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Thursday, September 22, 2011


Our first famine baby to reach Kijabe. Drought and war have interrupted the tenuous cycle of survival in NE Kenya and across her border in Somalia. Food prices have risen dangerously across the region, even though we are a decent distance from the most affected areas. But this week, in the wee hours of the morning, an aid agency dropped this tiny malnourished 3 month old off in our casualty department. Ayub was born in our neighboring chaotic country, 8th child in the family. Three had already died in their first months of life, so this time when his parents saw that he had a defect in his spine and was frail, they decided to trek to Dhaddab, a huge refugee-camp-tent-town on the Kenya side of the border. He was hospitalized there and then transferred to Kijabe wasted, infected, pencil-thin, and irritable, with pneumonia on top of his neurologic and nutritional issues. We stabilized him and began to uncover his underlying problems, which have affected his brain and make his prognosis very poor. But no child should die of hunger, and feeding is one thing we can do while we wait to see what God will heal in the rest of his body.

In contrast, a few meters away, five hundred bright promising multinational children study and play, learn and grow. This is Julia's class last week, and this morning about 30 of them showed up at our house for prayer and cinnamon rolls (a holy combination). They are the future of Africa, and our world, kids with hearts for the poor and with the physical and mental advantages to effect change. At first glance the gap between an RVA student and Ayub seems to be an immeasurably impossible chasm, and we walk the edge between these two worlds, back and forth, hour by hour.

And yet there is a common thread of experience which ties us all together, that of suffering. I think the strong turnout this morning was related to the tragic events of the week at RVA. One of our student health nurses, Loren Harrison, father of 8, died Thursday morning. He was in America this term for a short HMA while his 4th kid started college (3 older are fairly grown, 4 younger are students in elementary to high school). Sunday he had a headache and collapsed, and it turned out that he had massive intracranial bleeding from a cerebral aneurysm (abnormal blood vessel) that had been a dangerous silent threat and then finally burst. In spite of being near a good medical center in MN for care, in spite of being only 51, his life on this earth ended on Thursday. Loren was a man of constant good humor and cheer, who stood in as a father and strength for countless sick students as he worked here for the last decade. This is a small and close community, and such a loss reverberates throughout the students and staff.

We read Romans 8:17 this morning. As heirs of glory we are also heirs of suffering, walking the same path that Jesus did. It always comes as a surprise that godly people who serve others would suffer, even die. Yet if this was required of Jesus, how can we expect anything less?

So today as we prayed for the kids, and as I watch Ayub's mother stranded in this unfamiliar hospital days from home, surrounded by people whom she can not understand at all, I can only ask that the suffering brings us nearer to Jesus, makes us more aware of where He walked, and more complete in Him in the process.

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