Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Guyana - July, 2006

On Monday, July 17th, a group of small children gathered for an afternoon of fun and games in the village of Tucville, (located near the Guyanese capital city of Georgetown). After a few hours playing in the street, the curious crew of young girls wandered from adult supervision and explored a nearby abandoned sewage facility. The children enjoyed their investigation of the unknown territory, but as they walked a narrow pathway near the edge of a large drainage tank, a 5-year old named Brianna accidentally slipped, fell into the sewage reservoir, and quickly sank to the bottom.

Brianna’s friends immediately screamed and ran for help, but as neighbors and witnesses rushed to the site, they stood in shock – for no one wanted to attempt a rescue. Although some considered diving into the tank, no one did. The tank was too large, and the amount of feces too great, too disgusting, and too dangerous. Anyone considering a rescue attempt would place themselves in serious danger. And so, while everyone knew something had to be done, no one wanted to be the one to do it. And with each passing moment of indecision and hesitation, Brianna held to the brink of life at the bottom of the sewage tank, moving closer to death with each tick of the clock.

In the mean time, a middle-aged Rastafarian named Ordock Reid passed by and heard the large commotion. He decided to examine the situation, and as he approached the abandoned sewage tank he was greeted with loud screams, broken hearts, and anguished faces. He was told about young Brianna’s predicament, and in an amazing act of courage, Ordock Reid did what no one else was willing to do. He braved the elements and jumped into the tank of raw sewage. The onlookers could not believe their eyes. Ordock – a total stranger who had never even known Brianna – took off his clothes, tied-up his dreadlocks, fastened a rope to his waist, and suffered through the muck and filth in order to rescue the young girl. It was a valiant act of courage.

After a few minutes, a large crowd gathered near the sewage tank. People prayed for mercy and asked God to deliver the small child from death, however, Ordock Reid was the only person to jump in and take action. Over and over again, he rose to the surface for oxygen and immediately dove back into the tank. He even cut out his dreadlocks (which are sacred to Rastafarians) in order to move more freely in the tank. His actions were both inspiring and courageous, but those who observed were quickly losing hope. Brianna had been submerged for a long while, and as the minutes passed by, her chances of survival became minimal at best.

But then, in a flash of hope and excitement, after thirty minutes of searching Ordock Reid felt a nudge near his waist. He reached down, grabbed Brianna, and brought her out of the filth and to the surface for a much-needed breath of fresh air. Amazingly, she was still breathing, and after Ordock carried her out of the tank, she was immediately rushed to the local hospital for emergency medical attention. The crowd cheered and congratulated Ordock for his bravery. Some gave him cash donations, while others offered a pat on the back and kind words. Everyone was in agreement: the man acted as brave as anyone they had ever seen. Before that day Ordock Reid was a stranger, but on this day – he was a village hero.

I wish I could say there was happy ending to this story. I wish I could say Brianna reached the hospital and survived the horrific experience. I wish I could say she is doing well and will be looking forward to a long and prosperous life. I wish I could say Ordock’s efforts saved the girl from death. But, one of the many things I’ve learned in Guyana is that life isn’t like a fairy tale. There are times when life just isn’t fair, and there are times when you wonder why such terrible things can happen to such loving and innocent people. Although Ordock acted with great courage and Brianna clung to life as long as she could, she died later that afternoon in the Georgetown Public Hospital. She was submerged in raw sewage for way too long, and although she fought hard, she simply could not recover. After five short years of life, young Brianna Maya Dover was dead.

Some might say Ordock Reid’s efforts were “all for nothing”. Some might say his sacrifices were useless. I disagree. I believe Ordock Reid’s act of selflessness and courage was not in vain, because he provided something that money cannot purchase. Although he is poor, unemployed, and (according to neighbors) homeless – he offered something much more valuable than money, gold, or gems. What did he provide? An example. Ordock Reid provided an example by illustrating what it truly means to sacrifice for the good of others and show genuine care and concern for the dignity of human life. While others (many of whom were more “respected” members of the village) stood by and prayed for someone to help, Ordock Reid did not hesitate. Not only did he know what needed to be done, he actually did what needed to be done.

I believe the story of Ordock Reid and Brianna Dover symbolizes what often happens in our world today. There are a numerous challenges across the globe that remind us of a dirty sewage tank: poverty, drugs, corruption, broken families, political fighting, wars, etc. But, when we acknowledge these issues, do we act like the neighbors who stand on the sideline – watching and waiting for someone else to help? Do we stand idle and hope that someone else will take action? Or, do we act like Ordock Reid and serve the best interests of others without thought or hesitation? I wonder: How many of us are willing to take the “leap of faith” and do what is right? How many of us are willing to jump into the filth of this world and try to do what is best? How many of us are willing to endanger our own comforts and securities while coming to the aid of those in need?

There are numerous disgusting messes in our world, too many to name. Each day we read the newspaper or watch the global news we observe numerous issues that limit the joy of human life. But, even in the midst of terror and destruction – there is hope. There is hope. There is hope because “with God all things are possible”, and there are numerous kindhearted people who are willing to come to the aid of others. And so, my prayer is that we become the kind of people that this world needs. I pray that all of us “jump in” to the messes of this world and come to the aid of those who have sunk to the bottom of the tank. Yes, there are risks. Yes, it is challenging. Yes, you might get dirty in the process. Nevertheless, we need to “jump in” and do what is right. No matter what the risk, no matter what the cost: we cannot stand on the side. We cannot wait for someone else to act. We – not anyone else – are the one’s we have been waiting for.

Someone once told me that: “…action without faith is a nightmare, and faith without action is a daydream”.

I pray that we take these words to heart.

Thank you for the ongoing care and support…I look forward to being in touch.

With peace and love in Jesus’ name,