A teacher of the law walks up to Jesus while He is teaching and asks Him, “Of all the commandments, which is the greatest?”
Jesus says to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.
The teacher of the law responds to Jesus, agreeing with what He has said, and then in understanding also states that these two commandments are “more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” (summary of Mark 12:28-34).
I have found that this act of love, to love our neighbor as our self, is no mystery. It is the living, breathing body of Christ working within the power and capacity of the Lord. Hurting when others are hurt, rejoicing when others rejoice.
We walk forward and love with love that has been poured on us, our hearts made sensitive to the needs of those around us.
We are intricately connected, I believe more so than we even suspect. We are one body, the Bride of Christ, each one of us examples of Christ’s love.
I expound upon this for a reason; I recently heard a story at Compassion in a meeting that left such awe resonating in my heart. So much so that I went and hunted down the pictures, the full report,* and then I requested to share it with you.
It is an account of the body of Christ in action, the call to love our neighbor being fulfilled.
Breathing was extremely difficult and oxygen had to be administrated 24 hours a day. His daily life had to be overseen 24/7 and the worries of the medics grew day after day as Stuart had to struggle with an illness called subglottic stenosis.
Subglottic stenosis causes the throat to narrow and makes the breathing process complicated, and for Stuart restricts his life to 50 percent of normal capabilities.
Stuart has suffered from this illness since he was 3 years old, and as the doctors in Nicaragua examined his case, they realized that the appropriate treatment could not be done there but rather only in Europe.
Dr. Erick Castillo (Compassion Guatemala’s Health Specialist), worked closely with Dr. Nubia Figueroa (Compassion Nicaragua’s Program Implementation Manager) sharing reports about Stuart’s health status, and found in Guatemala a medic who could fulfill this surgery and suggested this new option.
Reluctantly, Stuart’s mom agreed to travel to Guatemala, but later regretted her decision and turned down her permission to let Stuart travel. Her fear was that this surgery leaves a small open hole in the patient’s throat for at least one year, depending on the alimentation and care that he is given.
Eventually, though, Stuart was able to travel to Guatemala and had this laser surgery that resulted in a successful outcome for his life!
Ingrid González (Compassion Guatemala’s Curriculum Specialist) opened her home doors for Stuart and his mother while he was recovering from this surgery, and along with Erick Castillo, treated him the very best they could by praying, giving encouraging words and striving to help them feel at home as they were in an unknown country.
Compassion Guatemala, through its Country Director as well as the local office’s prayer group and many of its staff, constantly monitored Stuart’s case to see how he was doing. Stuart received many gifts from the staff and was even taken to church and then to an outing by one of the staff members on a beautiful Sunday.
Stuart continues to thrive in life, and his health is continually improving since his surgery.
Dr. Castillo and Dr. Figueroa continue to oversee Stuart’s health by sharing mutual reports, since Stuart must return soon to Guatemala for his respective medical follow-up to make sure everything is all right, especially the small hole left in his throat.
Compassion Guatemala continues to advise our partners in Nicaragua to give Stuart proper support, from his student center to his home.
Stuart’s birthday was June 9, the first birthday that he did not spend in a hospital. What a beautiful thing!
The command to love our neighbor as our self is a great task but one that can result in victories … even in saving lives.
And let us remember how Jesus responded to the man who acknowledged the beauty of the command:
“When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’” – Mark 12:34 (NIV)
*Stuart’s story was written by Samuel Llanes in the Compassion Guatemala office.