I’m lying on my stomach with my chin resting atop my folded arms on a sleep bed — I can see perfectly out of my train window. We are headed from a small district in Madhya Pradesh to Agra, India — about 480 kilometers, which will take about eight hours and cost about 950 rupees (about $14.78 U.S. dollars.) We left about 6 p.m., long enough that the rhythm of the iron train wheels on the iron track rock me to sleep.
I awoke when the cadence of the train slowed and stopped at a small train station — I think the sign said Babina. It was nightfall, but the station lights lit up a small crowd milling around a few feet from my window, while two men ran by my window to hop aboard. Not 30 feet from the tracks was a make-shift tent of wood and pieced-together fabric, and I could see someone rustling by carrying a candle. Others lay sleeping on the marble station platform among the trash — the lucky ones have blankets.
Reminiscing on the week as I watched the happenings from my window, I almost forgot we’d left Super Bowl Sunday after church. Although I have had the opportunity to take four previous trips, Steve and I were invited to visit Central India Christian Mission together — the first time we’ve gone together since 1997, when our girls were toddlers and the youngest was 8 months old.
Steve took his chiropractic and acupuncture practice to India and ended up having not only a medical camp for local villagers and the mission staff, but others as well.
When word got out, he also ended up treating more than 60 healthcare workers at the mission hospital — three surgeons, nurses, nurses aids, hospital administrators, beggars, anesthesiologist, politicians — anyone who needed health care. I was serving in other areas, but when I finished and came over to where he was set up, I heard the patients exclaim in their Hindi accents: “You are a magic man” or “Wow, that is amazing.”
One Hindu government doctor, who was having constant pain in her back and down her leg (she delivers hundreds of babies a month) was so relieved, she confided: “I thought I would have to stop working — I thought it was my age, but dhanyavaad (thank you), I feel so good now.”
She spoke to Steve: “We have a double blessing as doctors. The blessing of serving and giving good health and second, the blessing of loving what we do.”
This doctor’s husband is a pediatrician who cares for the orphaned children in the children’s home for free.
At the medical camps set up for the local villagers, many people watched before they got treated. Although the translation slowed the process down a bit, Steve had four nursing students assisting and translating for him and they continued until the line of patients huddled outside the community building were cared for. I watched my husband listen intently to his patients, then communicate, educate and treat the patient through a student translator while simultaneously teaching the patient and nursing students. Steve asked the nursing students to also pray with each patient (in Hindi) after every treatment.
This column may seem like a brag-fest on my husband, but what I want you to understand is that before we went, he was a bit hesitant in how he could use his gifts to bless the work of God through Central India Christian Mission. How would he try to communicate what he does to so many who have never been introduced to chiropractic care? How would he communicate with a language barrier? What would he use for adjusting tables?
What I witnessed was God working through one Johnson County doctor who made himself available — like Isaiah’s words: “Here I am Lord, send me.”
Of course we don’t have to fly 12 hours across the world, take a prop plane two hours and drive for a few more and back on an overnight train — no, we can seek the answer to our question right here in Johnson County: “Here I am Lord, send me.”
Janet Hommel Mangas grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.