June 4, 2024

LifeDate Summer 2024 – Made For Life

by Barbara Lane Geistfeld, D.V.M.

Jesus loves the little children of the world.

“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7).

Sometimes, as we Americans live our lives day in, day out, year after year, we may forget that God has richly blessed us with material things we now take for granted. We have clean, pure water—both hot and cold—right at our fingertips when we turn on one of our many faucets. We have indoor flush toilets, bathtubs and showers, washers and dryers, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, electric or gas cook tops with vents to take away the odors, steam, and smoke (at least mine takes away smoke), beds, closets, dressers, tables and chairs, televisions, computers, telephones, cell phones, cars, and trucks—the list is almost endless. And we often have more than one of all of these!

Perhaps it is time to stop and remember that no matter our possessions and surroundings, we are just a tiny part of the mankind that God our Father formed from the dust and breathed into life. We are a tiny part of all those who have dreams, fears, and hopes for their future and for their children’s future. Our possessions do not make us different from the rest of mankind, and they do not remove from us those same dreams, fears, and hopes.

My husband Jim and I have been blessed to have traveled all over the world in the last fifty years. We’ve visited all the continents and all the states, all the while meeting people of different races, cultures, religions, and economic means. One fact that we have absorbed deep into our souls is this: We are all identical inside. We are made of the same dust by the same Creator for the same purpose.  He calls all of us to be His children and walk in His ways.

I would like to share some of this “oneness” that we observed. In the early 1980s, we visited Chile and Peru (Barb) and Bolivia and Peru (Jim) with Lutheran World Relief. We visited  families who had received animals and other resources from LWR. In one village, someone introduced me as Doctora. Being a veterinarian made no difference. I was soon giving out all my first aid supplies to people with leg wounds and other needs. Their smiles of gratitude for a tiny tube of triple antibiotic overwhelmed my heart. In one of the small homes, a young woman held a baby with a badly running nose. I reached over with a tissue to wipe her nose, and the baby leaned way out of her mother’s arms to get away from the tissue. Mom and I looked warmly into each other’s eyes as all of us women laughed. I did not need to speak Quechua to understand our bond as mothers.

We visited China in 1994 with Heifer International. The families that had received cattle, sheep, goats, ducks, chickens, or pigs from Heifer had several things in common with us. They worked hard to keep their animals healthy. They were so proud of what they had accomplished. Their first purchases with the money they earned from their animals were medicine and school supplies for their children. The next purchase was a sewing machine to help them earn even more by the work of their hands. They shared their newfound “riches” with others. We did not have to speak Mandarin Chinese to see the pride and self-worth that filled their lives now that they could take care of their families.

We visited Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda with Heifer a few years later. In one village where the people lived in mud huts with thatched roofs and dirt floors, a young man wearing a ragged snowmobile suit (his best, worn in our honor), leaned over a small, brand new concrete trough and turned on a tiny faucet that filled this trough with clean water from his rain-capture system.  We did not have to speak Swahili to understand his gratitude. We could feel our hearts swell with his pride and our tears flow on his behalf.

I could go on and on. We shared Russian-language Bibles with the ship’s crew that took us to Antarctica, Spanish-language Bibles for the crew in the Galapagos, Chinese-language Bibles in China, Nepali-language Bibles in Nepal, and a cassette player with the entire New Testament in Romanian for our trip there. Everywhere we went, the people were just like us. Made from the same dust by the same Father. Bound together by our humanity. Made identically in God’s image.

We still travel. We still meet people “different” from us. But that difference is totally external.  Inside we are one creation: created by God, redeemed by Jesus, the Lord of Life, and someone who is a child of God through our Baptism or someone God longs to claim as His child. May God help us to see people as He sees people—precious in His sight.

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
(Clare Herbert Woolston, Public domain)