Missions

The Story Behind One Image

It’s easy for me to forget the importance of photographs. I have literally thousands of digital images but I’m so thankful that God encouraged me to buy a Polaroid camera earlier this year. I wanted to have the ability to give someone a tangible photograph, right then and there, no editing or developing or sending off to the printer. When we met Asha* and her family, I knew this was an opportunity to bring out the Polaroid camera. I’m so thankful for this beautiful reminder of the power of one simple image.

During outreach phase of my Medical Discipleship Training School (DTS), I’ve seen God work in such amazing ways. We just spent the first six weeks of outreach in Vijayawada, India. My team met Asha at one of our medical clinics on the street. We set up on the front porch of a local neighbourhood, offering free medical checks to anyone in the area. Unlike many patients, however, Asha didn’t come to find a solution to her body pains or to receive medications.

She came because she wanted prayer.

Asha is 54 years old and has just been diagnosed with cancer. She came to our clinic with her daughter, who is visiting her from about six hours away to care for her and help her through this time. There wasn’t anything we could do for her in a simple medical clinic, but she knew that we did have what she truly needed – Jesus.

My fellow student Breanna, a nurse from the United States, had the opportunity to give Asha a massage with coconut oil. She had a conversation with her and her daughter about how their faith in Jesus is getting them through this tough time. Asha’s daughter also experiences hardships back home, but they both radiate so much joy and peace despite their tough circumstances. The time spent in the clinic setting wasn’t enough, though. When Breanna shared Asha’s story with our team, we knew we wanted to show her even more care.

The next evening, our team set out to track down Asha’s home. It reminded me of an episode of Dora the Explorer with all of the twists and turns we had to take to reach our destination. My teammates and I wondered if we were being intentionally distracted from our true purpose and worried about making it there and back for dinner, but God worked all things for good. Along our path to Asha’s house, we prayed for children, saw one man seeking healing receive Jesus in his life, and had the opportunity to encourage a sister in Christ that was needing some love. It was that last sister that finally pointed us to Asha’s house, and we got there at exactly the right time. It was amazing to see the faces of Asha and her daughter light up when they recognised Breanna walking up to their home.

Once inside, we again massaged Asha’s sore legs and went around singing praise songs, reading from the Bible in Asha’s own language in Telugu (local language in Southern India), and encouraging our sisters. Family members and friends crowded at the door to see what was going on in the home, and we did our best to maintain a peaceful and private environment for our new friends. Eventually, we ended up with only a few family members looking on. As we were about to finish up our evening, my teammate Felix piped up with a question.

“I know this is random,” he said, “but I just feel like I need to ask if anyone in the room wants to receive Jesus tonight.” Our translator asked each individual, and one man spoke out a “yes.”

It was Asha’s father.

We invited him from his position in the corner of the room closer to the centre. We asked him if we could tell him more about Jesus. As we shared, he nodded in understanding. Through translation we learned that he knew about Jesus – He had seen Him in dreams. Asha’s father said he was ready to forsake all other gods and begin a relationship with Jesus, so we prayed with him to receive salvation. It was amazing to watch Asha’s face light up as her father gave his life to follow Jesus; the God that has been alongside her through so much. I can only imagine what a reassurance that evening was for her, not knowing how much longer she has in this life but knowing now that she will see him again.

Before we left for the night, I told Asha that I wanted to give her a photograph as a gift. The family grouped up and I took two shots on my Polaroid – one for Asha, and one for her daughter to bring home once she heads back to Hyderabad.

I love looking at this simple Polaroid image, even though it’s not perfect lighting and depth of field like I would usually want an image to be. This image tells a beautiful story: one of a woman who has peace through hard times; and a daughter who freely serves and loves her mother despite her own hardships. Through this Polaroid, a story is depicted of a man who can now experience the same peace that his daughter has at such a low point in life.

And most of all, this image represents the story of the Jesus who heals, loves, and lays down His own life for us.

 

This story was first published on Leanne Miller’s personal blog and we’ve adapted it slightly to fit our website magazine.
*Names changed for safety.