Beautiful Smiles, Beautiful Feet

by Laura Layer January 22, 2016

She had the best smile I have ever seen. It was not so much the look of it, but the story of how she got it back after so many years that was truly amazing. The Tenth short-term team was visiting partners in rural Asia that included seeing the fruit of medical care by some doctors we support. We had just been reviewing the surgeon’s recent cases, seeing all of the “before and after” pictures: cleft palates repaired, fingers released from contractures. Then we saw the photos of the burn patients, with this one teen girl’s case being the most dramatic. The “before” photos on the computer showed the gross deformity of a tragic cooking accident years ago: extensive scars of her lower face, chin, and upper chest so deforming that her chin was stuck to her breast bone, her face perpetually looking down, her mouth gaping open and drooling, only able to drink and eat soft foods. Her upper arms were also scarred down onto her chest wall, limiting their use. The images of the operation were also pretty jarring, with lots of blood and skin grafts; the Tenth visitors were duly impressed.

“I don’t have my ‘after’ pictures of her yet,” the surgeon said as we stepped out of his office into the hallway to tour the rest of the ward. “So she’s still here? Could we see her in person?” “The nurses told me she went out with her family for a walk, so probably not.” But just then the elevator doors opened and there she was, smiling, beaming, head held high! She was extensively bandaged, but her beautiful face was completely free, in more ways than one. All of the Tenth visitors said, practically in unison, “You look fantastic!” which needed to be translated because she did not speak English. She giggled a broken “thank you” and made her way back to her hospital bed with her parents.

That visit was a few years ago, but our church still supports this team in Asia, which now includes two families from Tenth, a third family from the Philadelphia Presbytery, and a fourth family who did all of their medical training here (they all met each other through Medical Campus Outreach—three couples met and married through MCO—all great stories). They are all involved in various stages of language learning, home schooling their children, and practicing as much medicine as they can through home visits. They also have a loose association with a new local hospital that providentially has many national staff who are “like-minded”; this partnership has occasionally allowed for more extensive opportunities similar to the surgery described above.

But this little outpost of the Philadelphia Presbytery needs prayer! Praise goes up for the national licenses granted in the past two years for the new local hospital and for our medical team. Everyone can now practice medicine in Asia legally! However, some government officials are asking that nationals and Americans not practice medicine together, especially if the good news is at the forefront (which it was, for a time). So our friends have had to take a step back while they organize themselves into a separate clinic mainly for westerners in the area. It is hoped that ultimately both this future clinic and the local, like-minded hospital can work collegially but in parallel. Tenth’s team can foresee lots of mutual referrals, both physical and spiritual health related, that will enhance the ministries and long-term survival of both medical entities. They may even be able to occupy the same building.

Most of this team in Asia you know! They heard the call to global outreach while sitting in the pews next to you! They are fond of calling themselves “those with beautiful feet” as they often have to communicate discreetly about their work. So please meditate on the passage below as you lift them up in prayer and support the Global Outreach ministry of Tenth Church with your time, talents, and resources.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Isaiah 52:7).

The work of our partners in Asia and our other global partners is funded by the Outreach budget.

Short-term trips are being planned for 2016. If you’d like to encourage our global partners in person and/or are traveling internationally for work, email Kari to discuss the possibilities.


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