Guest blogger Will Davies, one of seven students in this summer’s Community Health Immersion, writes…
I thought it was another normal day at Siloam. The health care providers were supplely moving about the clinic, tending to each of their patients (including any unscheduled walk in patients). Interpreters were turning the confusing syllables of patients who spoke no English into relatable language for the health care providers. And as if the administrative staff had personally learned from God, himself, when he formed the world, they too brought all sorts of chaos into order.
It’s here that our team has seen how Siloam isn’t just restoring the health of those who live in financial poverty, but they are bringing down the Kingdom of God to their patients, helping restore different types of poverty as well. For we live in a world stricken with poverty. Relationships with loved ones, our self-image and worth, the creation around us, and our relationship with God can all exist in poverty.
And our CHI team has been lucky enough to join with Siloam and fight against these different types of poverty.
“…a refugee…sat hunched over from pain…”
Two weeks ago I found myself in a clinic room with two people: a refugee, and one of Siloam’s health providers whom I was shadowing. What could have been a simple check up was made trying, for our patient, a refugee who had no insurance, has no family in the States, and to make matters worse. . . spoke no English, sat hunched over from pain caused by constipation.
Yes, medicine could help this patient, and I’m sure it did. But he needed more. In fact, the physician’s prescribed treatment was instructed to his case worker: “Find some people to stop by his apartment, spend some time with him, and help cook him a healthy meal!”
You see, it wasn’t a problem of financial poverty. This patient suffered from poverty of all sorts of other relationships! Having been in the states less than two weeks with no family, no friends, and no one to be with, there was plenty of room for restoration.
My having grown up in a financially blessed family, society, and Church, it is easy to view poverty in one way: the lack of material possessions. As a church, it can be easy to give materials away to the poor, pray blessings over them, and call it a day. This method of help is easily measured and has a nice ring to it: “We went to this poor area of town, gave away certain material gifts that can help improve the resident’s lives, built a certain amount of homes for them to live better lives in, and oh ya- we also provided them food because they were hungry.”
“…he called his disciples to a life of greater financial poverty…”
Those are good and needed things. . .but only sometimes because this type of aid only helps with financial poverty.
What about the relational poverty that our neighbors are living in? As Christians, we are called to love people relationally as well as financially. It’s not glorious to forsake your own life, fight for other people’s lives spiritually, and equip others to do the same. But that’s what Christ did.
When Christ called his disciples, he didn’t walk up to them, seeing that they were poor, hand them some extra change, or even build them a better house! In fact, he called his disciples to a life of greater financial poverty! What!? Wow. And asking them to live life with him, he revealed to them who God was. He fought for their lives spiritually, and because of it, the poor became rich, and followed him.
“…he happens to live in our neighborhood!”
So last week, as our group was rewinding after a day at the clinic, the same patient from the clinic happened to run into us because he happens to live in our neighborhood! Wow, it’s amazing how the Lord sets things up. As we invited him into our house, he looked much better than previously, but still spoke no English. And it’s here where our CHI team was able to start to love him, know him, and bless him. We are not great at it, but it’s a beginning. And as we will get to know him more over our next few weeks, I pray that the spirit of God will move through him and us, and our poverty of relationships will be restored.