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Summer 2024 Newsletter

Therefore, brethren, I implore you by the mercies of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to God—a spiritual act of worship.

Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of your minds, so that you will be able to discern the will of God and to know what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 –Romans 12:1-2

I.

CF Newsletter Summer 2024 Ambroise Pare battlefield color by Ernest Board

Je le pansai, Dieu le guérit (I bound his wounds, God healed him). That was the motto of Ambroise Paré, the 16th century “Father of Modern [trauma] Surgery,” a humble barber surgeon who became the Royal Surgeon to 4 consecutive French Kings. This motto is still inscribed above his chair at the College de St. Cosme.

It is a humbling and vitally necessary attitude for a surgeon to remember. I’ve spent the past 40 years doing just that, binding wounds… more than half of it among the poor out here on the edge of the jungle at Loma de Luz. You can get pretty good at binding wounds. But what about the wounds we bear that you cannot see? What do you do about those wounds of the soul? We can 

compensate for them and grow through the scars, like José Miguel in the last newsletter. You can grow around the scars with counselling, therapy, time. But you accumulate enough soul scars, and we all end up needing what Paul was writing about to the Romans, to be “transformed by the renewal of your minds.” Yet, how is that done? The three stories which follow touch upon this connection between transformation, the “renewal of your minds,”… and worship.

Memphis, the city with The Blues in its bones, is an easy target for casting stones. It is an easy decision to shake your head and pass on by toward someplace prettier, someplace safer. She’s got too many wounds, too many scars. Just stay on I-55 and cross the Mississippi River west toward Little Rock and St. Louis. Take the 240 Bypass and jump off East toward Nashville. Or stay with it to the end and head North into the west Tennessee farmland. Any way you go, you’ll feel your shoulders relax when the city is 20 miles in your rearview mirror. ….But…Yeah, if you go “walking in Memphis,” you’ll find more crime than river transport on the riverfront. You’ll walk streets with more holes than pavement, past boarded up buildings with more graffiti than siding. But if you listen while you walk, you can’t help but hear a heartbeat beneath the wounds and the scars. Memphis has a soul, a Human soul with history and disappointments and dreams desperately seeking redemption.  

 

CF Newsletter Summer 2024 Memphis Tabernacle corner shot

We spent a few days up in Memphis last winter visiting our daughter Hannah, who is in medical school there now. On a cold and overcast Sunday morning we went to Hannah’s church, Memphis Tabernacle (also the church of my niece Becca and her husband Jeremiah). The building which shelters Memphis Tabernacle sits like a hen, matronly and dignified, facing South Cooper Street, several blocks ‘south of the tracks,’ as they say. It is a big airy building with a complex brick façade and a storied past. Back in Dec. 1954, for instance, it was the Galloway United Methodist Church, and Johnny Cash (with Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant) played his first paid gig there on the ground floor, a missionary fund-raiser for a Ladies Bible Study, no less.

The Church faces Cooper Street, but you enter from the side, off Walker Avenue. At least we did. Now, in 30 years or more of speaking for the Cornerstone Foundation, I have walked into a lot of churches for the first time. I’m usually there as the missionary fund-raiser,

to be briefly seen and briefly heard seeking help from God’s People for God’s work among the $1-$3 a day poor, far away. But not that day. That day I was glad to just be Hannah’s Dad and Becca’s Uncle. All I was looking for was to spend a little time before the Lord with God’s elect. So, I stepped through the side door like every other person who entered the church that day, another cold and wounded soul, and was immediately warmed. I walked in anonymous and was immediately welcomed. 

 With 500 church first impressions to compare with, you develop a pretty keen sense for the heart of a church. And, the heart of Memphis Tabernacle is Worship. It was already going full-on up in the sanctuary. Up a meandering flight of worn wooden steps, from the gallery above to the arcades beneath, to the front rows and nave in the center, the place was already packed. There was an eclectic gathering of singers singing and musicians playing on the raised chancel up front. They could sing for sure, and they could play for sure, but they were not performing. They were worshipping the Lord, like everyone else. There were no spectators. There was no clear separation between “the praise and worship team” and “the congregation.” The church body was diverse, engaged, and in motion. At times the old heart pine floor felt like the deck of a ship in a storm. As the service unfolded, the lead pastors skillfully wove a message into the tapestry, but they followed no rigid “Order of Service.” There was no transition to “the main event.” Like everything else, the message was a facet of the worship. At times there seemed to be worshippers who, if even for a moment, were somehow transformed…as “with unveiled faces beholding the glory of the Lord” (2 Cor.3:18). 

