Tuesday, June 5, 2012
The Tender Touch of a Stranger
By Kevin Turner, president of Strategic World Impact (SWI)
Special to ASSIST News Service
BARTLESVILLE, OK (ANS) -- It seems like only yesterday when our then-eleven-year-old daughter, Emily, lay on the ground desperately crying, “Daddy, Daddy, are you there? I can't see you Daddy!” The broken bone in her neck was causing blindness and in desperation, I called to her, “Emily, Emily I am here -- I am right in front of you!”
When my daughter lost sight of her earthly father, by faith, she was able to reach out and see her heavenly Father. Brief moments of time were suddenly dragged into eternity as minutes seemed like hours waiting for the emergency crew to arrive. During that time, my mind raced to numbness to action, back to numbness again while calamity was doing her perfect work and teaching the most important things in life.
It was the summer of 2002 and I was in the middle of our annual Disaster Assistance Response Training (DART) conference equipping missionaries and aid workers. While ringing a dinner bell, my daughter was pulling on a thick rope when the entire bell assembly collapsed. She fell backwards onto the ground and snapped her head on a raised walkway.
As I initially saw Emily on the deck, I knew something was seriously wrong. All other concerns from the conference became insignificant as my injured daughter lay there in need. Soon, a helicopter would swoop down and take her from the mountains on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park to the Children's Hospital of Denver.
Separated from our daughter in her most needy time, I raced down the mountain with my wife, Tammy, twisting and turning through the winding roads, while every imaginable thought ripped through our minds. After all, the last time we saw our daughter; she was blind and had a serious neck injury. We cried out to God during this traumatic ride of uncertainty and drove as fast as we could to reach her. We did not want our daughter to die or suffer more damage and not hear the voice of her mom and dad.
At the hospital, the X-ray told the story we did not want to hear: her C-3 vertebrae was completely cracked in half and the news from the doctor brought little comfort. Surgery was ahead, but so was the possibility of paralysis, or even death. In a moment's time, our cares in life had completely changed. I tried to stand strong for Emily and for my precious wife.
While alone in an admin room, my emotions finally burst and I sat sobbing with my head in my hands. My heart felt as though it were being wrung out by calloused hands that knew no tenderness. I prayed desperately for the comfort of the Lord as I felt bone-numbing pain and loneliness. Tenderly, a hand was placed on my shoulder and at once, I began to feel comfort. A voice spoke to me, asking if I would like a fresh cup of coffee.
Before I could look up through my tear-filled eyes, a compassionate stranger was already off to fulfill an errand of love. A hot cup of coffee was placed in my hands and the stranger's comforting voice simply said, “You looked like you could use a tender touch and a good cup of coffee.” This was an instant answer to prayer as Jesus used a stranger to touch me in my deepest moment of pain. No other words were shared and the stranger slipped back behind a desk and was quickly back to work.
Was it Jesus? Was it just a stranger? Did God hear my cry and touch the stranger's heart with compassion? I believe it was all of the above.
Over the years since the accident, myself, along with SWI team members, have been honored and humbled to travel to countless countries, reaching out in-kind and touching those in their most desperate time of need.
During these years of service in war zones and disaster areas, I have bore witness to some of the most traumatic events imaginable and have been reaffirmed that a simple touch from a stranger with empathy and compassion can comfort even the most broken spirit.
Could it be that in God's economy, He desires to use the stranger/Samaritan? Does love really cross borders, leap continents, span deserts and press through steel walls? I believe through the power of prayer and the Holy Spirit of God, it does.
No simple act of kindness goes unnoticed by those who are suffering and even a cup of cold water given in Jesus' name will receive a reward.
Whenever my mind drifts back to that tragic summer day in Colorado, I always remember the hand of that stranger. My daughter was eventually wheeled from the hospital nine days later and walked for the first time the next day. She soon completely recovered from her injuries and nine years later, we danced together on her wedding day. I continually thank God for His hand of mercy upon her and my entire family.
By the grace of God, may the next hand of mercy on someone who is suffering be yours.
Run to the Battle!
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