Cardiac Transplantation: The replacement of a patient's diseased or injured heart with a healthy donor heart.
Think for a moment about the monumental process of removing a person's heart. Taking what may be the single most important organ in a person's body out because it is not functioning properly. Assessing the current level of damage as being so great that there is no other course of action but full removal.
Then think for a moment about the cost of the donor. One must die so that another person may live. The donor does not receive a new heart. Their heart is, however, healthy enough for the new recipient. The donor's gift in death becomes life for someone else.
I think this physical example is not unlike the emotional and spiritual journey of a mission trip. Someone gives of their life so that another may receive life or hope or food or clothes or comfort or ...
A few weeks ago Gina, Noah and I stood at the Hedman Alas bus station in La Ceiba, Honduras waiting for our heart recipients to arrive. A group of 6 young ladies whom we had never met, but already loved. Little did we know that our hearts would be extracted over the next month and placed in each one of them.
It was already dark, and still 85 degrees, by the time they arrived. Gretchen, Hannah, Ryan, Kate, Brittany and Amber came pouring out of the bus with another half dozen Americans. They were tired from a long day of travel and weighed down with their huge backpacks. We were their 11th country on their WorldRace. Their 11th host. Their 11th ministry stop. Just one more location on their journey home? Maybe we could be more.
A few greetings with our new family of strangers and we were off to get them settled into their sleeping quarters and then dinner. Over the next month we visited orphanages, hospitals, police stations, churches, schools and feeding centers. We laughed together. We cried together. We prayed for the sick and fed the hungry together. And in all of these activities and meals and conversations, our hearts were slowly excised. Piece by piece this cardiac transplantation took place.
We heard the stories of their visits to other countries. We heard their family histories back in the US. We got to know their brothers and sisters through pictures and tales of family Christmas and sorrow and joy. They hugged my wife. They played Uno with my son. They have our hearts.
And I'm forever grateful for it.
Cardiac Transplantation occurs when the patient's heart is too sick or injured to continue pumping. It's often times the last chance for the heart recipient. And the final gift of the heart donor. Each of us on this earth experience the impact of life. Our hearts grow. We receive love and betrayal. We experience joy and sorrow. Our hearts gain strength and sometimes, often times, our hearts get sick. Our hearts become bitter by betrayal. Our hearts become sour by sorrow. Our hearts become timid by trials. And we begin to die. We need a new heart.
In the book of Ezekial chapter 36, verse 26, God makes an incredible promise to us. He says, "I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." God Himself describes the first heart transplant. He promises that He will not leave us in a sick and injured condition of cardiac arrest. But that He will become our ultimate heart donor and give us life.
As Gina, Noah and I poured out our own hearts into our team, I could feel the Spirit of God filling us with a new heart; filling us with His heart. I could feel His love for people growing inside of us. I could feel my own bitterness and sorrow and fear leaving as His grace and joy and boldness came flooding in. I could feel my heart of stone being removed and His heart of flesh was carefully sewn in and began pumping new life.
This supernatural cardiac transplantation is indeed a miracle. Yet it occurs through the very practical action of "Love Your Neighbor". It first requires the extraction; the emptying of self; the giving of your own heart. When we are empty, then we are ready to receive His new heart.
We met our team prepared to give to them. We were there to be the heart donors, and indeed we poured our hearts into them. But in so doing, we became the recipients. We became the patients getting the new heart of flesh. Thank you team #kylo for the month you gave us and thank you God for you have given me life.