His name was Bec, he was a 10-year-old Cambodian with a skin disease. The disease means his skin can rupture at any time; you can not pick him up because his skin will tear.
His feet look like clubs because the skin has grown back so many times. His fingers are grown together, except for his thumb and index finger every day they rip them apart so they can work.
Bec was not the only person we saw suffering in Cambodia, there are many people scarred from acid, maimed by land mines and suffering from disease and malnutrition are common. Like so many corners of the Third World the innocent suffer because of the failures of others.
The thing that made Bec special was his attitude. He never complained; he was a happy kid. He wanted to make sure we said grace at every meal and he always had a smile for you and wanted to shake your hand.
I was so proud of Bec. At one point during a five-hour drive, in spite of bleeding gums, open sores where his clothes rubbed his skin and the general condition of his body that meant constant pain, he continued to be cheerful.
I am afraid I did not do quite so well, the fourth and fifth hours of cramped conditions had me a little less than cheerful.
The key to Bec’s story is he just keeps going forward ... he has no choice. He has found hope in Jesus and he is a loving, caring and genuinely happy person. He is not out looking for someone to blame. He is just trying hard to make his life work.
Upon my return to the United States we have jumped right back into helping families and individuals with needs. Some of their stories are interesting, some are amazing.
Here are a few general thoughts for some during the holiday season:
· Giving your name three different ways so you get three food boxes could be considered dishonest.
· It is just possible that losing the eighth job in two years is not all the bosses’ fault.
· If you can’t afford to pay your electric bill, you probably can’t afford a lawyer to sue the electric company because you feel they are charging too much again.
· Spending your paycheck on booze and cigarettes and then insisting the church give you food is irresponsible.
· Charitable organizations exist to help people, but we cannot give what we do not have.
· If you need to lose 100 pounds or more, I sincerely doubt you are starving.
If you are truly in need, there are many who work hard to help you. The government does not give you their money, they give you the money that came from other hardworking taxpayers. They give you our money. When you abuse the system, you take money from the rest of us.
This may seem insensitive to some, but I beg to differ.
There is a story about a man pretending to drown. While the lifeguard was in the water going to his aid, another person needed rescue.
The person having the real crisis drowned while the lifeguard was distracted.
The season we are in is about giving to those who are genuinely suffering.
I am praying God will meet you in this season.
For those who have created your own pit, I pray God will give you the fortitude to fill in the hole. I pray that everyone would find someone less fortunate and give to them.
I remember a group of families that got together and had a bring-what-you-have potluck. They had very little, but together they blessed each other.
I pray for more Becs in this world, people who are busy counting their blessings instead of complaining about their problems ... the people who accept the things they cannot change and have the courage to change what they can.
Jesus came into the world to rescue us from our sins, it is the greatest gift given: his life so we could have life.
Another gift he gives us is to teach us to take responsibility for our lives. It is possible that our problems are to a large extent self inflicted. The only real solution is to do the hard work of change.
Many local churches offer classes and training for self-improvement. Kenai Peninsula College, Social Services and others offer classes.
Take responsibility and help yourself.
Robert Reasner is senior pastor at Abundant Life in Sterling at Mile 81.5 of the Sterling Highway. He can be reached at 262-7266, e-mailed at email@example.com. or online at www.abundantlifealaska. org.
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