Sacrificial Love

Sacrificial Love

by Melody Echo | September 1, 2010

It was a hot muggy day in central Kenya, as my friends and I walked down the path to the little hospital where we were hoping to do some volunteer work, or at least watch a few procedures. Actually, we had not come to Kenya to do health work, but to do evangelism, and our team of ten was in the midst of holding six different evangelistic crusades at the same time. Several thousand people were in attendance at our nightly meetings, and we were enthusiastic and excited about the opportunity to share Christ with eager listeners. However, with a limited amount of time in Kenya, we wanted to make sure we could see and experience as much of cultural life as possible, so those of us who were medically minded thought that the local hospital (the only one for many miles around) seemed a good place to start.

The doctors and nurses were friendly, and the hospital, a little over 75 years old, was one of the best buildings in the area. But conditions were poor and supplies meager. The sick and hurting sprawled out on the concrete floor or benches as they waited for attention. A nurse showed us through the facility and the sick wards. Up to 20 patients shared a single room, some coughing up blood, some seemingly comatose, and others moaning in pain as they waited for a nurse to bring medicine. And yet, this was the best facility they had – one of the best outside of Nairobi. It was a stark contrast to the clean, white washed hospital halls and quiet private rooms I was used to working in as a nurse back home in the U.S.

As we visited the laboratory and were talking with the staff, a messenger rushed in and said they needed blood. They needed to do an emergency surgery on a woman that had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and would need blood to do it. The staff looked in the refrigerator, which was being run on generator power, where they kept the blood for transfusions. The type of blood they needed was not in store. "Sorry! The surgery will have to wait. It could take a couple days to get the blood here or find a volunteer." The errand boy sadly turned away. All of us knew that by that time it may be too late to perform the surgery.

My friends and I looked at each other. Almost immediately we thought the same thing, but it was my friend Sheila that blurted out excitedly, "Can I donate blood for her? How much do you need?" "We would need three units!" they replied, hope filling their eyes. "But you're too small to give the whole three!"

Then their eyes fell on me. I squirmed inwardly. I may be a nurse, but needles still bother me, at least when I’m on the receiving end – and I'd never given blood before! I wasn't sure that I wanted to start now, especially in an unsanitary hospital in Kenya! Ok, well, maybe they had all newly packaged needles and the process was sanitary; but it was still Kenya. Sheila held out her hand for the blood type prick, to see if she even had the match, while I continued to churn inwardly. I had come to help these people, and I honestly felt love for these people, but give them my blood? I hadn't bargained on that.

Sheila proved to be a positive match and was soon up on the table with tubing in place as blood poured into the collection bag. Within a few minutes, she thought she might be getting a little dizzy, so I ran back to where we were staying to get her some crackers and juice, and in the process recruited another member from our team who was willing to donate. But they would still need one more unit. So, with butterflies churning in my stomach and my head spinning (and they hadn't even stuck the needle in me yet!), I resolved that I too, would give a unit of blood. The process was actually rather quick, and didn't hurt as bad as I thought. And everything was quite sanitary. And later as we watched the surgery being successfully performed, I thanked the Lord that He gave me courage to sacrificially give of myself to help this woman need.

Later that night after we'd come home from yet another meeting where more people had come forward and given their lives to God, I lay pondering the events of the day. Did it matter that I could preach a sermon? Did it matter that I cared a lot about these people and wanted them to go to the same heaven that I was going to? Did it matter that I was reaching out to the children and orphans, or visiting and comforting the lonely and poor? Did it matter that I was giving away Bibles by the box load? Did all of that matter if I wasn't willing to sacrifice a little in the process, if I wasn't willing to really show them I cared, to spend a little of my own blood, even if it hurt? Did it matter if I wasn’t willing to live the love that I preached?

