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Several years ago I read a book that really impacted my views on international dscplshp work. That book was entitled “We are Not the Hero” by Jean Johnson, a veteran global dscpl maker. There were so many humbling thoughts and challenges in that book, but one of my main takeaways dealt with planning and thinking long range. She stated that before we do any type of work abroad we need to consider how our day one will affect day 10, day 100, and day 1000. In other words, we need to take extra care to consider how what we do in one moment will have an effect 3 years down the road.
And this idea was at the center of the 4 days in our second city, which, for security reasons, we will refer to as Jubilee. Because of the dominant religious belief of the unreached people group in the region, we had to be much more strategic in our work. So, we had two strategies. One of those strategies was to teach and train a handful of locals that were a part of Jubilee’s sports commission because soccer tournaments in that region are becoming wildly popular. The other was to complete more home visits with particular families in the region so that our team on the ground could further develop relationships.
And this is the long range thought in short term work that I am referencing. Unlike our training in the first city, none of the sports commission folks we trained were followers and none of the families of the targeted home visits were followers. But, the long term team living in Jubilee wanted to use us to deepen those existing relationships, serve and love these people and families like Jesus, and have the opportunity to spend more time with them by providing them a usable skill and also rehab care. That will have much more impact for day 100 and day 1000. With the plan in place, we went to work.
Over the next couple of days, two of my team members, along with one of the full time team members living in the city went and ministered to a few families in the outskirts of Jubilee. And man, what an experience that was. These guys did awesome. They trekked out to a little village to visit one particular family whose patriarch was dealing with some orthopedic issues that were limiting his daily function. They were very peaceful and welcomed our team gladly. This allowed for assessment and treatment of hip abnormalities to help make the gentlemen more functional. It was a great example of what I like to call “bush PT'', just doing rehab out on a mat under a tree in the middle of a village. Prayerfully, the full time team will have an opportunity to speak the good news to this family in the months and years ahead because of the trust and relationship building through the home visits.
While those guys were out in the bush, I was working with another full time team member putting on the sports medicine training with the men (and surprisingly a few women (which we learned is not necessarily normal but in that past year or so women and girls were being allowed to participate in sports and coaching which is awesome) that were part of the sports commission. This was also a strategic opportunity to deepen relationships with these individuals and provide them with a targeted skill to function in the community.
So, we spent one morning in a lecture format going over proper warm-up techniques, common soccer injuries, phases of tissue healing, ways to help athletes recover through those different phases, etc. It was a unique and rewarding experience. I don’t have pictures from that lecture but a local photographer was there snapping photos so later that evening we noticed we had made the local facebook news page. The next day we all met at the tournament soccer field and did a morning lab in which we reviewed the previous day's material, had them practice all the different exercises and stretches, and practiced taping ankles. It was a great time and after they were checked off with some of the skills, we presented them with certificates as meeting the necessary requirements for “Sideline Technician.”
The third day in Jubilee, we had the opportunity to meet, encourage and provide some training to a local physical therapist working at an inpatient rehab center. He was a fantastic young man doing great work but benefitted from some time with us in an informal question and answer morning. While there, we were also able to help fit and train some of his residents in using different assistive devices and wheelchairs as many of the residents were patients with amputation. It actually was an impressive operation for a small entity in a city seemingly on the edge of the world.
I hope one of your takeaways from these days is that even if we aren’t directly working with followers or directly speaking the good news, we can still utilize teaching and training if we consider long range impact in conjunction with a full time team on the ground. I am both hopeful and optimistic that the days of investing in all of these relationships will yield fruit in the lives of those we interacted with through the long term team living in Jubilee.
On our last day before flying out that evening, we had the privilege of sharing a lunch meal of camel, rice, and bananas with one of the handful of local believers in that city. Nolan (surname for security) was an amazing guy with an incredible story who started a farming operation as a means to employ others and make a living. In a region of the world that just had this aura of oppressiveness and darkness because of the dominant religion, what instantly stood out to me in being around Nolan was the indwelling joy that he exuded in knowing Christ. It was evident and tangible in his interactions and conversations. He had a contagiously joyous demeanor and smile. We were able to visit and support his shop and he even took us to visit his farm where we prayed over him and his business. It was a sweet time of fellowship and a great reminder that truly knowing and following Jesus gives otherworldly joy. Do you have that kind of joy and hope in our dark and broken world? And if you do, are you willing to share that with those around you? Ponder that in your heart.
**Check out my book "Rehab the World" written for Physical Therapists to encourage us in our workplace and prepare us to serve those around us. If you like, please leave a review and spread the word!!***