Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Global Vision of Faith and Service

In February, Loretta and I returned to Los Angeles to attend the annual Mission Doctors Auxiliary Benefit. The main reason for attending (besides being able to socialize with so many friends in L.A.) was to present the Msgr. Brouwers award to Dr. and Mrs. Edward Malphus. It was an honor for me to be able to present this award to such a deserving couple. Mary Lou has served as president of the Auxiliary, as well as co-chair of the Benefit many times. Ed has been president of MDA for the past ten years, and has led the organization through some very difficult times, and now has them on a very good financial path assuring financial security for many years to come. They have both been selfless in donating their time and talents (and many times their funds) in helping and leading MDA.

I made the comment that: Those of us who have made a commitment to serving in the missions have the easy job! It is easy because, it is a "one time decision". True, it is a big decision, but once that is made and we are in the missions, then we are "just doing our job." People that live and work in the US and are still so involved in all kinds of volunteer (missionary) work are the ones who have to make those decisions every week and every month. The decision to take time out of their busy schedules to go to meetings; to read background material; to visit with prospective missionaries, etc., takes an on-going commitment. For these reasons, it is indeed a pleasure to present the Msgr. Brouwers award, “Presented in Recognition of the embodiment of Msgr. Brouwers global vision of Faith and Service.” Congratulations Ed and Mary Lou and thank you for your dedicated service.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Just now I am reading a very old book by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “The Cost of Discipleship” – first published in 1937. He makes this statement: “First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.” It made me think about the situation of working as a missionary in a country where there are serious issues of civil rights. What are the “right positions” for the missionaries to take? Do we just keep our heads down and “not speak out?” and say, “I am here to do missionary work, and not to be political?” Is it “political” to point out severe civil rights abuses? On the one hand, IF we just keep quiet and say nothing about the atrocities, are we not being “silent approvers?” Are we, in fact, condoning what is happening? On the other hand, if we speak out, we then might well endanger ourselves and those we work with, even to the point of being imprisoned or worse. Most likely the least that would happen is that we would be quietly (or not so quietly) deported from the country and never allowed to return – and how does that benefit the people we are trying to help? I have never had a desire to be a martyr (I intensely dislike pain!), but it is an interesting dilemma. Perhaps the best solution is to be as Christ-like as possible, and show true love and compassion for ALL whom we come in contact with (even those responsible for the atrocities), and at the same time express our dismay and disapproval of the acts themselves, without naming names or pointing fingers.

There are many examples of missionaries working in countries where they became martyrs because of “speaking out” and trying to stand up for the civil rights of the very poor. Some of these examples are not that long ago in Central America—especially in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras.

Mission Doctors has always taken the position that they would NOT send doctors and their families into “dangerous” situations, and that is for sure the correct position. Still, over the years, those missionary doctors have found themselves in situations where abuses have occurred, and so the question still remains, “what to do?” I don’t have the answers; only the question. Maybe others will want to respond with their opinions?