• Michelle Burkhardt

Jesus Needs Skin

Updated: Jun 22, 2019

This post is a reminder that not everyone is called to do the same thing. Admittedly, it has taking me several weeks to compose this article because, at first, I did not want to share my experience. To explain, at the end of May, I ventured to Honduras for my first mission’s trip. Other than the usual fears: safety with traveling, accommodations, food preparations, hostile environment, and insect-borne illnesses, I struggled with my own germ-phobia issues. I knew I was going to be sharing a room with a stranger and interacting with people in a country where I did not speak the language.

Despite my anxiety, I felt God’s hand in this trip. Many times, in the past, I would hear about other people’s experience on mission’s trips and think this was definitely not one of my “spiritual gifts”. I never even considered going on one. Yet, after obtaining my job at Hershey, I slowly began to feel God’s loving prompting to step outside of my “head” and trust Him for my safety and go. I obediently began to specifically search for a Christian Surgical Medical Mission trip (which was not easy), and I found a group that I thought would be a perfect fit. It was an Orthopedic Hand Team through GHO, and with my experience, I felt confident in my ability to provide assistance to the surgeons on the team. The goal was to help Honduran patients who could not afford treatment.

During my stay, we were scheduled to “mission” for 4 days, and I was assigned to work in an OR at two different hospitals. When I arrived the first day, supplies in hand, I was surprised to see they already had a surgeon, a nurse, and a surgical technologist. My thoughts, “If they had someone, why was I here”? I did help a little; especially with communication. For example, my doctor would ask for something, and since I knew the “American” term, I was able to help point to the instrument that was needed. This same routine basically occurred for the next three days; although, I did “scrub” 2 cases on the last day. Thankful that the last day was more in line with what I had originally expected, I still pondered, “why God wanted me there”. I recognize that I am a task-oriented person, thus, standing around and occasionally helping seemed impractical to me-causing me to doubt whether I was I truly needed?

Although I did not have the experience or the "epiphany” that others describe once they have returned from such a trip, I did see ALL the good that was done. My group did not just want to heal physically, they wanted to provide emotional and spiritual support too. There was a Prayer team that engaged with patients every day. With the help of an interpreter, the patients communicated their stories, and the team shared the love of Christ. Plus, there was a Mountain team that built a house. Each day the team came back and shared the progress of laying cement, building a frame, and providing a roof. I imagined a house like here- just a little smaller; however, it was essentially a large shed. It was a one room, 4-walled home. Yet, the recipient’s response was more like we built her a castle.

God knew my post-trip reflection was unclear, and in His goodness, He helped me recall a message during one of the morning devotionals. Our host, Jim expressed how this group’s purpose is important because sometimes “Jesus just needs skin”. Each person was representing Christ, and even though I had a small role, I believe God still used me (even though I could not see it) “just as He willed and saw fit [with the best balance of function]” (I Corinthians 12:18).

For the [human] body does not consist of one part, but of many [limbs and organs]. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” is it not on the contrary still a part of the body? If the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” is it not on the contrary still a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole [body] were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But now [as things really are], God has placed and arranged the parts in the body, each one of them, just as He willed and saw fit [with the best balance of function] –

1Corinthians 12:14-18.

This scripture helped me to process how God uses the whole body of Christ. Each part has a function that is just as important as another. Will I go again? I am not sure-but; I fully trust He will let me know.

�� ^