Marut's heart raced as his feet tore down the dark road in front of him. It had been a weary day of labour, and now his lean body strained as he flew from the wild dogs closing the gap between them. These were not domesticated animals. These were scavenger dogs, grown cruel by struggle for survival.As the pack drew closer, Marut had to make a quick decision. He scanned the horizon before him looking for a way of escape. He saw an electric pole some distance ahead. He altered course, bolting directly toward the pole. As Marut reached it, he scampered up the metal pole just out of reach of the vicious pack of dogs.
Marut climbed further up the pole, creating a more comfortable distance between him and the growling hounds below. As he inched toward the inky night sky, an invisible danger dangled just above, more destructive than the danger below. While Marut heaved his exhausted body up, a broken power line flicked his chest. A bolt of electricity engulfed his body, flinging Marut off the pole and onto the ground.
Marut lay immobile with huge sections of his body burnt and one leg broken. The dogs barked wildly around him, alerting nearby residents. Some sympathetic bystanders rushed him to a hospital.
Two weeks later, GFA-supported Pastor Daha stood at a public bus stop. Currents of pedestrians passed by, some stopping to take literature from him. Many faces in the crowd showed the strain of unspoken cares and burdens.
In his ministry, Pastor Daha was often among hurting people. Twice a week he would visit those living with leprosy—cleaning and bandaging wounds, praying for pain to subside and offering love through a listening ear.
As Pastor Daha stood at the bus stop, his phone buzzed in his pocket, calling his attention from the masses around him to the single unknown number scrolling across his phone's screen. When he answered, a pleading voice urged Pastor Daha to come to a nearby village to see a man who was critically wounded and close to death. Pastor Daha gathered his things and hurried to the nearby village where the injured man lived.
Following the instructions given by the person over the phone, Pastor Daha approached a small building. Peering through the doorway of the simple one-room home, the stench of injured flesh enveloped Pastor Daha like a cloud. He knew the smell of these wounds intimately—decaying skin common among those with leprosy.
Marut lay in anguish on his bed as his wife and children looked on hopelessly. He had spent 10 days in the hospital and had been released two days prior. His family despaired of his life.
God brought Pastor Daha to Marut at the critical juncture between deterioration and recovery. Though Marut's wounds were not life threatening with proper treatment, his family did not know how to care for him, so he was quickly approaching death.
Pastor Daha cleans and applies medicine to Marut's burns. Before Pastor Daha's medical care, Marut's family feared for his life.
This situation, strange to us, highlights the astounding gaps in medical care available in rural Asia. For instance, in the United States, for every 10,000 people, there are 117.8 skilled health care workers.
- That is one for every 100 people. In Southeast Asia there is a regional average of 25.7 skilled health care workers per 10,000 people.
- In Bangladesh, the stats are even more sobering—there are only six skilled health care workers for every 10,000 people in the country.
- That's one doctor or nurse for every 1,600 people. How can one doctor see that many people? The answer? He can't.
These [national health coverage] failings result in very large numbers of preventable deaths and disabilities in each country; in unnecessary suffering; in injustice, inequality and denial of basic rights of individuals. The impact is most severe on the poor.
- World Health Organization
GFA-supported pastors and workers are uniquely present in these communities filled with great need. Just like the Good Samaritan in Jesus' parable, who could not pass by a man bruised and beaten in the streets, local pastors and field workers make it part of their ministries to care for the physical needs of those in their communities.
While not skilled health care workers, these pastors and field workers have two essential qualities to help meet health needs in poor and rural areas: They are present and willing.
Marut's predicament is common in developing areas: There may be access to a hospital in a life-threatening situation, but there is no care available for non-life-threatening issues—either because of a lack of health workers or a lack of financial resources from the patient.
A 2015 report on inequities in health access across the globe, compiled by the International Labour Organization, reveals that rural areas lack the medical access of urban areas, especially in developing countries.
Watch this video, as Tony shares how GFA-supported Medical Camps are changing lives:
"The most affected countries also face the highest levels of poverty," summarizes Equal Times, a news outlet focusing on social justice. "The largest differences between rural and urban areas, however, exist in Asia."
While countries work hard to address the health care needs of their rural communities on a national level, GFA-supported field workers address the issue at a grassroots level, working with leprosy patients, conducting medical camps and providing health care training to women. Mostly, these Good Samaritans find plenty of opportunities to meet health needs in the local communities where they minister.
Because Pastor Daha was serving in Marut's area, he was available to provide the medical attention Marut desperately needed after being discharged from the hospital—probably saving his life!
Pastor Daha continued to visit Marut regularly, cleaning and dressing his wounds—as he had done for countless leprosy patients before. Marut grew grateful for the sincerity and faithfulness of Pastor Daha. He remembered many times in the past hearing about the God that Pastor Daha worshiped but without any interest. Now, as the pastor lovingly attended his wounds, wounds that even his family members were repulsed by, Marut's heart became knit together with this man of God.
Marut's wounds healed with the care of Pastor Daha, and now he and his family attend the local church led by the pastor who helped snatch Marut's life from the jaws of death.
The love and care given by GFA-supported national workers in times of great medical need are filling in the gap of inadequate health care resources, especially in rural and impoverished communities.
The World Health Organization reports, "These [national health coverage] failings result in very large numbers of preventable deaths and disabilities in each country; in unnecessary suffering; in injustice, inequality and denial of basic rights of individuals. The impact is most severe on the poor. … The poor also emerge as receiving the worst levels of responsiveness—they are treated with less respect for their dignity, given less choice of service providers and offered lower-quality amenities."
Country leaders recognize the problems and are looking at solutions. In India, the health care market is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the business
This means health coverage is becoming available to more people who would otherwise not be able to afford treatment. As these strides are being made, national workers are present to offer the dignity, responsiveness and love that have not yet reached many poor rural families.
In Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan, two men came upon the injured person in the ditch and offered no help or compassion; they simply passed by on the other side of the road. Jesus contrasted their response to hurting humanity with that of the Good Samaritan, who, from his own pocket, bore the burden of the man's healing, reflecting the love of God for the world.
You can join GFA-supported national workers—these Good Samaritans—in doing good in lives like Marut's now and for eternity. You can hear Jesus say, "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me" (Matthew 25:34–36).