Series: Summer Medical Institute 2013

by Katherine Smith July 5, 2013

It was our first day of ministry and we were all excited to go out into the community. As I was getting ready, I had ripped the tags off of a crisp new pair of scrubs. I was here to help the poor and I wanted everything to be in order. My nails had been trimmed and painted, my makeup was on, and my new scrubs fit perfectly indeed I was the epitome of a healthcare professional. My professional demeanor was a sharp contrast to the neighborhood around me. “THESE people are poor. THESE people don’t know anything about health. THESE people need my help in being educated,” I thought. It is true that the average income per family in the inner city is $17,000; and it is true that drugs and alcohol are accessible on just about every corner. It is also true that only 43.7% of the 2010-11 school year were on track to graduate in 4 years. It was true that this community needed help. I looked in the mirror”I am doing a good thing by helping THESE people. I am going to teach this breed of poor, uneducated, unhealthy people, and surely God was going to use me to do so, after all, I am doing Him a service,” I thought. By now, I knew exactly what to do. We have learned about the interview sheet, blood pressure, glucose sticks, asthma, HIV, and so much more. As I gathered my equipment together to head out, I said a prayer. “Lord use me today to do Your will; and allow me to see the people as you do. ” And then it happened. The first person I met was a 70 year old woman and her grown pit bull. My eyes darted for a way around her as I thought pit bulls were particularly dangerous dog. This elderly woman saw me and headed full force towards me. Our eyes met. “Don’t ever judge a dog by their breed!” she said, “This dog is the best thing that ever happened to me! You don’t know what love is until you’ve experienced this breed!” I smiled and stretched out my hand towards the dog. The pit bull was only to eager to respond to the affection. He showered me with kisses and a rapidly waggings of his tail as he welcomed me into his domain. I spoke with the woman for awhile and then we said our goodbyes. But her words stuck with me. I think it is humbling to think of all the preconceived notions that some Christians can have when we see a community like the inner city of Philadelphia We can see the poverty, the crime, the ignorance .but if we really stop to see these people as God does, we will hear the voice of a little old lady saying “don’t ever judge a dog by their breed” and don’t ever judge a people by their statistics. As for that crisp new scrub uniformit’s worn now, and perhaps a little bit bruised. It no longer smells fresh or has the creases of a new shirt; but that’s ok. Perhaps it reflects my heart a bit; and how in one 4 hour afternoon, my heart has grown up a little. This I know: There is a voice here, a community here. There is much to be learned, and if you are listening, you will hear what they have to say “THESE PEOPLE are the best thing that ever happened to me! You haven’t experienced love until you have experienced this breed!” Katherine Smith

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