Howdy again, everybody!
Last time you heard from me it was a blog update of day-happenings; now it’s time for my blog reflection a.k.a. some musings on the country of Nepal and the impact this experience has had on me. Let’s dive in!
I’ve been thinking a lot about cities on this trip.
The concept of “city” really hit me after landing Day 1 in Kathmandu. And by “hit me”, I mean an “up-and-smashed-me-in-the-face-repeatedly” kind of experience. The sights, sounds, smells (yes, especially the smells!), tastes, and sensations of Nepal’s capital city were overwhelming! Here’s Kathmandu in a sound-byte:
Bustling, busy, smelly, dirty, dusty, noisy, crowded, buying, selling, speedy, flowing, cheerful, standing-around, sprawling, always-going, always-waiting, stopping, starting, driving, staring, heart-pound, swirling, honk!, shaken, exposed, murky, greeting, smiling, hauling, screech!, chatting, eyes-open, ears-open, lungfuls of mmm and woah! and [cough], skipping, hand-in-hand, clinging, rattled, swerving, clunk!, dancing, singing, hollering, building, rebuilding, offering, seeking, up-at-dawn, winding, old, ancient, white-knuckle riding, new, colorful, plastered, crumbly, worn-out, polished, shiny, cracked, social….
Now say all those words at max volume, backwards, at double-speed, while crossing your eyes… and THAT is what Kathmandu is. At least a taste of it.
So that was my first city experience. A place of contrasts – of fast and slow, of coming and going, of up and down, of rich and poor, of friendly and wary, of young and old, of ends and beginnings. And a place of life. Absolutely brimming – more than that, overflowing – with life. That’s really what makes a city a city: Life. Not clumps of buildings or jumbled streets or stone or brick or wood or what-have-you on the materials science side of things. Cities are clumps of people and the words they share, jumbled or not, and the things they do with or for or against one another. Cities are places of life.
And where there is life there is God. Cities are places where God is at work.
It comes as no surprise, then, that the story of the Bible is also the story of a city. The City of God. It comes in four parts: the perfect, the old, the now, and the new.
The perfect City was the Garden of Eden. God walked the earth with His people.
The old City was the historical city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants, the Israelites (i.e., the Old Testament). A people and a place set apart by God to witness to the surrounding nations. God dwelt in the Temple of Jerusalem.
The City now is the body of believers: the church (i.e. the New Testament). Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross tore the curtain of the Temple in two: the presence of God now dwells with and within all who call on the name of Jesus.
The new City will be “the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God… [in which] there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev. 21). God will once again walk the earth with His people “from every nation, tribe, people and language” (Rev. 7). That is the glorious day we ache for – when all things will be made new and the City of God will be firmly established forever and ever.
But that will be then; we still live in the City of God now.
The question that confronts me now, as a 20-year-old Pre-Med student, is this: as a citizen in the City of God (the church), in what way will I join in the work God is doing in His Kingdom – that is, the entire world?
Matthew 5:14, 16 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden… In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”.
The goal is to expand the City until it encompasses all of God’s Kingdom – so that one day “every knee will bow and every tongue confess”. In the words of Jesus: “Go forth and make disciples of all nations”. Given my career plans for the future, my calling will be to expand the City by “shining my light” before others as a Christian physician in such a way that people will “glorify my Father in heaven”.
What difference will faith in Jesus (vs. a secular approach) make in my career in medicine? Two things this trip in Nepal has shown me: healing and hope.
When a diagnosis is impossible or no treatment is viable, then Christian physicians can, by prayer, call upon the Great Physician, God, to work His healing power. The mission statement on the wall of the United Mission Hospital in Tansen (where we spent a week shadowing) acknowledged this very clearly: “We Serve. Jesus Heals”. This concept of healing prayer is very new to me, and has been my food for thought while on this trip in Nepal. It is not something that I am very comfortable with, truth be told, but it is very real – as I have been persuaded by the testimonies and personal experiences of both group members and people we have met. I will continue struggling with this concept of healing prayer – and difficult questions like “why doesn’t it work every time?” – as I mature in my faith and prepare for a career in medicine.
The other thing that will mark me as a Christian physician is hope. Confronted by the misery, suffering, and seemingly pointless sickness in the world, I will fall back on God as “my refuge and strength”. I will have to let God carry all the hurt and the pain so that I don’t have to – just as Jesus bore the cross and the burden of all sin so that I don’t have to. Otherwise, I will inevitably burn out. I firmly believe this is what has allowed the doctors at the United Mission Hospital to carry on so strongly and consistently. Their trust in the Lord. Relying on Him instead of their own knowledge or fortitude.
So there you go. How will I serve in the City of God now, in this present age? By being a Christian physician who facilitates healing, by medicine and by prayer, and who carries hope (to share) with him wherever he goes. Where will I go? This trip has greatly opened my eyes to the joys and sorrows of medical missions. While I may not end up overseas, I do certainly feel a stronger calling to serve those in rural or impoverished areas lacking adequate medical resources. Right now, thanks to some words of wisdom from a doctor in Amp Pipal, I’m leaning heavily toward a career in primary care (pediatrics, family medicine, or internal medicine).
But only God truly knows the future that lies in store for me. So I’ll do my best to follow His lead, wherever that takes me. Whatever city here on Earth that I end up in, I know He will have a purpose for me there. Because God is at work in every city – in every community, in every family, in every person, in all the places of life.
No matter where. No matter what.
God is at work.
In Nepal. In the United States. Everywhere else, too.