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Helen Roseveare

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Source: Magazine Name, January 1, 2006

Helen Roseveare is a short, no-nonsense Irish doctor, with steely blue eyes and a wry wit. When I met her in 1994, she was a spry seventy and reminded me of a favorite elderly aunt or a grandmother. Just looking at her, one would not guess that she had spent the better part of her life serving Christ as a medical missionary in Zaire—or that she had been beaten and raped repeatedly by rebels during the Simba Rebellion of the early ’60s. Despite her incredible suffering and subsequent emotional breakdown, she managed to come back to her work and accomplish amazing things for Christ in the jungles of that land.

I was in Kenya interviewing her for a radio program. As she spoke of her horrible experience with the rebels, a thunderstorm passed overhead and rain pounded on the tin roof of the cottage. When she was finished, she said, “I’ll have nightmares tonight from this.”

I said, “I would never have asked you for an interview if I had known it would have this effect on you.”

She dismissed my remark with a short wave of her hand: “No, no. The Lord told me that if I’m going to tell this story, I can’t be like a phonograph record. I’ll have to feel it each time I tell it.”

Then she said something incredible: “People would ask me, ‘Was it worth all the suffering—what you accomplished there?’ And I’d tell them, no, it’s been too costly. All I got done doesn’t offset what I paid for personally.

“But then the Lord spoke to me. He said, ‘Helen, that’s the wrong question. The question is not, Was it worth it? The question is, Am I worthy?’ And I said, ‘Of course you are, Lord. You are worthy.’ ”

I was talking that day with a woman set right side up, her head in heaven and her feet planted firmly on the earth. Remarkable things happen to our heads and feet and hands when that happens. Because of what we have seen of heaven, we go places and do things we would never have dreamed of.

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