It's O.k. to Cry

When Dr. Douglas Jackson was appointed as President of Project C.U.R.E. in October, 1997, I was freed up to concentrate on developing our international strategies and partnerships. We were receiving more and more requests to visit needy countries to perform the required Needs Assessment studies. We were then shipping into over 80 countries and donating to hundreds of hospitals and clinics around the world. Douglas, who was gifted at developing public relations and expanding financial resources, was also doing a superb job of developing the procurement process, and creatively growing the volunteer base. New methods were developed for inventory control and warehouse procedures.

It was getting to the place where I would be traveling to Asia, then coming home, reloading my suitcase, traveling to Africa, hurrying home, reloading my suitcase, traveling to South America, speeding home once again to reload my suitcase. I remember, on one occasion, being in northern Pakistan on the Afghanistan border where it was very cold and needing to then travel directly to Entebbe, Uganda and Burundi via London. The clothes I needed for the cold mountains of northern Pakistan were not the same clothes I needed for hot, sweaty Burundi. So, Anna Marie packed another suitcase for me with the appropriate clothes and supplies in it, jumped on an airplane as soon as her school was dismissed on Friday afternoon, met me in London, and we exchanged suitcases and off I went again.

I was seeing more filth and cockroach- infested hospitals, more pain and misery and death and dying, more frustrated and discouraged doctors and nurses, and more needless suffering and stark hopelessness in 30 days than most people would see in a lifetime.

A thousand times my heart would be broken. Many times in my hospital tours I would have to hide around a corner just to cry. I would feel absolutely helpless and torn after I would see a small child who had fallen into an open cooking fire, lying on a soiled and sheetless hospital pad covered with dirty bandages. What I would hear from the sincere, but frustrated, nurse would be, “But, Dr. Jackson, we just don’t have any way to treat burn patients at this hospital. The child will die soon.”

In Somalia, I had stood beside the rickety hospital bed of a young boy. The lad had inadvertently stepped on a hidden land mine that had been left over from the tribal wars, and hisleg had been blown off just above the knee. But the neglected hospital was not able to even perform a respectable amputation, because it had been months and months since the hospital had any suture to stitch shut wounds of any size. The chances were very high that the lad would not even live to be a cripple. I cried.

I was quickly learning that it was all right to cry about the things that surely were also breaking the heart of God. 

My constant prayer was that God would protect me, but that, also, I would never get callused or cynical about what I was required to see day after day after day.