Toothaches, Parasites and Crowded Villages
by Nate Kidder
10 September 2012
It started with a speedboat ride on the choppy Nile River to the state capital. Prayers for enough fuel, and that paddling against the current would remain unnecessary, were answered. From the docks to the airport, they boarded a flight that would bounce about in rain-filled clouds to the nation's capital. It's the kind of journey that stimulates nausea even in stomachs of cast iron. Another flight, this one lands in Kenya's queen city, Nairobi. It "mercifully" ends with a perilous taxi ride on streets as wild as the touristy game parks. One of our friends recently traveled hundreds of miles and crossed an international border just to have a root canal. I'm not sure which was worse, the journey or the procedure. Other than the obvious fact that dental care in South Sudan is limited, it struck me just how desperate this friend was to get treatment.
Under the microscope, a specialist in Nairobi examines micro-organisms to trace a previously undiagnosed illness. She holds a PhD in medical parasitology and offers diagnostic and consultancy services. To those who serve faithfully in South Sudan, she may be as necessary as fuel in a car or oxygen in the lungs. One does not function properly without the other. Her patient today is another friend who has suffered for weeks with a parasitic intestinal infection. It's truly amazing to consider that such a small organism, beyond perception in our natural vision, could inflict such harm. If left untreated, it could certainly kill the host. It struck me again how desperate our friend was for treatment.
The frailty of the physical human body is shared among all those who live. It is the common experience of cancer patients, car accident survivors, Olympic weightlifters, blue collar and white collar workers, missionaries in South Sudan, and everyone else who walks the earth. We are all extremely weak. But this comes as no surprise to the biblically literate. We are told that “all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass” (1 Peter 1:24). We wither. We fall. But the same passage tells us that “the WORD of the LORD endures forever.” Beyond dental procedures, above microscopic investigation, further than mere physical provision, this WORD of God is the only lasting supply for a world so desperate for treatment. This is our hope for all who read, all who pray, and all who endure such trials. May the Living Word be your sustenance today.