World View

A view to those out in the world into our life.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Roman Bathes at Bath, England

Stonehenge...2 days before all the Druids showed up for the Winter Solstice

Me with the hottest girl in England at Windsor. The Queen is somewhere in those rooms behind us. I am standing with the Princess.

Cross at Windsor

View from the London Eye - That is Big Ben and Houses of Parliment under a London Sunset

Sunday, December 18, 2005

London Blog

I am here in an internet cafe just off Oxford street in London. It is Sunday night at 9pm here and about 3 in the afternoon there (Fayetteville, AR, USA). We have had an amazing and whirlwind of a trip so far. I think any trip to London is rough unless you are in first class, which we weren't. I give American Airlines a D+ so far...both printers for their boarding passes quit working at the same time in Little Rock just as we were to receive ours, overbooked on almost every flight (Dave, the standbys had to keep standing), seats were uncomfortable (maybe it was just me, no it was the seats), had to do a little maintenance on our plane (just a light), and had delays. Other than that, it has been awesome. Here is the skinny:

The weather - COLD!! We weren't prepared yesterday, but did dress well today. I usually don't wear scarves, but I do here...all the time. It has been sunny both days so far, and is supposed to be tomorrow.

The Food - I don't think one can find more choices than what we are seeing here, not even in NYC. The price could be better, but hey, it's London. Have eaten some good fish and chips, some good soup, some great Pizza, and even porridge (aka, oatmeal at McDonalds). More to come on this part.

The Sights - Yesterday, a double decker bus tour of London. Saw most of the major attractions via the bus. Stopped to see Buckingham Palace and take a few pics. Today, road the tube for the first time (just like NYC's subways) and took a train to Hampton Court, about a 30 minute train ride from London. This place was awesome. It is hard to image people living in a place so large. The most impressive thing to me was the kitchen. They had a room for preparing every type of food, a game room (deer, fowl, not xBox), a veggie room, a bread room, etc. It would have made the Iron Chef jealous. Also today, we went to the London Eye and went to a Sunday night service at All Souls Words can't really describe either one. We will try to post pics on all the above later this week.

Tomorrow...Bath, Stonehinge, and Windsor Castle.

Oh, and our Hotel, the Marriott Marble Arch, is pretty impressive. Hot tub, sauna, and heated pool to take the days aches from walking away.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Pakistan Earthquake Chronicles Part 4

Woman asking for help
(This is Part 4 in a 4 part Series from Matthew McClure, MD)

God worked an amazing miracle through allowing us to minister at the UN camps. One of my good friends and fellow doctors stated it best when he said, “We may never fully realize the impact of our simple efforts over the past two days. These people my not look like much, but that is because they are broken and have lost everything. Every person looks the same in a refugee camp, but a lot of these men are leaders of their communities and of their villages, heads of families, business owners, and pillars of their individual societies. No Christian has ever had the opportunity to minister to them in their time of need. God, through this earthquake, has brought thousands of people from small villages in impossibly remote mountainous areas down to one central location, he has crumbled their hearts of stone so that they may be ministered to, and he has given us the opportunity, in a protected environment, to show love to, minister to, and pray with these people. White, western, American Christians were able to pray in the name of Jesus Christ with over 4000 fundamental Pakistani Muslims. If a missionary wanted travel to all the remote villages to reach the same people before the earthquake, it would have taken him over 5 years to do what we did in two days. Even if he would have gone, the people would not have been receptive, rejecting or even killing him. God, out of love and mercy, orchestrated through tragedy this amazing opportunity to reach the unreachable. And any seeds we planted today with these people will travel back to their villages and communities when things start to be rebuilt. After today, they will not only associate the word “Christian” and “Jesus” with the word “infidel” and “enemy”, but also with memories of people who reached out to them when they were crushed and broken, with people who showed them love and compassion, and with people who prayed with them in their greatest time of need. Who knows what doors God has opened and what seeds He has planted for His kingdom? God is doing an amazing miracle.”
I went to Pakistan expecting to find a stern and hard people, but discovered a broken hearts open to the compassion, prayer, and the gospel. They are desperately in need of God’s love and forgiveness. Before I left, God placed Isaiah chapter 6 on mind and heart. I didn’t fully comprehend why until now.

