WHAT THEY SEE
by David Sisler
Doug Nichols Bothel was a missionary serving with Operation Mobilization in India. He contracted tuberculosis which forced him into a sanitarium for several months. He did not yet speak the language, but he tried to give Christian literature written in their language to the patients, doctors, and nurses. Everyone politely refused.
The first few nights Doug woke around 2:00 a.m. coughing. One morning during his coughing spell, he noticed one of the older and sicker patients across the aisle trying to get out of bed.
The old man sat up on the edge of the bed and tried to stand, but in weakness fell back into bed. The man finally fell back into bed exhausted, crying softly.
The next morning it was apparent what the man had been trying to do. He had been trying to get up and walk to the bathroom. The stench in the ward was awful.
Other patients yelled apparent insults at the man. Angry nurses moved him roughly from side to side as they cleaned up the mess. One nurse even slapped him. The old man curled into a ball and wept. The next night Doug again woke up coughing. He noticed the same old man across the aisle sit up and again try to stand. Like the night before, he fell back whimpering.
Doug did not want to awaken in the morning to the aroma of soiled sheets, so he got out of bed and went over to the old man, smiled, put his arms under the man, and carried him to the facilities--they were nothing more than a hole in the floor.
He stood behind the man with his arms under the old fellow's armpits as he took care of himself. After he finished, he picked him up, and carried him back to his bed.
Before the old man sank into his bed, he kissed Doug on the cheek, smiled, and said something the missionary couldn't understand.
The next morning another patient woke the missionary and handed him a steaming cup of tea. He motioned with his hands that he wanted a tract.
As the sun rose, other patients approached and indicated they also wanted the booklets Doug had tried to distribute before. Throughout the day nurses, interns, and doctors asked for literature.
Weeks later an evangelist who spoke the language visited the sanitarium and discovered that several inmates and workers had put their trust in Christ as Savior as a result of reading the little booklets.
Those people were not reached by the ability to speak their language, or a persuasive talk. Doug simply took a trip to the bathroom.
William Harley finished medical school with a Ph.D., added a doctorate in theology, and then took his wife to Liberia where they served as medical missionaries. But when he built a church, except for he and his wife, no one came.
Shortly after arriving in Liberia, the Harleys had a baby boy. When their son was just over three-years-old he contracted a local disease. Despite all of his training and all of his prayers, Dr. Harley could not save the life of his son. The grieving father made a small casket for his little boy, put it on his shoulder, and headed for the burial ground alone.
As William Harley passed by, the local blacksmith asked, "What do you have in the box?"
"My little boy," he replied.
"Let me help you," the blacksmith said.
When they reached the burial ground, the doctor took out his Bible and started reading. Then he fell to the earth and sobbed with anguished tears. The blacksmith left the burial ground and circulated through the village, repeating one message, "He cries, he cries. He's just like us. He cries!"
The following Sunday the doctor and his wife went to the little church they had built, knowing that only the two of them would be there. When they walked in, to their astonishment the church was filled!
Years later when Dr. Harley was asked about how he had been prospered by the Lord in Liberia, he told about his little boy and the death.
"Oh, that's too bad," a friend said. "It's so bad you had to lose your boy to have a ministry with the natives."
Dr. Harley looked up and answered, "Wasn't that the way God did it?"
Telling other people about Jesus is not all that hard. It just takes living like Christ in front of them.
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 10/7/95
Copyright 1995 by David Sisler
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