Life in Haiti is always unpredictable and fragile. Last week, we hosted a surgery team that performed all kinds of amazing surgeries to make life better for the people who were in need. There were surgeries to repair hernias, injuries, clubfeet and infections. One of the surgeons even fixed the leg of a man who amputated his leg above the knee because his leg hurt. He thought he had stepped on something evil and had his leg cut off to try and remove the curse. The surgeons, nurses, and assistants were amazing. They left on Saturday morning, and all of us at the mission had a pretty relaxed day after a very busy week.
I talked to Alana later that night and she asked how the day was. I said, “It was mostly relaxing with ninety seconds of sheer terror.” Needless to say, she needed more information.
As we ate dinner Saturday night, we were all in pretty good moods. We had rested, gotten some minor things done and were enjoying a nice relaxing evening. Suddenly, Autumn Marshall, our Occupational Therapist, came running upstairs and asked us to turn on the generator. We typically do not have power until about 7:00 at night and it was about 5:30. She said that Naika, one of the girls in the Miriam Center was not breathing and we needed the power to run the oxygen machine.
When you hear something like that, you don’t simply keep eating your spaghetti. Stephen Jernigan and Caitlin Smith took off to get the keys to get the power on and to get the oxygen machine. Autumn ran to get the nurses. I ran to the Miriam Center where one of the workers was holding Naika. When I arrived she had no pulse, no breath and her eyes were rolled back in her head.
I grabbed her, put her on the ground, checked her airway, and began to do CPR. For about 90 seconds, nothing happened. Then a pulse, a breath, and her eyes opened. By this time, everyone was back to the Miriam Center, the power was on and we put her on the oxygen machine. Naika went to the hospital, was examined by the doctors, and actually came back that night. We have no idea what caused this episode, but she is doing great.
I have thought about this instance so much over the last few days. It runs through my head at the strangest of times. I have been lying in my bed thinking about it over and over again. One of my friends shared this story with some of my other friends. One called me heroic. Another said I was fearless.
I don’t feel at all heroic. I certainly wasn’t fearless. Honestly, when I got to her, I thought she might have already died. When I realized I needed to do something for her, my first thought was not a glorious one. Truthfully, I was cussing in my mind. I was angry that another little one who has suffered so much was at the edge of death again. Not very pastoral or missionary like, right?
I need to admit that my own personal health and safety were on my mind. Our kids are sick so often. They get infections so easily because they have such compromised immune systems. When I began to work on her, I knew that I was committing to share in her suffering, whatever that may be. I know that sounds shallow and selfish, but it’s how I felt. I knew that there was a risk. I didn’t simply go on instinct without thought to it. I just had to deal with it.
It brings to light something that has been present in me for years: I don’t feel qualified to do what I am doing. I know my heart and my mind. Being a pastor and missionary should be for the people who have it all together. I’m a guy who is often overwhelmed by fear and who is constantly battling the thoughts and emotions that rage in my mind.
It has also brought to light something I have seen for years but that still constantly amazes me: the staff at this mission is awesome!! We may not have it all together sometimes. Occasionally, we want to snap and lose our mind over stuff that really isn’t that important. But when the pressure is on, these guys are clutch. Every person involved did whatever needed to be done. Honestly, the people I get to serve with make me feel like the weak link. They are incredibly passionate, serve tirelessly, and do whatever is necessary to accomplish what needs to be done in the most pressure filled situations.
I am writing to you to share with you that our feelings, our emotions and our thoughts are often deceptive. When I feel unqualified, I have to remember, I am unqualified. In my own power and my own spirit, I am useless. But with Jesus, I am more than a conqueror according to Paul in Romans 8.
People often tell me and our staff how impressed they are by what we do and how we live. Please, don’t be impressed with us. If you asked any of us, we would say we are unqualified.
Be impressed with Jesus. Be impressed that he takes people who struggle, who doubt, who have fear, and who never quite feel confident enough and uses them to serve the people who desperately need to be touched by his love.
The next time you feel unqualified, overwhelmed and afraid, know that you are in good company.