Bad News May Be a Burning Bush

I understand frustration with media negativity. But bad news may be God’s invitation to work alongside him.

On a church mission trip in 2004, 65-year-old Ramon Billhimer looked out a bus window in Uganda and saw a little girl taking dirty, stagnant water from a muddy ditch. The water was for a garden, Ramon assumed, or maybe livestock. She snapped a picture and offhandedly commented to her translator that the children sure went a long way to get water for their animals.

“Oh, that’s not for animals, Ramon,” the translator replied. “That’s her family’s drinking water.”

Ramon had already noticed, while visiting rural churches, how sick many Ugandan children were. She’d assumed they all had malaria, but soon learned at least half were chronically ill with dysentery and other consequences of drinking dirty water. The sight out the bus window became a turning point in Ramon’s life—the little girl with her jug, a burning bush.

For the rest of her time in Uganda, Ramon cried herself to sleep. A few days after the bus conversation, while visiting a Ugandan hospital, she met a little girl hooked up to IVs and lying quietly in bed. Ramon tried to engage the child and told her she’d come back to visit. A few days later, she made good on her promise, but the girl was gone. She was dead from dysentery.

As Ramon has told the story over the years, she went out into the hallway of the hospital and screamed, “God! Why don’t you do something!”

And she heard a response: Why don’t you?

So she did. She started by explaining to her husband, Bob, why she felt compelled—in the stage of life American society says should be devoted to rest and relaxation—to provide clean water to people nearly 9,000 miles away from their home in Midland, …

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