Perhaps it was the drummer who was most emblematic. He was excellent technically. Like any good drummer, he was the pacemaker for the pulse of the praise. Like the best, he did so without you having to notice him personally. But he did this almost entirely with his left hand. His right arm is significantly paralyzed. As a physician I would guess Erb’s Palsy from birth. And I would guess that this debility has wrought both particular strengths and particular scars. I don’t know. I haven’t had the chance to ask. But what caught my eye more was his face in worship. His expression most of the time between serious and somber, he would every now and then smile slightly and, like others there in the congregation, his face would light up with a flicker of the light which illuminated the Mount of Transfiguration. I wondered whether in those fleeting instants of true worship, of encountering The Infinite, are our soul-wounds bound, and God heals us?

II.

CF Newsletter Summer 2024 McKenzies

Then there is Kelsey’s story. If you’ve slogged through the last couple of newsletters all the way to the News and Needs sections, then you’re at least aware that Kelsey and Jennifer McKenzie were National (Honduran) Missionaries vetted and on their way to begin service at Loma de Luz, with Kelsey in the chaplaincy and Jennifer as a physician.

They were going to start in January of this year. They were up in the USA on tourist visas last fall when, entirely unexpectedly, Kelsey went into anuric renal failure. It soon became clear that without dialysis followed by a kidney transplant, Kelsey’s long-term survival was… seriously in doubt. This (the needed renal treatment) is just not available in his home country, Honduras. In a matter of days their position in life changed from strong and capable young professionals with prospects and purpose, to homeless refugees with no money and no jobs, separated from their children by an ocean, their legal status in a foreign country tenuous. 

As a neighbor (see the parable of the Good Samaritan), as a brother, and as “one of our own,” of course we have done all we could to try to help with each day’s new challenge. But for every new “Plan of the Day,” we come up with, the Lord seems to work some unanticipated, plan-changing near-miracle for Kelsey and Jennifer. They are not out of the woods yet, but now, less than a half a year later, they are reunited with their children (Ainee and James), together in a secure and good house (on the Cornerstone Property in Woolmarket). They are legally covered with one kind of visa, with several more permanent visa opportunities they are working their way through. Kelsey is on dialysis with an excellent Nephrologist who has become his advocate in the Kidney Transplant lottery. Both Kelsey and Jennifer have prospects of meaningful work by which they can support themselves and their family and contribute to their new community. Still, there have been plenty of soul wounds, and Kelsey still needs a kidney transplant to live long.

Recently I had the blessing of worshiping with a different body of the Lord’s elect, at the Calvary Chapel Gulf Coast, just down the street from where the McKenzies live on the Cornerstone Foundation property.

Kelsey and Jennifer were leading the praise and worship. In this past half-year I have come to know a little bit of the wounds they bear. I can imagine some of the ones you can’t see. But as they worshipped in that service I saw something in their faces. I saw them lay their burdens down. And, maybe just for a few moments, I saw the same light that flickered in the drummer’s face that cold winter Sunday in Memphis Tabernacle. I wondered again if in those fleeting instants of worship, of personally encountering the Infinite, are our soul-wounds bound, and God heals us?

III.

CF Newsletter Summer 2024 LdL doctors leading worship

 On Tuesday and Thursday mornings there is something special which happens these days here at Hospital Loma de Luz. On these mornings, our young National Missionary physicians lead praise and worship,  by and for the patients in the main waiting room at the Hospital. This ongoing commitment developed kind of organically, some combination of our young doctors sensing the importance of worship, their musical giftings, their willingness to put their reservations aside and share it with the patients, and the Espíritu Santo providing the synergy.

It is a pretty rare thing, you know, medical doctors leading their patients in reaching out this way to their Creator. It’s a pretty safe bet that the patients have never seen anything like it before. But there are no spectators. The patients, with their caregivers, for just 20 minutes, put away their worries and distractions, set aside their pain, and lay down their burdens and fears to turn outward to the only One Worthy of Worship. There is something going on there which is not in conformity with this world. And, here and there, one wounded person at a time seems to be transformed by it. I see that it is still true–what is written on the gate at Loma de Luz: “Dios Obra Aqui.” God is at work here. 

