In the mountains of Guatemala, they wait…poverty-stricken women needing hysterectomies, children with cleft palates, men with hernias and cysts.
For the past three years, Nurse Deb Cross of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., has been an answer to their prayers. She and more than 140 others are part of a medical mercy surgical team that travels to Guatemala each year, bringing health and healing to people who would otherwise simply suffer.
“The first two years I went, I was torn because it’s not a Christian group, per se,” Deb reflected. “Part of me was like, I go there and help them, but I’m not giving them anything lasting.”
That changed when she heard an LHF representative speak at her church (St. Paul Lutheran in Milan, Mich.), and he encouraged them to share LHF books when on short-term mission trips. The books would keep sharing the love of Jesus, he explained, long after the Americans returned home.
So as Deb packed her suitcase for her third journey to Guatemala, she included 25 copies of LHF’s Spanish edition of A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories. This time, she freely gave the books to children at the clinic who were either accompanying their parents or awaiting their own procedures.
“You cannot fathom the poverty these families live in, having only a dirt floor in their homes, a little hole in the ground where they go to the bathroom,” Deb said. “For them to receive a hardcover book, they would just light up and be so happy for it!”
The Bible books were immediately put to use. “I would bring the books out to the pre-op area outside, where they all sit in a tent while they’re waiting to go into surgery,” Deb recalled. “There must have been 12-15 kids who came running up who wanted one!
“My brother (who’s a surgeon) did his rounds one night, and he saw one little girl reading the stories to her mom, who was recovering from surgery. It was a real witness for him to see that, too,” she said.
“It’s a great thing, a privilege to go help these people and take care of them, and even more, to spread the Gospel,” Deb concluded.
To order books for your short-term mission trip or for local outreach ministry, click here.