Memories of my childhood in the rural countryside of South Korea flood me during each of the so far 14 trips to North Korea. But it is with sadness in that many scenes, such as those of oxen and hand-plowed fields, represent suffering and hardship. My heart breaks for the people of North Korea. It is such a privilege to be able to work among them and to hear about their lives and their stories.
Taking care of patients anywhere in the world gives one a glimmer into hearts and homes of people in different walks than my own. But it is because so few get to share their stories and be heard with compassion that working in North Korea is SO important and purposeful. We ask how they came to contract Hepatitis and who in their family has suffered from the disease. “I’m so sorry” seems so insufficient of a response as one hears how someone’s mother, brother, sister, aunt, etc. all died with the disease. One can see the fear in their eyes as they now foresee the same fate since they have just been diagnosed with this dreaded illness. “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).” Oh, that we could offer them the real, eternal life we know. But the best we can do is give them antiviral medications to sustain them through this illness in this earthly life and pray and hope that somehow they will find the true Physician and complete Healer.
Each of us is called to a specific task, and though it may seem inconsequential or just a “band-aid” for a bigger problem, let us do what we can and trust God to do the rest! It is all He calls us to - the small things! May we serve Him with all our hearts, souls and minds; loving our neighbors as ourselves!
Contributed by: Dr. Sissel Topple