It reminds me that some longed-for-day soon, all who turn to Him will be fully renewed and transformed. As it is written;”All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, And all the families of the nations will worship before You” (Psalm 22:7). But Paul is not writing here to the church of Rome about ‘some glad morning.’ He was writing about the there and then. He was writing about the here and now. If we truly want to “be able to discern the will of God and to know what is good and acceptable and perfect,” to be transformed and healed of those wounds that none can see, there must be a way in the here and now. Which brings me back to the first question. How is the mind renewed? I do not presume to have mastered this question with a formula. But as a student I can say that the context of transformation seems to be contained within the passage. This transformative renewal of the mind is not found in conformity with this world with its focus upon ‘self.’ It is found with eyes looking outward in obedience and sacrifice to someone greater than ourselves … in looking for and encountering, The Infinite One, as “with unveiled faces beholding the glory of the Lord”  (2 Cor. 3:18).

God's grace,

Jefferson McKenney, M.D.

News and Needs

1 – Hospital Loma de Luz is in need of an experienced, board certified Primary Care Physician as a long-term medical missionary.

2 – Hospital Loma de Luz is in need of Physicians qualified and capable to do Cesarian Section operation and willing to volunteer at Loma de Luz for at least one week at a time, throughout the year.

3- Licensure for 10th and 11th grades: El Camino School has full licensure for students up through the 9th grade. This in itself was a roughly 10-year-long battle, only successful by tremendous effort and God’s grace. 10th and 11th grades (the end of official high school in Honduras) have been covered with a combination of a provisional license and the cooperation of another licensed Honduran Bilingual School. Whereas in all previous Honduran government administrations, such efforts in general, and El Camino / Loma de Luz in particular, have been viewed with favor. The current government, from President to the lowliest clerk, is dominated by one party which is increasingly hostile to North Americans in general and missions efforts in particular. This is definitely true for this administration’s local Education Department officials. The licensure process and documentation have been completed for quite some time, and we are waiting for one last inspection. This inspection has to be requested by the same local Education Dept. officials who express these sentiments and oppose the school. Please pray that God’s hand would be shown in moving all things necessary for El Camino to accomplish the final licensure for 10th and 11th grades.

4- Favor from authorities on all levels: Whereas historically we have generally enjoyed an appreciated status by authorities… as per above, with this administration there is a broadly experienced, decidedly anti-North American, anti-missions sentiment at all levels of government. Please pray for favor with the authorities with all certifications, licensures, government reporting and in particular the necessary permissions to ship a much-needed container into the country and through the port without bureaucratic obstructions.

5- Vanco:  The Cornerstone Foundation now has a new giving platform, Vanco, as an alternative to PayPal. You can use it to easily make a one-time donation or recurring donation via credit card or ACH. It also allows Cornerstone to communicate God’s work at hand for Loma de Luz, El Camino, and the Children’s Center.

6 – Dra. Valeria Sofia Burdeth Izaguirre: Dra. Valeria, now the newest physician addition to the medical staff at Loma de Luz, joined us in April of this year. Valeria comes to us from Tegucigalpa, the capitol city of Honduras… Imagine moving from a city of about a million… to Appalachia (bringing your puppy, Nube), and you’ll get an idea of some of the adaptation stressors you’d be facing. Please include her in your prayers too. 

 

 

 

7- Christina Andino Reeck: Chrysti, a third generation Latin American Missionary, has been serving as Loma de Luz Administrator since January 2024. Chrysti’s 4 children have grown up at Loma de Luz; Anthony (21) and Amanda (19) are in the US in college, Adrian (17) just finished grade 11 at El Camino, and Abby (7) is going into the second grade there. 

Chrysti has served in numerous positions of leadership at Loma de Luz since first coming as a single nurse in 2000, including Director of Nursing, Human Resources Director, and Secretary of the Board of Directors of APAH. She is always willing to step in and do her best at whatever job the Lord puts in front of her, and her best is always excellent. Still, the job of Administrator covers a lot of ground, with a lot of new things to learn. So please keep Chrysti (and her children) in your prayers.

8 –  Finally, we welcome the newest member of the Loma de Luz community: Valeria Grace Lingo!  She was born to Seve and Clinton Lingo at Loma de Luz on 28 May 2024! 

 

May you be refreshed in the moments when you sense that God is “not far from every one of us” (Acts 17). And may we all be transformed by the moments when we draw near and catch a glimpse of Him.

–Sally Mahoney for the Cornerstone Foundation