David Graham Thoughts Along the Way

ISBN 13: 9781887750158

Thoughts Along the Way

 
9781887750158: Thoughts Along the Way

Book by Graham, David

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

David Graham received his B.S. in Chemistry from Wheaton College in Illinois and his M.D. from the University of Tennessee in Memphis, after which he did his residency in general surgery at Chattanooga, Tennessee. He has had articles published in The American Surgeon and Annals of Surgery and has presented his surgical research at local and national conferences. He and his wife Joahnna, a nurse, currently reside near Chattanooga.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

What do Michael Jordan, microwave ovens, Ludwig van Beethoven, McDonald's restaurants, Richard Nixon, the stock market, William Shakespeare, Joe Montana, and compact discs have in common? The answer is that none of these mean anything to the average person in a Third World country. If you were to travel to a place where your particular interests in sports, music, food, politics, literature, or business were nonexistent, would your concept of culture change? Furthermore, if in this place, you could not speak the language(s) used for communication, would you feel isolated, frustrated, or stupid as well? How central is language to our life, our very being? Finally, if you knew nothing of the national geography or history, would that affect your opinion of the education you have acquired?

With these questions in mind, I would like to tell you a little bit about my life in Africa during January-February of 1990. As a medical student nearing the end of a four year sojourn, my six weeks of international health studies at l'Hospital Evangelique in Bembereke, Benin were profitable in several areas, the foremost of which were my increased knowledge of the local African culture, the French language, medicine in a Third World setting, and my world view (i.e., my Christian faith). These four factors-language, culture, job skills, and religion-strongly influence any work one might do as a Third World health care worker.

Many different parts are necessary for a body to work properly, and at Bembereke I tagged along to observe the various bits of the mission work required to make the hospital run properly and provide good health care: the clinic (with its seemingly endless stream of patients), the operating room (with the seemingly endless stream of cases), the laboratory (for microscopic detection of disease), the pharmacy (for chemical treatment of disease), hospital wards 9with 65 beds for patients), physical therapy (for rehabilitation), and village work by public health workers trying to educate people in the local towns about the importance of immunization, proper nutrition, good hygiene, and basic recognition and treatment of a few diseases. These departments also worked to meet the spiritual needs of the Beninoise by such means as praying with patients before operations, having a Beninoise pastor share the gospel message with locals following a public health lecture, or through conversations on the wards between the patients and fellow countrymen working as evangelists in the hospital. Luke 18:17 says, "Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all." Likewise, to enter into a world of of knowledge in such areas as medicine or French or sociology, one must adopt a childlike attitude to learn, to put away pride and be willing to be instructed. I spent much time there observing, asking questions, and seeking to glean knowledge from all who would teach me.

Culturally, every society has its own advantages and disadvantages. Compared with Benin, Americans generally practice better hygiene, are taught to think rationally, and have open friendships between the sexes. On the other hand, Beninoise generally eat a healthier diet, don't get uptight or worry about time schedules, and don't wear neckties.

I found, as have others, that in many respects the African culture resembles the ancient near eastern Hebrew culture that we read about in the Old Testament: arranged marriages, life in a hot climate, importance of family bonds, respect for guests, desire for many children, and sometimes waiting to convey important news until the end of a conversation (cf. Genesis 18:16ff) are just a few of the similarities. To read a book like the Bible, the western mind accepts on theory many things that Africans understand existentially with their hearts. For we who live with air conditioning, ice cubes, showers, Dr. Scholl's shoe inserts, leavened bread, trains, planes, and paved roads, what significance is there to phrases like, "the Lord was walking in the garden in the cool of the day," "As deer pants for the waterbrook, so my soul pants for Thee O God," "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst again," "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of meal, until it was all leavened," "Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded," "Now Ninevah was an exceedingly great city, a three days' walk," "So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom; and they made a circuit of seven days journey, and there was no water for the army or for the cattle that followed them," " For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness"?

Today, many Third World countries are undergoing cultural changes because of the ever-expanding influence of twentieth century technology. Some of these, such as health education, are for the better, while others, such as deforestation, are not. Just where these will lead and how they will affect the people they influence remains to be seen.

Missionaries face several challenges with these changes. At the same time, the Church has to tackle many of the problems that she also faces here in America, such as boredom with church services, lack of Christian growth in church members, ineffectiveness in sharing the gospel, or difficulties with church discipline. Additionally, there are cross-cultural decisions for the missionaries that are not easy to make. To great of an involvement by the white western missionaries can always do the jobs. Too little help and the church may struggle as well. The goal is to have nationals become self-governing, financially self-sustaining, self-taught, and spiritually self-serving in their churches; in a word: independent.

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