The Significance of One

1 February 2018

Each 10-month field service in a country, our surgical schedule on Mercy Ships is determined by:
1) The assessed surgical needs of the country
2) The availability of surgeons for each specialty

Of course, some of the preparation is still a leap of faith, but Mercy Ships tries to plan out what they can.

Dr. Tertius Venter is a plastic surgeon who has been coming to do surgeries since BEFORE the Africa Mercy embarked in 2007. In the years I have served, he has completed two “blocks” of surgeries in each field service. Although he could crank them all out consecutively, many of his surgeries rely on our access to physical and occupational therapy to rehabilitate our patients. They would simply be overrun if he did not have a break in his surgical schedule each field service. He also does surgery in some African country hospitals. There, he says, “I will not do any burn-contracture related surgery. If there are no PTs and OTs to follow up, there is no point.” This fact makes the care we give on the Africa Mercy very special as Tertius performs many burn contracture released on the ship.

I have seen, now, hundreds of patients affected by severe burn contractures. Sometimes, the need seems far too great. When I sat through the scheduling process last fall and watched each patient’s screening form be assigned to a surgical slot, my heart sunk as I saw the forms that remained.

Last night Doctor Tertius taught a medical in-service about flaps and grafts (aka surgical arts and crafts) that he uses in his surgeries. Some of which have been invented by Mercy Ships surgeons (because first-world text books do not deal with such advanced surgical problems). At the end of his talk, he reminded us that our main objective is to see each patient’s value and love them. We must do the very best we can for each one.

Luke 15 “Then Jesus told them this parable:…”
The Parable of the Lost Sheep:
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

The Parable of the Lost Coin:
Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?

The Parable of the Lost Son:
A son disrespects his father and lives unrighteously. However, when he returns, the father spares no expense in celebrating. When the faithful son became angry at the extravagance, the father replied:
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

You know what the conclusion of each of these stories is? “______ calls his/her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost _____”

So today, I rejoice over the one. I rejoice over the one who gets to encounter the love on this ship. The one who had no hope. The one who gets to see Jesus at work in our midst. The one who got surgery–even if it meant several others could not.

The more I experience this mission, the more I am convinced that “light” and “dark” emotions can coexist. I could block out the memory of patients we could not help, but that would be dishonest. Now that I have seen, I cannot become blind again. Instead, I choose to rejoice in the one we helped, and I choose to (especially) pray for the one we could not.


What/who is “the one” in your life that you need to take action for?

A song that has inspired me is Albertine by Brooke Fraser
Here is the story behind the song: The Story of Albertine


Feeling pretty good about my social media break at the moment. Day one and I was already motivated to write! (Even though I just posted a blog yesterday.) So that’s cool. Now to finish some of the books I’ve been reading…

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