Of Problems, Polio, and Politicians

“The poor you will always have with you” John 12:8

“God bless our homeland Ghana”

We were sure to hear it one last time on our way out of town and back to Tema. The Honorable explained the purpose of our last distribution during our last evening together. Before he became the Member of Parliament, he was the Chief Executive for the district. One of the jobs falling under his authority was immunization of the children against polio. He was made aware of a certain sect in a small village where no medical treatment (including childhood immunizations) was allowed to be given to the people. Even when they fell ill, or broke bones or had simple sicknesses easily treated by medical care available to them. The Honorable went on to say an old man had received miraculous healing, and based upon this experience he started a church relying solely on their prayers of faith for healing. It is not unique to rural villages in Africa. It also happens in America and is brought up in the news and in the courts on the withholding of treatment from children.

After pleading with the pastor and the village elders, the Honorable was refused. He warned them the children would be immunized one way or another. A plan was devised, the Honorable attended the church and at the end of the service, police had surrounded the building to prevent anyone from leaving, while doctors and medical personnel wretched the children from the arms of their hysterical parents and inoculated them against the life-threatening disease of polio.

Women were flailing on the floor, screaming for the help of Jesus, cursing those who were doing such a deed against the firmness of their faith. Honorable asked them, “Why do you shout down curses, when I have saved your children you would have let die because of your teachings?”
The even happened eight years ago, and he had not returned to face their wrath or offer restitution or forgiveness until now.

“And all this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to Him… and He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation” 2 Cor 5:18

The prospect of going to this village to do his political repairing made me anxious, nervous and not without a fair bit of irritation. After a week of political “stumping”, hand shaking, promises and excuses for “why” all the boxes were not there was “our” fault because he had tried, but…

For all his niceties and smiles, my cynicism was beginning to whisper “He is a politician. It is his job to make you feel at ease. He has his agenda.” But God reminded me, I am already working for someone who has an “agenda”. It is God’s agenda to reconcile men to each other leading to reconciliation to Himself. The “politician” used the only thing that will work in any format of promises made and broken. The “Gift” of Christ – He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

But God was using him (and us) to be part of the healing. After much apologetic phrasing and humility came forth from the nationals, the “ice” (even in the heat) broke. The elders, teachers and even the pastor began smiling and laughing.

One of the children began ringing the village bell to summon the others from the field. They began running to us, wondering what could bring forth such a strange crowd and meeting under the mango tree. As they stood patiently in line, I showed the “Rainbow Bag” trick – explaining the diversity of the gifts inside the box, but they all contain one invisible gift – the love of God that inspired the child that packed the box. Then I pulled out the 30 foot scarf, and said “God’s love reaches all the way around the world.” Their mouths drop and gasps of amazement fill the crowd. Oh, that we could truly be amazed like that each day how far how wide how deep, that our love for Him would be rooted enough to comprehend how great… (Eph 3:18)

As the exclamations of surprise and joy began when the boxes were opened I was reminded of the verse in 1 Peter 4:8 “… love covers a multitude of sins…”

I praise Him for covering my own, of cynicism, doubt and irritation of being “used” by a politician for a specific party “agenda”. I have submitted, I am already being used, not by any earthly politician but by a heavenly King.

“And let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap a harvest if we faint not,. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men.” Gal 6:9

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