Seasons of change

October 18, 2017 at 6:00 AM

nestor-and-patient.jpgDr. Nestor Salavarria in Olancho, Honduras, offers care for a patient at Clinica El Buen Pastor.  (Photo by Dan Breen)

(Editor’s note: Dr. Bob LaFleur is a retired emergency room doctor from Grand Rapids, Mich. He is a member of a Partnership Ministry Team to Olancho, Honduras.)

Seasons of change

By Bob LaFleur

There is a very good chance that even those who don’t have much knowledge of the Bible are familiar with the words of King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes:  “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…”

Those of you who are old enough will even remember that the Byrds used these words in one of their most popular songs in the 1960s.

The clear message of this segment of Scripture is that nothing stays the same forever, and change is inevitable. Aside from the case of God and the immutability of Him and of His Word — few would question that this principle is universally true. And the older we get, the more personal examples each of us has of this reality.

Who of us hasn’t looked at old photographs and chuckled at the fashions that were once the rage? Do you remember the story of the scientist in the late 1800s who said that everything useful that could be invented had already been invented? Look at how quickly even society’s moral standards have changed in the last few decades.

For those of us in the medical field — particularly in the last generation —  change has been rapid and continues to proceed at a breakneck pace. As recently as 40 years ago, about all we could do for someone with a heart attack was to give him morphine for pain and put him on bed rest. Look where we are with treatment for that condition today.

The medical record consisted of almost illegible handwritten notes; the EMR wasn’t on anyone’s radar; and the process of making a diagnosis was based mainly on the history and physical exam, not on lab and radiology studies.  My, times have changed!

But this whole process of change also influences how we function as Partnership Ministry Team members and how we relate to our brothers and sisters in other cultures.

In most cases, a Luke Society ministry will begin with a fledgling director who is just starting to get a program off the ground.  He or she would need considerable assistance and direction as things begin. Over time, however, as the director and the ministry mature (as well as the PMT members), and as conditions change in the area in which the ministry is located, the ways in which we work with that ministry will need to change as well. Less hands-on; more listening; more prayer than money.

It may also require us to be prepared for situations in which changes at the local level can radically alter the need for a particular ministry and/or the nature of the ministry itself. What had been an effective vision in the past is not necessarily an effective vision for the future.  There is wisdom in knowing this and in being prepared for it, and we all seek wisdom as we live out our lives and perform our ministries.

However, we have to be careful in what we seek and ask for. King Solomon was given the incredible opportunity to ask God for anything, and he asked Him for wisdom. God granted Solomon wisdom beyond that given to any other man. Yet Solomon did not live wisely. He ignored God’s directives in many areas and lived an exceedingly hedonistic lifestyle.

As we are given insights and wisdom, may we not only know them and understand them, but may we be given the fortitude we need to put them into practice as well.

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