(Journal: L’viv, Ukraine: September, 1999) From the cancer ward, we moved to the prison cells holding the tuberculosis patients. The emaciated bodies of the men packed into those rooms told stories in split seconds of lives being lived out in centuries. Some of the TB patients were too weak to even sit up to receive the gifts. Meeche simply laid the items on their beds close to their heads.
On our way out, I gave the hardened nurse with the kind eyes my card and had Meeche explain to her that if she would like, I would be willing to work with her in the future to see that she receives essential supplies for her clinic, such as needles, syringes, bandages, ointments, and catheters. She tried to communicate with us that in the prison clinic, she really has nothing at all to work with.
We returned down the steps, out through the maze of locked doors and hallways, and into the room with the dirty window. The guard behind the window slid our passports back out under the glass one at a time. When we got outside into the sunshine, I slipped the flash attachment off my camera and deliberately put it back into my brown camera bag as the guards watched. I was careful not to take any pictures once we left the prisoners cells. I knew the guards appreciated my not pressing my luck.
As we drove out through the heavy steel gates and back out onto the street, I was trying to sort through a lot of thoughts and emotions. Previously, I hadn’t thought too much about medical conditions in Third World prisons. I suppose it would be a full-time job just supplying medical goods to those wretched, hopeless places throughout the world.
Wednesday, September 22
Lloyd and Biggy came to the hotel at 6:30 this morning to take me to the L’viv International Airport. The old Russian military plane started up its two noisy prop engines, and away we flew to the capital city of Kiev. From Kiev, my Lufthansa flight took me to Frankfurt.
Why would Project C.U.R.E. go to the Ukraine to help people we don’t know? We have to walk a fine line in places like Iraq, North Korea, Cuba, Pakistan, and other parts of the world we would never have the opportunity to enter if we weren’t a purely humanitarian organization. “A full cup takes a steady hand!” I’m very aware that one glaring mistake on my part, and someone seeking vengeance against America could kill me at any time.
But Project C.U.R.E. is so much more than a humanitarian organization. It would be sufficient reward if we just gave a cup of cold water in the name of a loving God to people in the eighty countries where we work. But we have distributed millions and millions of dollars’ worth of life-saving medical goods in the name of God and have fulfilled a role not many people easily distinguish. It’s subtle, but it’s the most effective form of promotion. We create and lend influence and clout where it matters most. And Project C.U.R.E. is better at it than any organization I’m aware of.
The Hurleys, the Kangs, and the Pyatnichkos in Ukraine have been pouring their lives into ministering to the people of Ukraine. But their efforts are limited in many respects to the arithmetic of one plus one plus maybe one more. But by enlisting the help of Project C.U.R.E., their efforts suddenly have the potential of expanding exponentially. They themselves, plus their noble desires, are infused with clout and influence and credibility, which will literally catapult their effectiveness by quantum bounds.
When Project C.U.R.E. goes to a location, meets with top government officials, and suggests that millions of dollars’ worth of life-saving medical supplies could be pumped into their country, the officials totally drop their defensiveness and accept Project C.U.R.E. They know they’re responsible to care for their citizens, but they don’t have the money or the means to supply that medical care. And here Project C.U.R.E. comes offering help so they can become heroes to their own people. It would be foolish and counterproductive for them to refuse our help.
Perhaps the key element in the whole process is that Project C.U.R.E. refuses to take credit for the help. Instead, we strategically transfer our clout and resources to those already on the scene. If those officials should question whether our offer of help will be backed up with action, all they have to do is wait a brief period of time until the first container arrives with the valuable cargo inside. Suddenly the local entities that have been struggling for recognition and acceptance in the community become heroes, and the doors swing wide open on a local and national level, and avenues of permission, acceptance, and clout are made available to them.
God has been eager to bless Project C.U.R.E. and multiply the effectiveness because we have been willing to empower local organizations and institutions to become incredibly effective as we keep a low profile rather than seeking the limelight ourselves.
The Hurleys, the Kangs, and other ministries have been trying to break into the Ukrainian culture and the professional and political framework for years, but they are seen as outsiders. But with the assistance of millions of dollars’ worth of medical goods for the common people, an enhanced image for local and national leaders, and personal accomplishment for the hamstrung medical community, the Hurleys and the Kangs will be celebrated as people who are able to make miracles happen so that everyone can become winners.
It’s no wonder that in Andijon and Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Santa Cruz, Bolivia; Nouakchott, Mauritania; and a thousand other places, the formula has worked so well. Because of this unique formula, God is being honored, his kingdom is getting more exciting, and eternity will be different from what it might have been.
Discouraged workers are getting to take a second breath, and burnout is diminishing because God has chosen to bless Project C.U.R.E. with such a simple piece of the puzzle. In the business world, we refer to it as leverage, in which a small object placed in a strategic position can move a very large object with a desired result.
Why would I be willing to leave the home and family I love and travel all over the world to help people I don’t even know? Because I want to be faithful to the gift of the simple formula he gave Project C.U.R.E. to bring multiplied results to his kingdom. Many churches will never understand what we do, and many folks miss the spiritual connection between a humanitarian organization like Project C.U.R.E. and eternal goodness. But the impact of Project C.U.R.E. around the world is empirically measurable. God is blessing our work, and those subtle results will be the only rewards needed forever.
That’s why I do what I do when I’m far away from home. What an honor and a privilege!