From left to right: Brian Schonewald, Nadeen Kamel, Jessica Bedele
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Isaiah 52:7
I did not want to do this. In fact, I was avoiding this task by all means possible. This opportunity came to me some time in December when the director of SMI, Holly, mentioned to a few groups of students at my medical school about the opportunity to perform health screens and share the Gospel with the people in Philadelphia. Initially, I thought this was great and I would not mind doing that at all. After all, I have always wanted to integrate my faith with medicine. But then, she added that it would be in one of the most crime and drug ridden cities in the whole United States: Kensington, North Philly. I immediately thought to myself “umm, yea nah I am good. No, thanks.” Then she kept talking. We needed to raise money to participate in the program. I chuckled in my head and said to myself “ Yeah, right. Why should I give money when I need money? Besides I want to travel and work this summer. Yea, I am definitely not doing this.” … oh, but God.
Looking back, it is so funny that I even had those thoughts because I have truly had the best three weeks in my entire life here at the Summer Medical Institute. I cannot believe that I almost ran away from operating in my God giving gifts, from sharing the word of God to people who needed it the most, from bringing people to know Christ, here in my own backyard in Philadelphia! I can literally write hundreds of little moments and big moments on this 3-week journey that portray so much beauty, love and joy of the Lord Jesus Christ. All I can say to sum it up is that my God is good!
As a team, we have seen at least 10 people give their lives to Christ. I have seen individuals of different ages and from all walks of life cry like babies because they experienced the power of the Holy Spirit. I have sat and listened for hours on end of the stories and testimonies of the people in North Philadelphia. Sadly, I have also seen the hurt, pain, and dysfunction that the opioid epidemic has caused in the community. The enemy has stolen so much (John 10:10) from these people that it was difficult for some to see the light of Jesus. We spoke to people who lived on the streets, people who were in and out of jail and people who served God. I cannot fully encompass the emotions, the spirit, the joy, the heartbreak, the pain, the lessons, and the peace that we saw and encountered. Again, all I can say is my God is good.
I have not saved anybody because God does the saving. I like to think that my team and I have acted as sowers, planters, plowers and waterers in this city. We have used what God has placed inside of us to share with the city. God instructed us to Arise and Shine (Isaiah 60:1-2) and we took heed. Led by His mighty hand, we encountered who He wanted us to encounter. It is so amazing that I got to do this in my own backyard in Philadelphia. I have learned so much and it is my prayer that my feet stay beautiful (Romans 10:15) wherever I find myself so that people from all nations and tribe would be able to hear the Good News and believe in the God who is mighty to save.
To be honest, I was scared. I felt inadequate, but my God told me all that what I had was all that I needed. And you know what’s wild?! God provided the money I needed with no hard effort on my end at all. He also gave me the opportunity to work AND travel! So, I was able to get and do what I wanted and still serve in the community. Look at God! I thank God for the beautiful feet that walked alongside me to do God’s work. I thank God for leading me to the right people to speak to. I thank God Almighty for the lives that came to know Christ and accepted Christ. My God is good!
– Jessica Dede Bedele