Gabe and his friend Kevin spent eight hours on Sunday in a village across the river. They met some pretty amazing people and got to spend some quality time with them. Tonet is the cousin of one of Gabe’s friends back in Ohio. He took Gabe and Kevin to visit his wife’s grandma who is very ill.
Of all the people they met (including several sick folks they prayed over), this 64-year-old woman, Lon Karn, made the biggest impact on Gabe.
As the girls and I sat at the kitchen table later that night, listening to Gabe recount the day’s adventures, I could tell this woman had his heart.
When they went to visit her, she was lying on her side in bed. She was wearing a nightgown and covered by a pink blanket. She was obviously in discomfort. A younger woman (her daughter) was wiping her frail body with a cool cloth.
Kidney failure. She needed dialysis three times a week. Her family owned some land out in the province, so they sold it to pay for her treatments. Now the money was gone. They could scrape together enough money to take her across the river for one treatment a week at most.
It wasn’t enough.
And it broke Gabe’s heart.
As he watched this woman bathe her ailing mother, his mind went immediately to his own mom and grandma. His grandma went to be with Jesus in September 2005 after battling brain cancer for over a year. Gabe’s mom tirelessly cared for her mom, including countless sponge baths and other, much more undignified tasks. He knew the exhaustion this woman must feel and the suffering her mom was enduring.
When Gabe’s grandma was sick, she got the best medical care available. The cancer proved too much for the doctors to cure (as most cancer does), but her family could rest knowing they did everything they could.
This woman’s family doesn’t have that luxury. Cambodia doesn’t have the best medical options in the world, but it has some. And her family can’t access them because they don’t have the money.
She’s 64. My mom is 64. I can’t help but think how young that is, how much life I hope and pray my mama still has in front of her. I can’t imagine her needing medical help to keep her healthy, to keep her alive, and not being able to get it because she doesn’t have the money.
When Gabe finished telling us Lon’s story, I could tell he wanted, needed to do something tangible to help her. Something beyond, “Hey, I’ll be praying God heals you. In the meantime, good luck!”
We needed to help her. I felt it in my soul.
But I also resisted (silently, not out loud).
We can’t really afford to help. People are giving us money.
You have money to spare, God told me.
Okay, true. But not nearly enough. We’ll need a lot of folks to help. But if we ask all of our people to give to her treatment, how are we going to raise all the support we need? We’re only at 20%!
I’ll take care of you.
I went to sleep and dreamed about not wanting to let go of my money. I woke up knowing I needed to hold it loosely. And besides, my family is healthy. That’s all we really need. Not everyone is so fortunate.
We’re very conscious of our efforts to aid people here—and what might inadvertently happen as a result. We know that giving to begging children (and adults) isn’t always the best option. We know that collecting shoes for orphans or distributing this, that, or the other thing isn’t always the best plan. We’re very unwilling to do anything that smacks of White Savior Complex. We are not heroes here. Not in any way.
And we also don’t want to make big promises—“We’ll pay for your dialysis for the next 10 years! Don’t worry!” Promises we don’t know if we can keep.
But we also can’t sit back and let a friend’s grandma, someone’s mom, someone’s wife suffer, when there’s something we can do about it.
In the past three years, our family has been the recipients of much, much, much generosity. Food on our table, money in our mailbox, bills paid, anonymous gifts. And on and on and on and on. Gabe was sick; he lost his job; we were drowning in medical debt. We didn’t know what we were going to do.
What if people had sat back and said, “Oh, I don’t want to play savior to them. Let’s let them figure this out on their own. If we help them, they might become dependent on us.”
We tried to do it on our own, but we couldn’t. And, by the grace of God, friends and family carried us.
Lon’s friends and family don’t have the resources to carry her. But we, her brothers and sisters in Christ, do. And Gabe set up a Go Fund Me account for her, so we can help from far and wide.
We are so thankful that, because of what we’ve been through in the last three years, we can help her with humble hearts. We aren’t sharing a sad story, then swooping in to be heroes. Not by a long shot.
But to whom much has been given much is required. Our family owes a debt we can never repay, but God, in his awesomeness, is giving us opportunities to kind of do just that.
This precious woman has been a follower of Jesus for over 20 years. The people in her village know she’s a follower of Jesus. For them to see other followers of Jesus caring for her in this way? We hope and pray it will make a big statement. We’re praying the impact will reach far and wide.
Yes, there are lots of people to give money to. Starving kiddos, pregnant mamas, and on and on. But we think Lon’s life is valuable too. And we want her to know that.
And we know God has enough money to go around.
We’ve started the giving. Even our girlies got in on it, unprompted. We’re asking you to join us if you’re willing and able. And we’re asking you, like us, to trust God to replenish what you’ve given so you can give more—to Lon, to someone else. Just to give and keep giving, even if it’s just a little bit at a time.
Thank you so much, friends. We think you’re amazing.