By Jonathon Thorp ’12
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked,” Psalm 82:3–4 (ESV).
The early morning fog sparkled in the warming glow of the morning sunrays striking the cold earth in central Nepal. In the distance taxi horns blared, engines roared to life, and one could hear morning worship chants booming from the temple, marking the start to another cold winter day in Nepal.
Wahhh! Wahhh! Wahhh! “What is that?” thought Sandesh.* “Is that a baby crying?”
Four miles from Scheer Memorial Adventist Hospital (SMAH), Sandesh was walking down a path on his way to his destination. The piercing scream of a newborn baby was the last sound he expected to hear on this cool morning. Stepping off the pathway he approached a bush. The morning rays of light penetrated the fog and dew sparkled on every sliver of grass. It was cold. It was frigid. What he saw next broke his heart: a beautiful newborn baby girl lay wrapped in thin cloth next to a bush.
Picking the wet, cold baby out of the grass, Sandesh quickly observed how her umbilical cord had been tied with a piece of string. In a society where female babies are often unwanted she had been abandoned, left to die or to be rescued.
Wrapping the baby, Sandesh picked her up and called for help. The police arrived and a search ensued. The baby was transferred to SMAH where she was admitted into the neonatal intensive care unit. Under the compassionate and excellent care of our staff, baby Devna was warmed, fed, and cared for.
I write these words as my newly born daughter lies beside me. She is cooing, kicking her arms, and flailing her legs. She lies next to me on a sofa seat, lovingly wrapped in a warm pink blanket, helpless. It breaks my heart to think of what could have happened to baby Devna.
When we moved to Nepal, our oldest son was 2 months old. Now, three and a half years later, I am a dad to three kids. I cannot imagine my daughter lying helpless next to a bush, abandoned. I cannot imagine leaving my child to die. I cannot imagine leaving my daughter in the open, with a hope that someone might rescue her before it was too late.
Scheer Memorial’s care of baby Devna personifies David’s words in Psalm 82:3–4. For 60 years, SMAH has existed to fulfill one mission: “To provide compassionate, patient-centered care, to international standards, to all people, regardless of the ability to pay.” Our physicians, nurses, social worker, chaplain, and administrators rallied around this helpless little girl, saving her and giving her a hope and future. Two of the staff came forward requesting to adopt the baby. These beautiful gestures of care personify the mission statement and why we exist: to care for the most vulnerable. Despite their wishes, due to the laws of Nepal, hospitals cannot facilitate adoptions. Baby Devna was safely transferred to a children’s village specifically designed to care for abandoned babies.
Adoptees are incredibly special to me. My mother, due to circumstances in her biological family’s home, was placed in a care home at birth to wait for adoption. My grandparents rescued her. As the acting CEO at the time of baby Devna’s transfer to SMAH, I immediately became aware of the circumstances, and my mind raced to what it could have been like for my mother over 50 years ago. The one thought that continued to resonate in my mind was, “We all need a savior.”
I thoroughly enjoy the beautiful words of Paul throughout the New Testament. I love the entire Bible, and Paul and I just click. How he writes his narratives and what he says resonate well with my mind. His logic and attention to detail afford my mind the opportunity to grasp the beautiful reality of salvation and many other biblical themes. The struggle with sin, as Paul aptly describes in Romans 7, came to my mind as I thought about baby Devna.
As Paul asked, “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” Romans 7:24 (NIV). Through a myriad of self-centered, self-help techniques, many try to save themselves. But the only answer is a Savior-one who will rescue us from our sinful, corrupt nature.
In the broader context, Paul writes, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24–25 (NIV).
Just as Sandesh reached down through the damp, sparkling blades of dew-covered grass to rescue a cold, helpless newborn, Jesus Christ came to this world to rescue helpless humanity.
Our salvific efforts, our loudest salvific cries, are just as helpless as screams from a tiny, cold, vernix-covered newborn baby. We all need a savior.
In the last few months, the cries of increasing helplessness come to our ears from a struggling world. Every day media reports bombard our senses as we hear of unprecedented violence, looting, fires, hurricanes, locust infestations, plagues, pandemics, earthquakes, global warming, and climate change. Some secular and religious pundits argue now is the time to extract oneself from the chaos and to live as a “prepper” to survive a forthcoming economic and political apocalypse.
Jesus will come; He promised so. He is our soon-coming Savior. We know not the hour of his return, but we are called to faithfully serve until He comes. In contrast to the self-centered “prepper” mindset, service-motivated and compassionate initiatives are needed from physicians, nurses, and health care providers more today than they ever have been. The world needs to see practical, Christ-illustrated actions to contrast the chaos we are experiencing. We are called to be the hands, feet, and voice of our compassionate Savior.
Dr. Thorp along with his wife, Allison Thorp, BSN, FNP; sons, James and Joseph; and daughter, Tabitha, have the privilege of serving at Scheer Memorial Adventist Hospital, in Banepa, Nepal. Dr. Thorp is as a general internist and chief operating officer; Allison is as a family nurse practitioner in the obstetrics department.