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Stories & Blog

Practical Compassion

ASIA — “If my wife dies, I’ll just get another.”

In the western world, that statement holds a disturbing mix of bad logic and apathy. Yet in an eastern culture where a Crossworld team is serving, it’s common sense among local men – especially when it regards their wives who are experiencing problems during pregnancy.

“Women are not valued in this culture and men are the decision-makers,” explained Mark, a Crossworld team member in Asia. “So when a man’s expectant wife has early contractions or bleeding, she is dependent on him for help. On her own, she cannot call for a doctor or get to a clinic. Her husband will usually shrug off her symptoms because, after all, ‘that’s what women do.’ He doesn’t understand that without immediate intervention, his wife and child could die.”

The lack of money (or its misdirection) is another obstacle to saving these at-risk women.

“The people in this area are very poor and most of them are saddled with enormous debt,” Mark said. “They borrow money to host huge weddings that will take a lifetime to pay off. A husband will put the welfare of existing children at risk by refusing to pay for his pregnant wife to get medical care.”

In an expression of practical compassion, Crossworld workers are seeking to bring basic education for healthy maternities to isolated villages. Groups of men and women are trained separately through verbal instruction, culturally appropriate illustrations and role playing. Colorful copies of the potentially  life-saving illustrations are offered freely – a boon where illiteracy is the norm.

This simple training conveys important lessons. For example, regarding emergency planning, one lesson is to set aside a small amount of money regularly so that lack of taxi fare to a clinic won’t be the reason a pregnant woman loses her baby or own life. Regarding nutrition, the lesson is that an expectant woman does not merely need “more rice,” but fruits, vegetables and meat. These lessons – which are common knowledge in most of the western world – are new here.

What’s revelatory, though, isn’t taught from an illustrated flip chart or lecture notes, but through the consistent demonstration of practical compassion: there is value to each human life. And Mark is trusting God for true followers of Jesus as the team demonstrates his love in this way.

Italicized name has been changed to protect identity.

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