A Call for Bravery and Generosity…

Jon Stern

Molly and I recently reconnected with a dear friend, Keith, who lived with us in Kenya for several months in 1995.  Over breakfast, Molly and I discovered that he has been on dialysis for the past five years as he waits in a long line for a kidney from wherever the cue is formed. His time is running out as the many other patients ahead of him and the side effects of the disease conspire against his survival. After hearing his story, I invited he and his wife to visit us in Redding and visit the Healing Rooms at Bethel Church where thousands come from all over the world and receive amazing healings from the Lord.

They made plans to come on the last weekend of February;  however, more complications put him into the hospital which postponed the trip.  Around that time, I saw on his Facebook page, an advertisement from the UCSD Medical Center in San Diego about the “donor swap program” which answers the question of compatibility. Even if the donor is not compatible with the patient in need of the kidney, the nationwide program will receive the donor kidney and, in turn, get a compatible replacement within 48 hours.
When I saw the add, my heart said, “I have two healthy kidneys, I can surely give one away, so my friend can live a long life and be there for his kids and grand kids.”  So, I signed up to begin the process of discovery to see if my kidneys are indeed as healthy as I supposed they were. I did not think of the implications for my own family, should I put my own life at risk. I figured I would have time during the long application process to make discuss it and make the final decision.
Now, that  I have done the initial steps of getting my name in the system to begin the process of discovery, I have found out some very interesting things about myself, my own kidney health and about how much my family loves me. After the initial 30 minute interview, I discovered that I am at high risk for donating one of my kidneys, because I have high blood pressure that is mainly the result of high Uric Acid levels in my body. I’m also about 30 lbs. over the weight limit for their program. If I still decide I want to donate a kidney, I must loose the weight and get the BP down to normal.
Now the question of “Why?” Why would I, the father of 7, the grand father of 11 with a lot of life in me, take a risk such as this?  My initial answer is that I don’t exactly know why.
I have lived with a lot of pain in the past few years, so it could be said that maybe in my pain,
1. Do I have some hidden death wish? But, I say, “No” to that. I believe that my life is not my own and that my life and times are in the Lord’s hands. And, He loves me and wants to bless me with long life.
Molly and I are also in a season of obscurity and on a sabbatical, out of public ministry and out of view. Which also means we are lonely at times. So, one could ask..
2. Am I wanting more attention drawn to myself? I do not feel comfortable in obscurity. I don’t think anyone does. I don’t think it is for the attention, because I understand that this is a season, not the rest of my life. Also, a big part of the season is becoming more intimate with the Lord. My cup is becoming more and more full as I develop my intimacy with the Lord.
When I go back to the original motivator that made me consider stepping over the line of safe into the land of danger to myself, I remember the value I learned many years ago from my father. “If you have two of anything, you are rich and can give one away…”
3. Was I motivated by generosity?
Another thought I had was that someone needs to do this, or my friend will die a pre-mature death.  I can do something about that… My action can really make a difference in my friend’s life.
4. Was I motivated by compassion?
This thought was a question. Keith, no doubt, has many friends and this has been going on for a good five years. Why has nobody stepped up the plate and given a kidney for him to live? I got that answer after my initial “yes”, and after I started down the road of discovery. Not only does Keith need a willing volunteer; he needs one with a kidney that will not do him harm, but will actually serve him well for the rest of his life. I discovered that several people had already agreed to do the same thing I did and start down that road to potentially give the gift of life to my friend.
AND… That is why I am writing about this… I need anyone who reads this to seriously consider donating one of your kidneys to Keith. While I do all I can to reduce my weight and get my BP under control, my process may take too much time and my friend might die in the process. But, if the volunteers increase, one may qualify in time.
One last thought… The nurse who interviewed me last week said that (having read of my life of service in Africa in the application) she was not surprised that I was volunteering to become a donor. Seeing that I had lived my life in service of others in other nations, her comment was that a majority of donors are people like me, who are willing to take life and death risks. Does this surprise you? It did me… I thought most people would be willing to give one of their blessings away, especially if they have two… What about you?
If you’d like to be tested go to www.UCSDlivingdonor.org or call 858-657-7729. Please use “Keith Hosea 111472″as the reference when you call or login.
By the way, the Corona Virus is especially dangerous for the elderly and those who have serious health issues like kidney failure… My friend is in great need. And… last week I met another friend who is in the same need. Where are you brave ones? Where are you generous ones? God knows where you are…

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