“Ye Are the Salt of the Earth”
“Salt must be mingled with the substance to which it is added; it must penetrate and infuse in order to preserve. So it is through personal contact and association that men are reached by the saving power of the gospel. They are not saved in masses, but as individuals. Personal influence is a power. We must come close to those whom we desire to benefit.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 36.
Recently we visited some elderly farmers that we had not visited before who were not very open to let us pray for them at the first visit. We learned about them through a church member. At the time of the first visit with them, we learned that several members of the household were ill. This gave us opportunity to talk to them about the health message. The household consisted of three sisters and one brother, all over 70 years old. The youngest sister had had a stroke; of the other two sisters, one had a problem with her heart, and the other had high blood pressure and also a wound on one of her legs that would not heal. The brother had had a ruptured appendix a few months previously and had been bedridden for about one month after his hospitalization. He was very weak. It was interesting that, of the four of them, only one had married and had children. The older sister is 80 years old and the only one that has children that can help her. Alberto had not married and depended on his elderly sisters to help him.
We encouraged Alberto to get out of bed and walk as much as he could tolerate and then rest. He had a person that helped himget out of bed and helped him to walk. Soon he was walking around his sister’s house without assistance. He had a farm of his own; and when someone would take him by automobile, he was able to check how his property was doing. He was getting stronger. He wanted help to regain his health, and one day he even walked to Living Springs to talk more about his health. He brought his laboratory work with him. His cholesterol was high. We talked to him about his diet, which was high in fat. One of his sisters prepared the meals, and she cooked a lot of meat at every meal. We encouraged him to go on a vegetarian diet, but he told us that he could not do it because his sister that cooked would not like to cook differently for him. We tried to brain storm with him about the different ways to solve the situation of his diet. He had been getting stronger, and he had started to do some work in his farm. We asked him if he could pay one of the neighbor’s friends who could cook for him. He felt that asking a neighbor might make him have to walk too far to get his meals. We asked if we could talk to his sister and explain his need, but he refused. He stated that he had to eat the food his sister cooked quietly and not complain because he did not want to offend her. We tried to explain that he needed to make some changes in his diet quickly because his cholesterol was high; he had high blood pressure and was showing signs of poor circulation to his legs. To all the suggestions given to him, he gave us a negative answer. He liked to eat meat, and none of our explanations about the high risk he had for stroke and heart attack would convince him to make the necessary changes. Finally, we had to just pray with him and encourage him to do the best he could. We felt bad about his situation, but here was someone that wanted a quick fix for something that had taken years to develop.
In this area, as in other parts of the world, there are many that are like Alberto. They want help, but the appetite is stronger than their conscience, will and reason tells them. Many have very little education and have superstitious ideas about how to regain health.
Another example is one of Alberto’s sisters, Felipa, who had a wound on one leg. When we offered to clean it with hydrogen peroxide, she told us that she did not use hydrogen peroxide because hydrogen peroxide would putrefy her flesh. After much explanation she finally let us cleanse the wound. Once when we were visiting with her, she told us that she was told that if a pregnant woman would blow with her mouth around the wound that it would heal. Sometimes we wonder how people can still think as they do living in this day and age. This family needs a lot of teaching about health and hygiene. Felipa’s wound is looking better. She is now more willing to participate and is more reverent when we offer prayer for her and her family than when we first started to visit her. Sometimes when we offered prayer before, she would walk away and tend to something that was on her mind and then come back to where we were praying.
Satan’s work of keeping people in ignorance needs to be contrasted with the gospel of Christ. As we visit from house to house, we realize that there is much work to be done to help this community to learn that there is a better way.
Another group that suffers needlessly because of the ignorance of the parents is the little children. Many parents wait too long to get medical help for their children, and the children die unnecessarily. Sometimes we have had to take little ones late at night to the hospital simply because parents wait to get help.
We thank all that are partners in this ministry for their prayers and financial support. We move forward with the encouraging words of the Spirit of Prophecy which says: “Those who engage in house-to-house labor will find opportunities for ministry in many lines. They should pray for the sick, and should do all in their power to relieve them from suffering. They should work among the lowly, the poor, and the oppressed. We should pray for and with the helpless ones who have not strength of will to control the appetites that passion has degraded. Earnest, persevering effort must be made for the salvation of those in whose hearts an interest is awakened. Many can be reached only through acts of disinterested kindness. Their physical wants must first be relieved. As they see evidence of our unselfish love, it will be easier for them to believe in the love of Christ.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 83, 84. “There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort. If less time were given to sermonizing, and more time were spent in personal ministry, greater results would be seen. The poor are to be relieved, the sick cared for, the sorrowing and the bereaved comforted, the ignorant instructed, the inexperienced counseled. We are to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice. Accompanied by the power of persuasion, the power of prayer, the power of the love of God, this work will not, cannot, be without fruit.” Ministry of Healing, 143.
By Pablo and Zaida Acosta. Support for the work in Panama can be sent through Mission Projects International, PO Box 59656, Renton, WA 98058.