by Heidi Smith
Sometimes God brings people together in amazing ways for His purposes. I had the privilege of witnessing one such encounter during a week-long visit of two of our short-term mission teams here in Chol-Chol, Chile, the birthplace of the Anglican Church in Chile.
That Sunday morning two teams from Knoxville-area Anglican churches (Apostles and Old North Abbey) had been divided into four groups to visit four different churches in the rural areas outside of Chol-Chol. I served as translator at the church we visited in the community called Laurel Huacho, for team members Greg and Pryor Baird. Near the end of the service during prayers, Gladys, the wife of the lay leader in charge, stood to ask for prayer for her complicated situation of mastitis, a breast-feeding condition that can, when infected, spread. In Glady’s case it had led to very painful and swollen legs. Everyone prayed fervently for her, and after service, we proceeded to the abundant “almuerzo” (Sunday dinner) prepared for us by church members.
After lunch, when poor Gladys finally got to put her legs up, Pryor took me aside and asked some more details about Gladys. “I don’t know if you know this,” she said, “but I am a nurse and I work specifically with women who have complications due to mastitis. Do you think I could ask Gladys some questions?” Well, of course she could ask Gladys some questions! I stared in amazement. No, I had NOT known that Pryor’s work was in that specific area. And no, I had not known that Gladys was suffering with something directly in line with Pryor’s specialty.
I had no idea, but God did. And on that warm late summer morning the Lord had chosen to bring His daughters together, from one continent to another. Pryor gently sat down with Gladys, carefully touching one of her badly swollen legs and was able to explain to Gladys, with me serving as translator, why the mastitis had led to her legs swelling. It was obvious to Pryor that the untreated breast infection had reached Gladys’ bloodstream and had been carried to her legs. It was now being treated, but it was a slow process. Pryor’s suggestions and quiet words of reassurance seemed to calm Gladys’ heart. Pryor took pictures on her phone of Gladys’ medical reports and prescriptions, and by the time we gathered to pray together for Gladys, we could all sense God’s peace.
I did not know this fact when I began writing this article, but my husband, Russ, told me that the name of Gladys’ church is El Buen Pastor, “The Good Shepherd.” How fitting! Our Good Shepherd knows His sheep and cares deeply for each one. He knew exactly what His precious lamb, Gladys, needed at that moment. He chose to bring another of His lambs from a part of His sheepfold a continent away to minister to His own that morning — Pryor from Knoxville, TN, to Gladys in a remote rural area in southern Chile. His extravagant love was made tangible that day.
“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.
Heidi Smith is a SAMS Missionary serving in Chol-Chol, Chile with her husband Russ.