Sunday, January 25, 2015

“If a man hasn’t found something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

I would alter the above quote to: “If you haven’t found someone or something you would die for you have not begun to live.”  I will illustrate this with a story that has been told and retold in so many versions for over forty years that it has reached urban myth legend status.  However, even legends and myths all were based on some core truth, somewhere.  I am repeating the story here as I first heard it in the seventies from Colonel John W. Mansur, U.S.A.F. who said it was true, and I had no reason for doubt:
     The mortar rounds landed in an orphanage run by a missionary group in the small Vietnamese village. The missionaries and one or two children were killed outright and several more children were wounded, including one girl about eight years old.
     People from the village sent for help to a neighboring town that had radio contact with the American forces. Finally a U.S. doctor and nurse arrived in a jeep with their medical kits. They established that the young girl was the most critically injured. Without quick action, she would die from shock and loss of blood.
     A blood transfusion was imperative so a donor with a matching blood type was required. A quick test showed that neither American had the correct blood type, but several of the uninjured orphans did.
    The doctor spoke some pidgin Vietnamese, and the nurse a smattering of high-school French. Using that combination together with much impromptu sign language, they tried to explain to their young, frightened audience that unless they could replace some of the girl's lost blood, she would certainly die. Then they asked if anyone would be willing to give blood to help.
     Their request was met with wide-eyed silence. After several long moments, a small hand slowly and waveringly went up, dropped back down, and then went up again.
     "Oh, thank you," the nurse said in French. "What is your name?"  "Hung," came the mumbled reply.  Hung was quickly laid on a pallet, his arm swabbed with alcohol, and the needle inserted in his vein. Through this ordeal Hung lay stiff and silent. After a moment, he let out a shuddering sob, quickly covering his face with his free hand.
     "Is it hurting, Hung?" the doctor asked.  Hung shook his head, but after a few moments another sob escaped, and once more he tried to cover up his crying. Again the doctor asked him if the needle hurt, and again Hung shook his head.  But now his occasional sobs gave way to a steady, silent crying, his eyes screwed tightly shut, his fist in his mouth to stifle his sobs.
     The medical team was concerned because the needle should not have been hurting him. Something was obviously very wrong. At this point, a Vietnamese nurse arrived. Seeing the little one's distress, she spoke to him, listened to his reply, and answered him in a soothing voice.
     After a moment, the boy stopped crying, opened his eyes and looked questioningly at the Vietnamese nurse. When she nodded, a look of great relief spread over his face. Looking up, the Vietnamese nurse said quietly to the Americans, "He thought he was dying. He misunderstood you. He thought you had asked him to give all his blood so the little girl could live."
     "But why would he be willing to do that?" asked the navy nurse.
The Vietnamese nurse repeated the question to the little boy, who answered simply, "She's my friend."
    The point the story makes is more important than whether it is really true or not—there are millions who would give their lives for their friends and even people they don't know or who have yet to be born and truly heed the words of Christ, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.”  (John 15: 13)   The true love of Christ knows no bounds and is sacrificial.  Christ told us to “love one another as I have loved you.”  We know that Christ was beaten and crucified to prove His love for us.  His resurrection freed us from death.  If we are not willing to give our lives in return for His sacrifice for us, then we have yet to learn to truly live.  For our lives to have purpose, they must have meaning.  Christ has shown us the way, the truth, and the life. 


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