08/28/10: Learning to be His Helping Hands

Learning to be His Helping Hands

In God’s great plan for the redemption of a lost race, He has placed Himself under the necessity of using human agencies as His helping hand. He must have a helping hand, in order to reach humanity. He must have the co-operation of those who will be active, quick to see opportunities, quick to discern what must be done for their fellow men.” {1NL 69.9}Reference????

It was Friday night. The front gate was closed for the night; the lights were off. After a busy day, we were in our pajamas in our comfortable beds, anticipating refreshing sleep. Suddenly, we heard the front gate rattling.  Sandra got up and looked out of the door. She could see a group of people at the gate, calling. They came into our porch, but would not sit down nor tell Sandra what was wrong. Finally she came into my room and said “There is group of people outside in the porch who want to talk to you. They will not tell me anything; they just say they are sad.” I was tired and would have preferred to sleep, but I got up, dressed and went outside.

The spokesperson of the group was the daughter of Angela, a Bible study contact whom we had been visiting.  She had had a stroke a year ago. She lived with her drunken husband who often did not even have food for her, let alone give her medicine in time or care for her needs. She had had six children but only one lived in town.  Many times when we went to see Angela she had not taken her medicine. We would take her blood pressure and it would be very high. We gave her garlic and other natural remedies to help get her blood pressure down. We knew it was not a lasting solution to her problems because she did not remember things very well and could not do much for herself. She refused to live with her daughter in another town because that town is hotter than where she lived. Two months ago, what we feared happened: Angela had another stroke. She had been in the hospital for two months. Now, the daughter came to tell us that Angela had died. The family was requesting help with the funeral the following day. We agreed to help, and spent part of in Panama the night making arrangements for the funeral.

The plan was for a short program at the viewing the following night at Angela’s house, and a full program at the funeral in the morning at the local Adventist Church. That Sabbath evening, we went to the house and waited three hours until they brought the body from the hospital. On our way home, we had to stop at the church to help prepare the body for the funeral the following morning. This was done quickly with the help of other members of the church. Then, I had to return to Angela‘s house to take some medicine to her daughter who was not doing well. At that time she told me that they were not going to bring the body to the church for the funeral because it was decomposing rapidly, something that is common in the tropics. Whatever was going to be done had to be done at the graveside. She requested a special sermon calling for her brothers to commit their lives to God. This family had grown up knowing the truth and had backslid-en, except for the daughter. We did not know this before the viewing. What an opportunity to testify for the Lord. But this meant we had to get up very early the next morning so we could travel with the family to another town an hour away for the burial. It was hard to get up out of bed that Sunday morning, but it was a rewarding experience to hear the testimonies of Angela’s sons after the program. They mentioned that by the grace of God things were going to be different. We pray that the decisions were not made by impulse and emotions, but led by the Spirit of God. The family was very grateful for the help given. The daughter told us “You cannot imagine how much help you have been to us.” To God be the glory!

These past months have been a learning experience for all of us. We are thankful for the prior experiences in the mission field but still there is a lot to be learned. We have to be flexible and work under challenging conditions. We are learning in the school of Christ to do His work His way. A large number of the elderly in our community have never gone to school and don’t see the importance of learning to read and write. We need to tell them Bible stories and sing to them, as to children. They also have many health problems. To the elderly poor, the government is offering a monetary stipend. In exchange for this money they have to be vaccinated and get regular health checkups. We see elderly people who get sick with colds and gastrointestinal problems, which are hard to get rid of.

Another portion of the population here are native Indians who have a lot of problems with alcoholism. We see many women and children suffering because of their husbands’ addictions. Sometimes we wish that the conditions were different, but we are learning that it is in our interest that God has brought us here, as the following quote reads: “The Lord saw that it was essential for us to be surrounded with the poor, who in their helplessness and need would lay claim to our ministration. They would be an aid to us in perfecting Christian character; for in providing food for their tables and clothing for their bodies, we would cultivate the attributes of the character of Christ. If we had not the poor among us, we would lose much; for in order to perfect Christian character, we must deny self, take up the cross, and follow where Christ, our Example, leads the way.” Review and Herald, October 15, 1895.

One opportunity we had a couple of months ago was to participate at the local school fair. We offered back massages, free blood pressure checks and free health consultations. We also had a questionnaire to discover the interests of the people. Some people expressed their desire to study the Bible. One day after the fair, a lady and her daughter came to the house to ask when the sewing classes would start. Her daughter stated that she would be interested in Bible studies. As they left, I thought of another lady who had asked for Bible studies. I thought, “I need to communicate with this other lady to make arrangements to start Bible studies.” Who would come to the house at that moment, but the lady I needed to contact! The Lord has been gracious to bring interested people to our attention. Pray for us. As in all ministering fields, the harvest is great, but the workers are few.

We look into the future and plan with God’s help to start building a small wellness center where we can be of better help to our community. The people that have health needs at present are treated at their home or in our house. We see the need for a treatment room and a place where we could bring people like Angela to teach them a better way of life. It is summer here in Panama, the best time to start building. We thank each of you who have so generously given to the work in Panama, as we move in faith to reach this goal. We had many delays to start building, but with God’s help and those who want to be His helping hands, we will be able to accomplish much for His kingdom.

Zaida Acosta, Living Springs of Health and Education, Panama.