Learn About The Act Of Caring
Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me. Matthew 25:40, NKJV
Doug Nichols describes it as “what seminary can’t teach.” It’s one of the lessons learned in the school of experience which is otherwise described as “the school of hard knocks.” In 1967, Doug, who founded a Christian ministry known as Action International Ministries, was serving as a missionary in India. When he contracted tuberculosis, he was eventually sent to a sanitarium to recuperate.
Though he was living on a support scale not much higher than the nationals who also were hospitalized in the government sanitarium, people thought that because he was an American he had to be rich. Doug said, “They didn’t know that…I was just as broke as they were!”
While he was hospitalized Doug tried unsuccessfully to reach some of the patients, but his efforts were generally met with rebuff. When he offered tracts or Gospels of John, he was politely refused. It was obvious that the patients wanted nothing to do with him or his God. Discouragement set in and Doug began to wonder why God had allowed him to be there anyway.
Doug would often be awakened in the night by the rasping sound of coughing, both his and others. But then, what would you expect in the TB ward of a sanitarium? Unable to sleep because of his raspy cough, early one morning Doug noticed an old man trying to sit on the edge of the bed, but because of weakness, he would fall back into bed. Exhausted, the old man finally lay still and sobbed. Early the next morning the scene was repeated. Then later in the morning, the stench which began to permeate the ward, certified the obvious: the old man had been unsuccessfully trying to get up and go to a restroom.
Says Doug, “The nurses were extremely agitated and angry because they had to clean up the mess. One of the nurses in her anger even slapped him. The man, terribly embarrassed, just curled up into a ball and wept.”
The next morning–again about 2:00 a.m.–Doug noticed the old man trying unsuccessfully to generate enough strength to get himself out of bed. This time, though, without thinking Doug got out of bed, went over to where the old man was, put one arm under his head and neck, the other under his legs, and gently carried him to the rest room. When he had finished, again Doug carried him back to his bed.
But what then happened is what makes the story. The old man, speaking in a language which Doug didn’t understand, thanked him profusely, and then… and then gently kissed him on the cheek.
The story doesn’t end there either. Eventually Doug drifted off to an uneasy sleep. In the morning he awakened to a steaming cup of tea served to him by another patient who spoke no English. After the patient served the tea, he made motions indicating that he wanted one of the tracts which Doug kept with him.
“Throughout the day,” says Doug, “people came to me, asking for the Gospel booklets. This included the nurses, the hospital interns, the doctors, until everyone in the hospital had a tract, booklet, or Gospel of John. Over the next few days,” he adds, “several indicated they trusted Christ as Savior as a result of reading the Good News!”
A final thought on today’s edition of Guidelines. The world doesn’t care how much you have or what you know; they want to know how much you care. “I simply took an old man to the bathroom,” says Doug, adding, “Anyone could have done that!”
Resource reading: Matthew 25:31-46