Thursday, February 3, 2011

Serving the Lord... on the Other Side of the World

You know, it never fails. Inevitably, when I talk about what it might look like to live an obsessed life for Christ, someone always equates such a "drastic" decision with selling off all worldly possessions, packing up the family and moving into a grass hut somewhere in the middle of the African continent. For most, it's a feeble attempt at humor, but, for some, it just underscores their ignorance and/or arrogance. But, today, I want to talk about two men that chose to serve Christ in such a way. One man was born on the other side of the world and the other moved there. But both men, despite the obvious differences in their life circumstances, made a powerful choice... to live an incredible life for Christ.

Nathan Barlow
Dr. Barlow was a medical doctor who spent more than 60 years of his life in Ethiopia helping people that suffered from a condition called mossy foot. (It was primarily found on people who worked in the soil of volcanic origin.) Eventually, Dr. Barlow returned to the US when his health started to deteriorate, but he longed to return to the people of Ethiopia. So, he returned to spend his last days there. One of the things Chan shares about Dr. Barlow really stood out to me: "Once, Nathan got a toothache, the pain of which was so intense that he had to fly away from the mission field... he had the dentist pull out all of his teeth and give him false ones so he wouldn't slow God's work in Ethiopia."

Simpson Rebbavarapu
Simpson was born into a poverty-stricken, lower-caste family in India. After two unsuccessful attempts to end her pregnancy, Simpson's mother gave birth to him. Eventually, his parents took Simpson to an orphanage because they were painfully aware that he would have a better life there. Now, as an adult, Simpson spends his time between an orphanage he started and an evangelism ministry that he uses to spread the Word of God through the use of audio bibles for those that are unable to read. Simpson receives no salary for his work, citing that he would rather have that money go to the continuation of God's work. Simpson said that "living this way, he has to trust that God has His hand on his life and will keep taking care of him. He also says his dependence keeps him in prayer and close to God."

So... this past week, I've spent a lot a time really focusing on what God wants me to take away from these stories... these people. Like I said in the earlier entry, we are not to emulate the lives of others. We are to live the life we are given... the life that's unique to us. But, having said that, there is a common thread that runs through the lives of all these people. I've read these stories several times, but there is a new clarity, a different perception, that I'm taking away this time through. When I look at the life of Dr. Barlow, I can't help but acknowledge the difference between doing a "good deed" and living a "good deed." So many times, I will spend my time "doing the deed"... only waiting for it to come to completion so I can return to the other "things" in my life. Dr. Barlow was so consumed by God's work that he obviously fell in love... not only with the work, but with the people he served. (Not to mention the fact that the man had ALL of this teeth pulled...JUST IN CASE there was a chance they could interfere in God's work!)

In the case of Simpson, for me, what speaks the loudest is his complete dependence on God...especially for his finances... realizing that such a complete surrender requires complete dependence. I don't know what that looks like, not really. But, it's becoming painfully obvious that this is where I need to begin!


If you get a chance, take a look at these websites that provide more information about these men and the work they have done for the Lord.

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