With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:6-8
We all must have heard a thousand arguments on the “Health Care Issue.” Philosophical arguments, political arguments, social arguments, constitutional arguments, religious arguments, fiscal arguments, moral arguments…. There’s a lot of heat generated in these exchanges, a lot of passion, a lot of indignation, a lot of prejudice.
Instead of arguing ad nauseam I’d recommend a field trip, and maybe some active listening to the personal stories of some of the real people who are impacted by the decisions we make in the marbled halls of Washington, from our State Capitols, and via the manner in which we order our values.
BENEFIT: Yesterday evening I heard a few more stories at the 40th anniversary Testimonial Dinner for the Judeo Christian Health Clinic in Tampa. It was one of those formal “Gala” events, and Higgins Hall was packed with many hundreds of influential and compassionate donors.
My church – First Presbyterian Church of Brandon – is a big supporter of our local Brandon Outreach Clinic. In fact, we sponsored a huge dinner and auction benefit just a couple of months ago. But we still had a table at the Tampa event because the Judeo Christian Health Clinic is not only the largest and most comprehensive free medical facility in the Southeastern United States, it also grew out of the ministry of St. John Presbyterian Church, where our parish-associate pastor Earl Smith served for a decade before joining us last year.
THE STORY: Clinics such as these don’t make political speeches or pronounce social judgments… they simply apply faith-based love and compassion to the major screw-ups our world makes and do their best to mend the broken people.
And, believe me, there are a lot of broken people out there. And, contrary to myth, the vast majority of patients seen at clinics such as this are know as “the medically indigent,” or “the working poor.” These are folk who work hard, pay taxes and try to stay ahead of the bills, but can’t even begin to afford heath insurance. The Judeo Christian Health Clinic saw 35,000 such patients in 2011.
MISSION: The clinic’s mission statement is based on the Micah 6:8 passage I quoted already:
In the belief that we should do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God, the Judeo Christian Health Clinic provides free, quality, timely, and compassionate health care to medically indigent residents of the Tampa Bay Area who have no other resources for their health care needs.
“Our opportunity,” reported Dr. Sylvia Campbell, president of the board of directors, is to stay the tears of others….”
When clients receive care, and when that care is not bundled with crippling financial hardship and when recovery is not compromised by the insistent badgering of collection agencies, Campbell said that, quite often, “Patients can hardly believe it.”
Hardly believe it? Hardly believe that such compassion exists in this world? Hardly believe that they can go about the business of healing without fear? Hardly believe that the word “Free” doesn’t have to come with any conditions, or stigma?
I can hardly believe that any resident of this Great Nation ever has to worry about the cost of care. The clinic can’t do this alone; neither I, or you, or any of us. But TOGETHER… Ah, now we’re talking.
Peace, and because of Love – DEREK