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.'
Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, 'See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.'
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?'
And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'
He said, 'Go and tell this people:

‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing but never perceiving.
Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.'

Then I said, 'For how long, O Lord?'
And he answered:

'Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the Lord has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken.
And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.'"

-Isaiah 6

I did not fully understand the passage until experiencing the brokenness and openness of the Muslims in northern Pakistan. Now is the time. Now the people are open. Now their hearts are broken. Now their ears may hear and their eyes may see and they may turn to God and receive forgiveness. Now is the time to plant the seed of the Stump of Jesse so it may sprout in their hearts and throughout the land. God has flung the door open to these people. Now is the time to reach them with His Gospel. How long will their hearts remain open? How long before the callousness of normal life returns? How long before this door is closed? “For the harvest is great, but the workers are few”.
I am grateful for any prayers or finances that have helped support me on this trip. Thank you. Please continue to pray for Pakistan, for there are many needs. The winter is coming, and with it much suffering. There is a HUGE need for tents, clothing, and food. The hospital will be overwhelmed. They desperately need orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, and female OB/Gyn. The hospital will need clinical doctors for outpatient treatment in the near future. There is some structural damage to the building’s foundation and the repairs will be expensive. Thank you for caring about Pakistan and please pray that God will continue to advance His kingdom among these people held captive in darkness.

In Christ,
Matthew McClure

Please feel free to contact me for information on how to support Kunhar Christian Hospital or Together In Him Ministries

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Pakistan Earthquake Chronicles Part 3

Girl in Pakistan
(This is Part 3 in a Series from Matthew McClure, MD)

Our team, consisting of 16 doctors and translators would travel each day to the hardest hit areas and set up a medical clinic for the community. We would treat such conditions as wound infections, abscesses, scabies, muscle and back injuries, depression, skin rashes, asthma, malnutrition, and many other medical problems. The third day in Pakistan, two doctors visited a UN tent camp to follow up on a previous day’s patient seen in the hospital. While there, they “happened” to meet the head of UNICEF in Pakistan as he was inspecting the new camp. UNICEF stands for United Nations Children’s Fund. He asked if we could help them with medical epidemiology (statistical information on disease) for the camps in the area. The current camps were growing each day and many more camps would be started in the coming month. UNICEF needed to know what kinds of diseases and medical problems were occurring among the people in the camps in order to know types and quantities of medicines to order and obtain for the upcoming winter. When we were first approached by UNICEF with the request for help with their epidemiological study, it seemed very tedious and wasteful of our most precious resource: time. We would be going tent to tent in the huge camp and interviewing the people to see what medical problems existed in their family without even being able to treat or help them. We came to show God’s love though compassionate medical care, not do research and statistics for the UN. But who can fathom the mind and plans of our God. We did not realize at first what an amazing door He opened to witness to the people. We were able to go to each tent and sit down and speak with the families not only about what illnesses they have, but to hear about their loss and to listen to their individual story. We were able to minister to their emotional and spiritual pain without being forced to filling the role of “doctor” and treat every little physical ailment. Any urgent medical condition we could send to the UN doctor on site at the camp. We were able to simply care for, listen to, and pray with the people. Being in the UN tent camp gave us a semi-protected environment to pray and minister to this once hard and calloused people. They desperately needed someone to listen to the stories of their loss and share their grief. They were able to share about their loved ones killed, their sadness, their physical pain, their fear, Allah’s anger, and their hopelessness. We in tern were able to speak about God’s love for them, His desire for them to be His children, and His forgiveness and mercy. We were able to pray for them boldly in the name of Jesus Christ, something we might have been killed for before the earthquake. The people were amazingly open and grateful for compassion and prayers. Many made statements such as “you care for us more than our own people or government”.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Girl in Pakistan

Pakistan Earthquake Chronicles Part 2

(This is part 2 in a series from Matthew McClure, MD)

