I hadn't heard of the Fistula Hospital til a few weeks ago, but when a friend mentioned what it was, my curiousity led me to look it up on the internet. When small girls are thrust into poverty, often things get so ugly, that they are sold to husbands who are much older by parents who have reached desperation. For some, their parents never wanted them, so they grasp for the last shred of hope they have: an arranged marriage to what looks like a prosperous man. What it turns into is a glamourized type of child abuse, where ten and twelve year old children suffer sexual abuse at the hands of men who have multiple wives, concubines, and partners. These precious girls are exposed to diseases, but more importantly, often become pregnant as young as ten or eleven. Since their bodies are not ready for childbirth, these girls endure horrific obstructive labor, where the baby often dies. What the little girls are left with is a obstetric condition called a fistula, where they are unable to prevent incontinence. They become the unwanted. The outcasts. The untouchable. Imagine it.
I watched several ten and twelve year olds at church camp this week, tipping out of canoes, laughing and playing with their friends.
Across the world, there are ten and twelve year old girls huddled on dirty sidewalks. Sleeping in their own urine. Left to die an outcast, with no children, shunned by the 'husband' who proferred them such wealth and prosperity.
In Ethiopia, there are 100,000 women and little girls suffering from fistulas. There are 2 million women in the world suffering from fistulas right now. And all this is fixable. There is a hospital in Ethiopia who offers these women a simple medical procedure that will give them back their lives. Do you know how much it costs to give a ten year old her life back?
I was blown away. I want to be a nurse, and potentially a doctor someday. I have been enthralled by the new show Hopkins on ABC, where medical students work through the highs and lows of residency for the audience of America. And I realized how quickly our priorities can go awry. I want to be a doctor. Why? Is it the glamour? Is it because I want to help people? I heard a message from Louie Giglio recently where he asks "Have you had an encounter with Jesus? Have you REALLY?" I realized we can say all the right things...I can stream podcasts, I can read through my bible in a year. I can go to church three times a week and raise my hands in worship. But has God moved me? Has He shaken me to my core? I think that maybe He is working on it. Because when I read the stories of these girls in Ethiopia, girls who I might have been friends with when I was ten...I got uncomfortable. I got restless. I realized that if I become a doctor, I would HAVE to go to help those girls. I would have no option. That's how moved I was. My friend Daley Hake recently posted a blog about how we "are not what we do". He, a brilliant photographer, explained how he prays to be 'more than a brand', that he wants to be remembered for MORE. I want to be a nurse/doctor. But I want God to move me deep within. I want to sense His presence in the eyes of those girls as they get their lives back. I want God to overflow from me at my work. I want everything I do to be filtered through the realization that God is big enough. That I am not what I do. But that what I do must be overflowing from an Encounter with a Saviour.
So I will watch.
I will wait.
I will let God move me.
And as I sleep tonight, I will remember that across the ocean, a little girl in Ethiopia sleeps too, waiting for an encounter with her Saviour too.
Watching for God. Maybe He's closer than I think.
"God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house.
God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives.
God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war.
God is in the debris of wasted opprotunity and lives
and God is with us if we are with them."