Mercy Ships mission statement says that we are to bring hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor by following the two thousand year old model of Jesus Christ.
What does this mean? What is hope and healing?
Healing is probably a little more obvious.
We perform lifesaving surgeries.
Tumors are removed that if left to grow can and often will kill the patient.
Cleft lips and pallets are repaired allowing infants to eat properly and be restored to nutritious healthy lives. We restore women’s lives by repairing obstetric fistulas that have caused them to be social outcasts in their communities. We straighten the legs of children allowing them to live lives unhindered by what these deformities could cause.
We graft burn contractures that restrict or in some cases eliminate movement of necks, arms and legs.
We donate our own blood to allow for these surgeries to take place.
That is healing but what does it mean to bring hope?
I have heard stories of patients who travel across the whole country because they have heard of a ship that may be able to help them.
This big white surgical ship brings hope just by entering a country providing the opportunity for sick and injured people to receive care that would typically be unavailable or too expensive to afford. This is all before the surgery actually takes place but what about the hope that we bring after surgery.
There is hope in restoration.
Most of our patients have given up on a chance at a “normal” life. The woman’s health ladies have often lost children in pregnancy, are left incontinent and often cast out of their homes. Orthopedic children may not be aware of what lies ahead of them but even in these young, precious patients we can see a sadness about being “different” than the other kids with the inability to walk, run and play. We know that as adults these kids would not be able to sustain the same kind of work with deformed legs. Many of our tumor patients have given up on life completely watching the tumor grow larger and larger taking more of their ability to eat and breath. We give these patients hope in new life.
But we do more than this
Joy is returned to these patient’s lives.
Beauty is returned to these patient’s lives.
Love is returned to these patient’s lives
Jesus came to restore the Kingdom of Heaven. At creation the Garden of Eden was a place of perfection. There was no hurt or pain or sickness or sadness or turmoil. When Jesus says that he comes to seek and save the lost he isn’t just talking about salvation in redemption from sin, he is talking about redemption from a sinful world and restoration into perfection with him.
Are we making these patient’s lives perfect? No. But we are helping to restore some of the beauty that was robbed.
Beyond this, we are showing these patients the love of Jesus and the hope and healing that he brings. We come and volunteer our time, money, sweat, tears and blood but we can only bring restoration to a point. Jesus is the only one who can bring full restoration inside and out.
Jesus brings hope to a hurting world and light to the darkness. He brings the promise of perfection with him in heaven and a love that will never fail or disappoint.
This Christmas let’s not forget what we are celebrating. Christmas is so much more than presents and it is even more than families. Christmas is about a way out of this broken life and a way into restoration.
This Christmas take time to look at your life and see how Jesus has brought hope and healing to it or how you can bring this hope and healing to others. You don’t have to be in Madagascar or somewhere else in Africa or another third-world country. Being a light of hope and love to those around you in the midst of darkness and hurt can be done anywhere.
One thing I have learned is that people are people no matter where they are and we can all use a little hope and healing, especially around Christmas.