I Am Broken


A sea of Ethiopians sit across from the tables. One by one they come to us, the several nurses that assess their medical needs and direct them to appropriate clinics. In between patients, my eyes scan the faces–the people who wait patiently, almost reverently for free medical help. They cannot afford to pay for a normal clinic which costs 50 cents.

I gaze directly into their eyes as each approaches me. Some respond with downward glances, with humility, and sometimes shame.

This is my way of retaining human dignity. I tenderly touch shoulders and arms as I determine needs and take blood pressures and pulses. Unlike my Master, I inwardly recoil from the depravity before me… so many unclean hands and bodies, unbrushed teeth, unwashed clothes… open sores… so much disease and neglect… I stifle gag reflexes and silently pray to continue in the compassion of Christ. I feel so wicked, so removed from the plight of the poor.


I have a choice to press on in a bubble of aloofness or allow the depth of this poverty to penetrate my soul.

My forefathers worked hard to scratch out an existence that would enable our family to rise on the ladder of success, staving away this kind of poverty. But none of us can take pride in human triumph over anything. 

Pride and injustice create lifestyles like these. But faith overcomes injustice. Faith and justice reside side by side. Injustice must be righted by those who believe.

Faith will die if injustice reigns.

The truth is that I live an inch away from this kind of degradation, except for the grace of God. My redeemer sees me as these — desperate, needy, stained.

I am broken.

I must not remain distant. I must embrace it, sweat in it, mingle in it. I must pass through the humility of the cross before Resurrection Day.

Clean and healthy bodies with new clothes do not lift the depravity of poverty and disease. To eat steak and lobster in pleasure and feel no pain or need to reach out to those who scour for nourishment from garbage is the worst kind of degradation there is.

The blood of God ran from the cross to all humankind. It is what brings life that propagates life with the kind of hope that lifts to new levels of living.

Soften my heart, oh God. Change me. Make me like you who stooped to lift me from the dung heap of self righteousness and self reliance. You didn’t recoil at my unclean state. You expressed your love in the most extravagant way to rescue me.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.”

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Bruce says:

    Bonnie, on this day of your blog, you express thoughts similar to what I feel coursing through my head and veins everyday. The incredible disparities that exist in our world appear to be beyond comprehension. In the finite flesh of my daily world these disparities seem unjust, unfair and even evil. I know the prince of this world has his hold in both worlds, the poor and the fabulously wealthy, stirring the pot and trying to frustrate the advent of true Liberty and Justice in both worlds. I often contemplate what our Father thinks as He sees His children in both worlds walking through their daily lives, so extremely opposite in just about every conceivable way, and yet so very much still His beloved children whom His Son was worthy to shed His blood for them ALL.

    Also, I am often reminded in scripture that in Jesus’ day the lives of those fisherman in Galilee and the shopkeepers of Jerusalem and Bethlehem were little different from what you have re-experienced in Addis. Jesus would be perfectly comfortable in a such a city. It is OUR world of high octane consumption and materialism that would be most foreign to Him, I think.

    I am so GRATEFUL that our Father measures our hearts and not our comfort levels. If He did, we of this minority world of wealth, would surely fail the test.

    Some days I try to forget, here in the seemingly upper crust of the worlds physical wealth, those masses of billions who live without the rudimentary basics for physical life, but I cannot. These are fleshly moments when I do not want to think about being separated from my wife and children, and the comfort, peace and security we have so abundantly. Faithfully, the Spirit always brings me back to the hauntingly simple and challenging basic words Jesus spoke to all of us followers, “when you do this to the least of these MY BRETHERN, you also do it unto Me.” How I ache more than this shell of life to serve Messiah, my Lord, my Redeemer, my Savior, my Liberator, my Friend. By serving and helping those less fortunate in someways than I, I get to serve the One who paid the price for my sanity, my very life, and my future eternal. And in return, I get to be along side my Friend and hopefully bring at least some bit of physical comfort and improvement to our Brethern. The things of the Spirit confound the things of this world – Thank God.

  2. Bonnie says:


    Thank you for taking the time to eloquently express your thoughts. The Lord has been preparing you for the right pathway. And yes, there will be sacrifice in separation. That is hard. But hard too, to bear the suffering of humankind.

    It will be worth it. I know you know.

    You are such a beautiful brother and a good friend,

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