My friend, Gail and I grew up in a small country church, singing duets for special music on Sunday mornings. When missionaries visited, it was a big event. After the slideshow of the work in that exotic, foreign country, we'd rush back to the table where pottery, toys, and other curiosities would be on display. Going to the mission field seemed to be the height of adventure and one that was totally out of reach. That was then.
|Gail in the middle|
Gail, who's an RN discovered that foreign mission work isn't out of reach at all. In 2009, she made a short-term mission trip to Mozambique with Children's Relief International. Due to government regulations, Gail wasn't able to use her nursing skills on that trip, but it gave her a taste for what missions was all about. It sparked a love for Africa and a passion to serve, which has led to four more excursions.
Her latest was to Ethiopia where she was in charge of the pharmacy. The trip was through Hand of Hope which organizes short-term medical outreaches to needy areas around the world. Gail was part of a 30 member team that put their faith into action, offering medical and dental treatment. Ethiopia has been ravaged by famine and the people suffer from the lack of basic nutrition and daily needs. Over the course of five days, more than 12,000 medications were dispensed from the clinic's pharmacy. Seven Ethiopian pharmacists and three RN's from Hand of Hope staffed the pharmacy. Not only were the people's medical needs addressed, but the gospel was presented, offering hope for the spiritual needs as well. Gail tells me that 475 responded to the invitation to accept Christ and local pastors were tasked with the follow up for these new believers.
"I love the country and the people. They have nothing in material wealth, but are happy. Their worship is AMAZING! I go to serve God and provide the people with help, and always come back blessed."
She's seeing God at work in amazing ways. She says, "When 30 strangers can come together and work as a team, only God can make that happen. This last trip ran so smooth. You would think we had been working together for years."
Friendships are formed with people from around the world. And even after long days of giving injections and dispensing medications, the team doesn't quit. A worship service breaks out with dancing and singing before the day ends.
Most of us are familiar with the Scripture-- But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it...So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. Matthew 10:29,31. That Scripture was proved when Gail was helping with a tiny baby who was getting an injection of Rocephin, an antibiotic. When they asked the mother how old the baby was, she told them 10 months. Deeply concerned, the nurses consulted with Pat Bradley, head of International Crisis Aid which partners with Hand of Hope in Ethiopia. Their feeding programs have saved many lives. Although Pat knew the baby had been identified for the feeding program, no record could be found. It was taken care of on the spot. The baby was days away from starving to death, but this little one wasn't overlooked. God was at work in correcting the paperwork.
Gail can't wait for the next opportunity to serve. Her advice for those who may be thinking about short term missions is this:
1. Pray about it.
2. Talk to others who've already done it.
3. If God is leading you--don't hesitate. Just do it.
It brings to mind this from Matthew 10:42: Jesus said, "And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”
Who knows what wonderful things we'll see God do when we take that step of faith into service, whether it's at home or far away? Gail isn't wondering anymore; she's experiencing God at work through her hands of hope.
My thanks to Gail Beardsley for sharing her missions experience with SimplyLife.