Five dollars a foot!

Sharper focus

by Linda Manhardt, Major –

People often ask me what I miss most about serving in Africa. It is not hard to give an answer. The answer is twofold:

I miss the “purity of service” that overseas ministry brings. There is no motive, other than serving others in Christ’s name. There is no one to “look good for.” No “next appointment to aspire to,” and there is not even a peer group of like-minded individuals to impress. One simply serves, and does her/his best for the Lord and for others.

The second thing I miss most is the very powerful constant feedback that what I am doing is making a difference in the lives of individuals and even the course of The Army. It is a wonderful thing to see the results of your efforts. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about…

I was stationed at the Training College in Kenya, and had taken a brigade of cadets to a remote village for “spring campaigns” (although there really is no “spring” in Kenya, just wet and dry seasons).

Soon after our arrival and welcome into the village, we were having tea with the corps officers. Some of my cadets came to me, pleading for help with a situation.

They took me to a 14-year-old girl who was walking with a stick. Not crutches—a stick. Her left ankle was wrapped with rags and she hobbled on one foot. They unwrapped her ankle, and I was shocked to see a very infected wound that went to the bone.

They informed me that she would lose her foot if the infection could not be stopped. I felt helpless. What could I do? It seemed hopeless.

So I asked how I could help. They said she needed medicine. When I warily asked them how much her treatment would cost, they informed me that five dollars would get her the injections and other treatment that she needed. Five dollars! I couldn’t believe it! I gave them the money and extracted a promise that it would be used for the foot.

But I doubted. I really didn’t believe that my five dollars would buy the necessary treatment, or even that it would be used for the purpose intended.

To my amazement, the day before the two-week campaign ended, they brought the girl and her grandmother to me.

It seemed like a miracle! The wound was closed and the infection was gone! Her grandmother shed tears of joy and gratefulness. My five dollars had saved a girl’s foot! We gave honor and glory to God and took pictures together.

What a humbling experience to be used in this practical way. I could have so easily said “No,” out of the fear that I would be swindled! I could have had the attitude that “I can’t help everyone,” and hardened my heart. But God gave me the inclination to help. What a privilege. What an honor to make such a simple decision and change a life.

So now, I am faced with another simple decision. I have made a verbal commitment to sponsor an overseas child. I have received the packet. I’ve got her picture. I know who she is, and where she lives, but I have not yet sent my money.

Knowing all that I do about how my twenty dollars a month can change a life, I have still hesitated to do so.

I am ashamed of myself.

Yes, economic times are hard. No, I can’t help everyone. But I can help one little girl in Zimbabwe named Enetty, who has been waiting for me to respond.

Doing this is both good and right.

Today, the check goes in the mail!

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