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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Unselfish act example for all Christians

Friday, January 6, 2012

Her name is Ann, she is a Canadian senior citizen and she is quite the adventurer.

I met her in Mazatlan, Mexico, and was immediately impressed with her go-get-'em attitude. Her latest venture is one that deserves to be retold.

Ann and her husband Patrick were on a jungle trek in Burma when she was bitten by a red-tailed, green snake. She had been sleeping on banana leaves on the forest floor but had awakened early to sit by the fire to watch the stars. That's when it happened. She felt the sting on her ankle and looked down to see the asp's triangular head at her feet.

Her alarming cries woke the native guides who sprang into action, first killing the snake with their machetes and then tending to Ann's leg. This particular snake was so venomous, Ann was told, that she had eight minutes to live unless emergency aid was given.

Using vines from nearby branches, the guides created a tourniquet. Then they lanced the wound with their machete and applied to it a hastily-made opium paste. Before Ann knew it, she was hoisted upon an elephant and lead by a drug-smoking guide to a village five hours away, her husband and the rest of the entourage following behind. Ann told me the guide repeatedly offered her a hit from his opium pipe in order to deaden the pain, but she refused. I'm not so sure that would have been my response.

Once in the village, the head shaman declared an exorcism was needed because Ann had brought an evil spirit into their territory. A pig was killed, its head severed, and a fire was built to sacrifice the pig on the hastily-built altar.

Ann then was told that in order to destroy the evil that had entered her, she had to eat the raw heart of the pig. If she refused, all 500 of the local villagers would have to relocate to another area. At that point of the story, I began to squirm. Where IS that opium pipe when you need it?

I told Ann I couldn't have done that, but she reminded me that I could have, had hundreds of lives depended upon it. Ann somehow was able to eat one bite of the heart, an offering that apparently appeased the witch doctor. That, however, was not the end of the ritual.

According to Ann, they offered her a drink from a cup so filthy she couldn't see what was inside. Assuming it was blood, Ann balked, but when the natives held it closer she realized it was alcohol, part of the purification process needed to satisfy the qualifications of the exorcism. Ann does not drink alcohol but acquiesced, partly to control the pain from her swollen foot and, of course, to fulfill her obligation to the villagers.

It was quite a story, and one not without applications to Christians. How far would you or I go to sacrifice for others when it goes against our beliefs?

Paul's letter to the Romans addresses such a dilemma when he writes that both strong and weak Christians are commanded to refrain from binding their views on those of opposite philosophies. Instead, they are to be sacrificial in their attitudes and decorum.

I have met too many Christians who think that it's "their way or the highway." Their particular beliefs allow for no variation and certainly illustrate no concern for others who differ in what is and what is not tolerated. They certainly do not model Christ-like behavior.

Think about it. Jesus went where no self-respecting rabbi would go -- to the house of a tax collector, to the well where he met an adulterer, even to the tomb which housed a demon-possessed man. He blasted Pharisees who were "all about law," and He, himself, was the final sacrifice for all of us who represented the antithesis of what He stood for.

When I think of Ann's experience in that light, I would like to think I would have been as unselfish as she. How about you?

Patty LaRoche
Patty LaRoche: Face to Face