The husband of the woman to whom we gave blood had come up to us that afternoon and thanked us with tears in his eyes. He hardly knew what to say and could not imagine why strangers, foreigners from another country, would give up some of their blood so that his wife could live. It warmed my heart and made the sacrifice even more worth giving! But as I lay in my bed reflecting on it all, the thought entered my mind, What if he hadn't been grateful for the small sacrifice we made? What if instead, he had spit in our faces and said, “Get lost! Why don't you go back to wherever you came from! We don't need your gifts here!”

Would I still have been glad that I donated blood? Would I have wanted to give more? Humanly speaking, I don't think so, yet my heart was humbled and chastised as I thought of a lowly man from Galilee who walked on our earth a couple thousand years ago. He didn't have one tiny needle in His arm – He had spikes through His hands and feet. He didn't give one meager unit of blood and get a little dizzy. He gave all His blood and by so doing, gave up His life! He yielded himself and took the lowest place, the place of shame and reproach; there was no honor, there was no applause. To the throngs around Him, He was nothing better than a criminal, and yet He willingly surrendered Himself to be so treated – because of you and me.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed (Is. 53:3-5 KJV).

Were the people that He came to save thankful?? Were the people whom His stripes were meant to heal grateful? No. They spit in His face, they mocked Him and told Him they didn't need His miracles, they beat Him and took Him to one of the world's most cruel and

agonizing deaths! Of course, that was over 2,000 years ago, but how many times today do we again nail our Savior and King to that cross? He came to save us, not just to provide a “better way.” He provided the only way; the only way to freedom and life more abundant, the only way to victory, the only way to the Promised Land, the only way to heaven. Yet again and again, with our indifference, our spiritual pride, and our selfishness, it’s as if we are again putting Him and His sacrifice to shame.

“...They crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Heb. 6:6 KJV).

And yet, despite all this, despite the thousands of times we wound Him or crucify Him afresh, despite the ungratefulness we exhibit for this priceless gift – He still did it! And He'd do it again if He had to! Why? Because He wants to save you and me!

“Lord," I prayed that night, "forgive me for being so hesitant to share a little of my blood. If You had not been willing to give all Your blood for me, my life would have been lost, and I would not be here today in Kenya trying to show Your lost children the way home. Forgive me and help me to have Your heart for the lost, help me to be willing to spill my blood, over and over again, even if no one is looking and no one is grateful, even if my gift is mocked! May it be a joy, may I do it as unto You!"

“But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8 KJV).

"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold...But with the precious blood of Christ..." (1 Peter 1:18-19).

"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood" (Rev. 1:5).

Special Note from the Author:

This story took place almost four years ago now, yet I have often looked back on this experience and remembered the amazing, unselfish love that became even more real to me that day as I caught a glimpse of Christ’s sacrifice. But even after this experience, I have to admit that I still did not grasp the full significance of Christ’s blood and what that means, really means, for us today! It was something I’d grown up hearing about, something I had preached and shared with others, and yet, besides knowing that it saved me from my sins, it was just a part of the grand and glorious story. That is, until I came to Ellerslie this summer.

For the past 11 weeks, I’ve been privileged to be part of a group hungering and thirsting for more of God. God tells us, “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it!” (see Psalm 81:10), and that is exactly what He has done! I can’t say I even yet grasp the complete fullness or beauty of Christ’s shed blood or the filling that He is just waiting to give, but I have discovered in a whole new and life-transforming way the significance of what His amazing sacrifice was all about. If you, too, long to understand it more clearly, I encourage you to come be part of the Ellerslie experience yourself. It’s a “set-apart season” I didn’t think I could afford in my schedule, but now I know that it’s a season I couldn’t have afforded to miss. Eric and Leslie didn’t ask me to write this; I just have to share it because it’s been such a powerful summer! Ellerslie will forever change your life and your perspective on the power of “His amazing blood,” as well as so much more! Obviously, I do still have much more to say on this beautiful topic, but we’ll save that for another time. But as you go to bed tonight and say your prayers, don’t forget to thank Jesus for the gift of “His shed blood.”*

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