Mission spiritually moving

Published 4:16 pm Thursday, May 28, 2009

Donna Bowles and Shari Hyde of Chelsea sang out “Shout to the Lord” amidst a small group of Christians in Nazareth while they took a break from visiting places like the Sea of Galilee and the Mt. of Beatitudes.

The faces surrounding them were familiar ones to Bowles who had visited the region in 2005. In fact, Bowles had sung the same song in the same church five years ago.

Bowles said the trip had a dramatic impact on her spirituality.

“We went into a community that was 100 percent Muslim and when we left five people said, ‘I believe you. I wish someone had told me about Jesus before,’” Bowles said. “You could see it in their faces that they truly believed and that was just amazing.”

Bowles and Hyde traveled to Jerusalem as part of a medical mission trip.

Their aim was to provide a friendly face to patients coming into the clinic.

The medical mission team consisted of two doctors, a physician’s assistant, two physical therapists, a pediatric nurse, two registered nurses and a surgical assistant. The rest were not in the medical field, but assisted by checking people in and later dispensing eyeglasses.

“It gave a new meaning to the phrase mass confusion,” Bowles said. “Many times I just closed my eyes and asked God to calm the storm. He reminded me that this is the way they live … this is life as they know it.”

Bowles said many of the children brought to the doctors had deformities or severe illnesses. She said she hoped the villagers would see Christians reaching out to them and wonder why.

“Our goal was not just the medical clinic. We wanted to of course care for their physical needs, but our ultimate goal was to tell them about Jesus … about God,” Bowles said. “By providing the clinic, we opened doors for more Christians to enter the area and maybe one day plant a church.”

Building a congregation of Christians in a world torn between Muslims and Jews can often seem dangerous, Bowles said. She had rocks thrown at her from the other side of a stone wall and at one point saw a small boy carrying around an unloaded gun. But she said she saw their world in a new light.

“There were several moments for me where I got a realization for what life is like for them,” Donna said. “Some think their war is just a battle over land, but those who have really studied scripture know that it’s a spiritual battle.”

Bowles said when she got off the plane and began driving down Highway 280 toward Chelsea she felt a true understanding of how completely different her life is from those she met in the Holy Land.