Veterinarians Demonstrate Compassion in West Africa
This post is written by Becky, a CAMA worker in West Africa, and was originally published on The Alliance website.
When we host our annual veterinarian work teams, I typically turn into a modern-day Betty Crocker, albeit less skilled. My duties are relegated to keeping hungry team members fed, but I find the bulging suitcases of American goodness they bring to us are an even trade.
During the recent Fremont (Nebraska) Alliance Church team’s visit I decided to get in on the action in the field. So my kids and I spent a morning with them. It was truly the most excitement we’ve had in a long time. We can now say we’ve been to a rodeo!
Sacrifice Creates Opportunity
It’s a sacrifice for these practitioners to come—and we aren’t just talking about the vacation time they use up! Team members inhale unhealthy amounts of dust, risking life and limb wrestling wild bulls. Some involuntarily give themselves a de-worming treatment, which translates to a lot of time spent in the facilities. Still others have been bitten (by a donkey no less).
Yet what an opportunity they have to help the local church demonstrate Christ-centered compassion to these communities, communicating a very simple message: “We care about you!”
For many locals, the livestock they own is their emergency fund. If there are medical bills, children’s school fees, or other dire needs, an animal is sold to cover the cost. The medications the veterinarian campaigns administer to the livestock provide huge benefits to the health of the local herds. These campaigns are a practical, valuable way to bless the community.
You don’t sign up for the vet team unless you are ready for some long days, to which the Fremont team members can attest—they inoculated 9,000 animals in 11 villages! In many cases, demonstration of the gospel gives opportunity for proclamation, which is what happened during their trip.
2,100 Hear the Gospel
Several of the villages where the team ministered during the day allowed our local Alliance church to return in the evening to hold evangelistic campaigns. There was much singing and dancing, and the gospel was clearly communicated to more than 2,100 people—some hearing the good news for the first time.
The service brought back memories of the open-air evangelistic campaigns I used to attend as a teenager with my dad, Doug Conkle. We’d drive off into the middle of nowhere, rattling our way down washed-out roads, the car filled with one too many people, but all of us filled with anticipation to see how many would come to know Jesus.
Souls for the Kingdom—this is what our team prayed for as we sat under a canopy of stars with hundreds of bodies crushing up against us, watching Jesus do His thing on the big screen (miraculously, the village chief gave permission to show the JESUS film).
The village we were in is noteworthy; it is a place of historic significance in the community. Since it is a stronghold of the majority religion here, it was closed to Christians until a piece of property on the outskirts of the town was sold to CAMA to start the Jɛgɛ Ɲuman fish farm.
Jɛgɛ Ɲuman has built trust in the community, allowing our vet team to do the inoculations and host the evangelistic campaign we attended—the first-ever in this village. (Local pastors claim that if the spiritual darkness is broken in this village that has no known believers, it will significantly impact the whole area.)
That evening as we watched the JESUS film, I wondered if our family would make it to the end of the story, since I already had one child asleep on my lap. But I just couldn’t leave yet—not because I didn’t know how the story ends but because the villagers didn’t.
I wasn’t disappointed. As spontaneous clapping rang out when the risen Jesus appeared, I heard a woman near me murmur, “Is this true?”
Could it be that light is piercing the spiritual darkness here? May it be so!