I have matured, I have learned to submit to these journeys and anticipate them as an opportunity to “be still and listen.”
I have been sent to gorgeous woods and beautiful mountains with Boy Scouts. I have been sent to phenomenal youth ministry camps in Tennessee. I have been sent to devastated Mississippi and destroyed Louisiana for disaster relief. I have been sent to the serene Dominican Republic for surgical procedures. And I have been sent to Burgaw, North Carolina… still listening about that one.
But last week I was sent to Ecuador. And until last week, I could not have found Ecuador on a map. North, South, Central America? I had no clue. Apparently, it is on the equator. “Okay. Why me? Surgery? No. Okay, and… Well, my daughter wanted to go on a medical mission trip and my colleague invited me. Okay, but I have a lot going on. I’ve got a lot to do. Not in Ecuador.”
But then I got sent.
Isaiah got sent. It’s a thing. (Isaiah 6:8)
And I got sent with 28 amazing people. 28 people who were able to put aside “whatever they had going on” and commit to doing something incredible. Under the leadership of Stephanne Marsh, they were going to intentionally “love God and love others.”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
And these people, along with about the same number of people from the CEMAD church led by Juan Pablo Cabrera, including a group of incredible translators, launched a medical campaign for access to general medicine in neighborhoods around Quito, Ecuador.
I had to learn about the location, the weather, the culture. I had to learn about extreme arthritis, parasites, and all kinds of rashes. I had to learn about devastating socioeconomic conditions and how that effects your health. I had to learn some Spanish. Oh my!
But the most important thing I had to learn is that regardless of the language or border or skin difference… every person longs for hope. They hope for peace in body and soul.
Many of the diseases, circumstances or socioeconomic challenges we encountered have no solution in this world. But still they came hoping. Over 2400 of HIs children in one week, each in their own way, came looking for hope. After all, the great American doctors were in town…
But here is the thing: in hope there is no color, no race, no age, and no status. We seek hope in money, status, and health. In our health, we seek hope from seeing the doctor, from a medication, from rehab, or from surgery… but none of it is permanent and none of it solves or satisfies. None of it gives peace. There is a bigger thing going on…
So where to turn as we hope for peace?
“but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Jesus said, “”I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“Send me, Lord.”
I want and need to be sent again…