The country of Pakistan is an Islamic Republic and is under “shari'a law” which means that insulting the Qur'an can bring life imprisonment and insulting the prophet Muhammad is punishable by death. It is strictly enforced in the northern mountainous areas near Kashmir. There is strong persecution of the church in Pakistan. Christians are known as “sweepers” because the only job they are allowed to have is to sweep the streets and gutters of the town in which they live. You are allowed to be a Christian if you are born into a Christian family. This means you will face a lifetime of prejudice, discrimination, poverty, suspicion, and persecution. Open evangelism and conversion from Islam are not allowed. It is punishable by imprisonment and death to the Christian and is a sure death sentence for anyone converting from Islam to Christianity. The government cannot openly kill those converting, but it is allows and expects that one’s family should and will kill anyone converting to protect their family’s and the “Prophet Muhammad’s” honor. We had eight Pakistani Christians working with our medical team as translators. They were amazing men. One of their ministry outreaches was to take new Christian converting from Islam and hide them in a new city and to give them a new identity to keep their family from killing them.

We met our translators at Islamabad National airport and traveled north six hours to Balikot. This area has around 500,000 people that live in the major cities and many surrounding mountain villages. It is a very rouged region leading up to the Himalayas, similar to the Rocky Mountains in climate and terrain. This region was the epicenter of the earthquake. It is also the epicenter of radical militant Islam and terrorist training camps in Pakistan. It is the supposed area that Osama Bin Laden fled to upon leaving neighboring Afghanistan. (Hello to the FBI agent who will undoubtedly be reading this letter after the Carnivore Program or other similar antiterrorist email scanning program intercepts such suspicious key words as Bin Laden, terrorist camps, Pakistan, and Allah. I think you guys are doing a fabulous job. Keep up the good work!) It is a place where “Westerners” have not been allowed by the government for over 15 year for fear that they (the government) could not protect the tourists or visitor from the people. All that changed with the earthquake, opening up this closed region for the desperately needed disaster relief. Not only is aid from “white, western, Christian relief organizations” allowed by the government but it was welcomed by the people.

We camped on the grounds of Kunhar Christian hospital, a small hospital run by Dr. Harun. He is a Christian national who has been serving the Muslims of Northern Pakistan for over 17 years. He moved there after completing his training and opened a small medical clinic to share the gospel and the love of Christ with the patients he served in this closed area. Through years of persecution, trial, and service, he has turned the once small clinic into a full hospital where the gospel is actively and openly preached to patients. Kunhar Christian hospital was not the only hospital in the region. There was a Pakistani medical school and hospital, a military hospital, and two Muslim hospitals. I use the term “was” because all four have been completely destroyed, killing most patients and staff. Kunhar Christian Hospital was less than a mile from the closest of these, yet no building collapsed and no one was hurt at the hospital during the earthquake. It was built by the same contractors that built many of the government buildings in the local area with the same cheap building supplies and concrete as the rest, yet it is one of the only buildings still standing for miles around. It is now the only functioning hospital for the 500,000 people living in the area. What an amazing miracle! Not only is it the only hospital left, it is one of the only buildings left standing for miles and miles. What a testimony to God’s sovereignty and protection. It has not gone unnoticed by the people. There is much help needed though. Before the earthquake, Dr. Harun, the only physician for the hospital, was seeing an average of 100 patients a day in his clinic, not counting those admitted to the hospital. Now there in an even greater numbers of patients that need medical attention. At the moment, there are short term foreign medical teams that are helping bear the large patient load, but each day the numbers increase as the tent cities grow and as the surrounding communities hear with amazement the there is still a hospital standing. As international attention and media coverage dwindle, so will the relief help to the area. Though it is a tremendous blessing and opportunity to be flooded with so many Muslim patients, the coming winter will be a great trial for the small hospital. Please pray for Dr. Harun and the Kunhar Christian Hospital. Pray for continued support for the hospital in terms of staff and finances, for boldness, endurance and rest for the staff, and for openness of the patients’ hearts to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Earthquake destruction

Pakistan Earthquake Chronicles. Part 1

(The following is part 1 in a series of Matt McClure's first hand account from his trip to Pakistan for relief efforts from the earthquake)

