Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As you know, I had a second opportunity to be part of a medical/mission team that traveled to Guyana, South America. This year, the weather proved to be most accommodating as it rained very little and the highest temperature only reached 88F. What a blessing for us! Working under the direction of Partners In Progress, we conducted a four-day medical clinic in Stewartville, Guyana. Over one thousand patients were examined and treated, and every one of them had the opportunity to hear the Gospel (very few declined to study). We distributed hundreds of Bibles, conducted a VBS for the children in the evenings, and had a maximum attendance at the nightly preaching service of 250. Twenty people obeyed the gospel.
Because of your generous financial assistance and/or prayers, I had the opportunity to spend four days studying the scriptures with people from a variety of religious backgrounds. Many of them had been taught to believe that Jesus is nothing more than a holy prophet, just like one of their many others. Most of them had never been told about the significance of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. But just as scripture warns us will happen, too many of them declined to obey. It didn’t take long to lose track of how many people told me they’d been born Hindu and would die Hindu. (The practices and beliefs of such a religion might not be familiar to us, but the excuse offered for not accepting God’s truth, is one we’ve heard many times before.) Regardless of the excuses, the seed (the word of God - Luke 8:11) was sown, and many, many people heard about the salvation available through the blood of Jesus. Thank God for the twenty souls who heard and also obeyed. I especially thank Him for the privilege I had of sharing the gospel with a man (Muslim) and a woman (no one had ever told her about baptism) who did choose to put on their Lord. They will often be in my thoughts and prayers.
On my previous trip to Guyana, I spent too much time concentrating on the poverty and the vast differences between our countries. This year I determined to look for what Guyanese and Americans might have in common. Just that one change in attitude made a significant difference in how I watched and in what I learned. Simply put -- in spite of our differences -- people are people. Even in Guyana it’s not uncommon for teenagers to rebel against their parents, or even worse, to run away or commit suicide. Hard, dedicated workers lose their jobs and their families struggle to “make ends meet.” Husbands and wives endure marital problems until they overcome them or just give up on one another and walk away. And even in Guyana, two-year-olds still throw temper tantrums. We are not so different. Scripture clearly admonishes us to go and tell because every man and woman needs to hear about the redemption only found in Jesus Christ. Not until we truly understand how lost we are without Him, can we ever begin to comprehend the hope and assurance we have with Him. “I was lost but now I’m saved” is a concept that everyone can identify with.
I believe the younger Guyanese will see better days and the thought made me even happier to be there. In just a year’s time many changes have come. New construction seemed to be everywhere. Outside influences, whether for good or bad, are flooding into the small country. This year more women wore slacks and most of the young teens sported blue jeans. Some of the girls even had their nails painted and wore makeup. Last year I saw only one cell phone. On this trip I saw several. The number of horse-drawn carts had decreased from the year before, but the vast assortment of animals still parading along the sides of the roads reminded me that some changes come more slowly than others. Who knows what we’ll find next year? One thing for certain, I do believe that by that time the main road into Georgetown will be a much smoother ride. Road crews were already busily at work from the airport, through the outskirts of town, into the market places, and all the way to the sea wall where our hotel rose high above the dark-brown water of Guyana’s coastline. Theoretically, wider roads are intended to help alleviate the congestion of more heavily trafficked streets. But having lived in a large city, I know that additional lanes might only make life more chaotic and unbearable. That too, is something I could identify with.
One morning while driving out to the church building (clinic site), our van came to a dead stop in the middle of a hot and dusty section of road. While we patiently waited, staring out through the windows at the unusual scenes taking place in front of us, I happened to notice a man pedaling a bicycle, recklessly weaving it in and out of the traffic. One minute he’d be on the right side of the road, the very next, he’d be on the left. When he drew closer to the van and I could see him better, I noticed a little girl sitting along the top of his arms, her legs dangling over the handlebars. She wore a brightly colored school uniform over the top of a white, crisply pressed blouse. Her hair had been neatly braided and tied with colorful ribbons that matched her dress. At the exact moment the two of them passed our van, wobbling along through the middle of the stalled traffic, I didn’t feel like such a stranger to her country. In spite of our many differences, I quickly realized the little girl and I definitely had one thing in common. For when the man almost steered the bicycle into the path of an on-coming truck, I saw the child squeeze her eyes shut as if even she couldn’t bear to watch -- and believe me -- I could very easily identify with that!
Thank you again for your generous help and for the many kind, loving prayers offered on my behalf. In the days to come, please think about our brethren in Guyana. Pray for them, too. They are sweet, God-fearing people who want to go to Heaven as much as we do. They understand what it means to be lost just as they cherish the hope and security promised in the blood of Jesus. I challenge you not to concentrate on the differences in our cultures or on the wide ocean that separates us, but instead, to identify with the common thread of love and hope that will bind us together throughout eternity: the blood of Jesus Christ.
Read related Team Leader Report (June 5-13, 2004)
Read Colleen Frost's Week In Guyana (2004)
Read Jill's First Time Guyana Experience (2003)
Read of other Team Member Experiences
Link to Guyana Missions Home Page