Not always, but sometimes, God has given me the grace to see His mighty hand moving even as it is moving. Such is the case now as I face, with Him, the first real medical challenge of being on the mission field.
About two weeks ago I was diagnosed with a medical condition that is compromising the quality of my life, ability to be active and if it becomes extreme my life itself. This condition has likely been coming on slowly over more than a year of time. Many early signs were quite minor and I remember saying more times in the last year, “I am just not 25 years old anymore”. I was sure I was beginning to feel my age. I accepted it. Didn’t take the stairs when an elevator was available for multiple floor climbs – simple things that seemed quite manageable in America.
Then we arrived in Cambodia.
I have had few experiences in my life where I have seen God so alive as I do here in the work to Rescue|Restore|Reintegrate|Prevent child sex trafficking. There are billboards across the U.S. proclaiming “GOD IS NOT DEAD HE IS ALIVE” but most everyday here I see people billboards. Young people who are coming alive in Christ and seeing hope in their future. Preparing themselves for a life of serving their Savior.
To digress a little let me describe two “people billboards” I see. One young Khmer man moved to Korea for 2 years to earn enough money to come back to his home city to build a small school and pay teachers to teach children. A second young man who refuses to take a really good full time job with his employer and accepts part-time instead because he wants to lead a small church on the riverside in a village over-run with traffickers. I could go on and on. In a country alive with sin, God is showing Himself bigger, stronger, more AWESOME as He raises up these “people billboards”.
Now, back to my smaller point. When we arrived in Cambodia we faced an environmental stress like we had never known. One of my doctors said to me, “in America, you live in a air conditioned home, drive in an air conditioned car, eat and shop in air conditioned places. That is not the life in Cambodia.” I made some adjustments to my routine but the course of events that fell into place aggravated my symptoms beyond ignoring them or viewing them as the result of getting older.
A droopy eye, some facial and muscle weakness, and at times significant fatigue pressed us for some medical answers. Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with MG, Myasthenia gravis. The search began. What is causing this condition. I had just completed my routine physical with the best numbers I had had in years. To make a long story short, we entered an accelerated diagnostic program at an international hospital nearby in Bangkok. Diagnosis complete. I have an enlarged thymus gland. It needs to come out.
Here is the unexpected blessing. In obeying God in his guidance to come to Cambodia, a condition that was slowly progressing in the US as my thymus enlarged, emerged earlier. Perhaps at a more treatable stage. The conditions of heat, some standard meds used to treat such things as Montezuma revenge etc all intensified my symptoms resulting in me seeking medical attention sooner than I would have in a more comfortable environment. But, in the more comfortable environment my thymus gland would continue to grow. It is not the environment that caused the growth, it is the environment that caused me to notice the symptoms and that there was something wrong.
So, I have received an unexpected blessing in coming to Cambodia. The underlying condition was not able to continue unnoticed. Scripture always brings enormous insight and comfort. I am so thankful for pastors who have encouraged memorizing passages. They come to mind when needed and are such a blessing. This has come to my mind over and over in these last few weeks:
“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:6 ESV)”
Our path has been made straight. Not in human eyes because we have crossed the ocean back and forth to get to this spot. But, those changes experienced here result in earlier diagnosis. We will return to the states 22 September and prepare for surgery tentatively the following week. We are hopeful that a simplified removal will occur but that requires the thymus be just a bit smaller than the diagnostic images show. If the simplified process is used, my recovery will be significantly shortened and our return to Cambodia can be more swift – weeks perhaps instead of a few months with the more invasive method.
But, the prospects are good. With removal, my MG is most likely to be medically manageable with monitoring much like a diabetic. It should not affect our ability to see the life billboards and encourage more to come a live in our work in ending sex-trafficking.
You, this group of blog followers, are our supporters. Many financially, most with prayer support. We know it. We are grateful. And we wanted you to know what is happening to these two Incurable Fanatics.
Blessings to you all. Stay tuned for more great stories of God at work to spread His name and grace to all who will hear.