You are walking down a busy street, headed to the market. It is 9:00 am on a normal sunny average day in your home town, when you hear and feel a low rumbling vibration, like a distant train. Suddenly the earth lunges violently under your feet, throwing you upward. You hit and roll hard. You are still rolling. No wait, it’s not you that’s moving, but everything around you that is in a violent upheaval. The low rumble is now a deafening roar. You cannot tell whether you actually hear or feel the roar that fills your head. Any thought of trying to stand is quickly dissipates as the ground jolts and lunges with a life of its own. The two story row of shops on the right side of the street collapses into a cloud of jagged concrete and rebar wire. You grunt and roll to the left as a chunk of concrete the size of basketball crashes into your ribs. Although it has seemed like a lifetime, it has only been 20 seconds since the world turned upside down with the violent shaking that would register a 7.8 on the rector scale. The earthquake will continue for an astounding 7 minutes; time without end in your own personal hell. You finally force yourself to up to your feet. With each timid step you take, you await the ground to retaliate with its fierce anger and power. But all is still. You cough and struggle to see through the dust and smoke. You have to get your bearings so you can get home to check on your family. There are new sounds filling the clouds of dust; the sounds of wailing and desperate pleas for help. You finally reach home, clinging to the hope that everyone will be alright. Those hopes sink as you see the rubble that was once your home. You call for your wife and your two year old daughter. There is no answer. You begin to franticly dig through the rubble. Each jagged piece of concrete you fling aside adds a new gash to hands, but there is no time to worry about the bleeding. You glace to the right and see your oldest son running in from the field. He begins to help you dig. After two hours of digging, you know that all hope is lost. You send your son to check on the other two children who were in school in the city, as you wrap your hands in a torn shirt. By dark, you have managed to recover and burry the bodies of your wife and child from the remains of your home. Your oldest son has returned with the news that the school collapsed burying most of the children under tons of concrete and steel. One of your children has reportedly survived and was taken to a hospital hours away with many broken bones and internal injuries. The fate of the other child is unknown. It will be over a week before his body will be removed from the ruins of the school. You lay down in the grass next to what was once your home. There have been three aftershocks since the initial earthquake. And as you lay your head on the cold ground and close your eye to contemplate how your will get to the hospital tomorrow to check on your other surviving child, the fourth aftershock angrily shakes the ground, reminding you of Allah’s fierce anger. Only Allah could have done this. Only “The One God” has this much power. He is angry at his servants. The people have sinned. His anger burns against you. You have sinned. Your sin is why he has taken your wife. This is why he has taken half your children. This is why he has taken your home, your possessions, and your food. You have nothing. You have nothing left at all. Allah should have crushed you too. It would have been more merciful. Winter is fast approaching and the snow will come soon. What will you do? Perhaps then Allah will kill you and the remainder of your family. There is much suffering ahead. You are afraid. You must do better. You must sin less. You must pray more fervently. Perhaps then Allah’s anger will subside and he will spare his servant. Perhaps not. Perhaps Allah’s judgment has already been made against you. You roll over and pull your coat tight around you to combat the bitter bite of the cold night air. It will be a long winter. You miss your wife. You feel too weary to cry, yet the tears come. You drift off to sleep wondering how you will get to the distant hospital to find news on your daughter. You do not yet know that the last aftershock caused landslides that will block the mountain pass to the hospital for the next several days.

As I sat down to type a letter to those who had supported me through finance and prayer on my trip to do disaster relief in Pakistan, I wondered how I would ever convey a true picture of the destruction of the earthquake along with the brokenness and hopelessness of the people. A story seemed the only logical way. This was not a specific story of a single person that I recant exactly, but a general one heard a hundred times over with slight variations in numbers of family members dead and where the person was when the earthquake started. I use it so that you may understand the situation that is unfolding in Pakistan, but even more so, that you may empathize with the tragedy and loss suffered by the people. Many people lost less loved ones, many people lost more. Everyone lost their homes and possessions. Everyone is broken. Their lives are broken, their hearts are broken, and their spirit is broken. Never before has there been such a tragedy in this area of the world. But our God is so great and He is in complete control. Thus, I believe that never before has there been such blessing and opportunity in this area of the world than now. I hope that by the end of this letter that you will echo this belief.