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Rough People

July 26, 2022

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, ESV).

There are so many stories to tell from working as an oncology nurse. I remember this young 20-something-year-old male who’d had a transplant, out of isolation, and now dealing with horrible GVHD. I walked down the hallway and outside of his room were some of the roughest looking young people I’d ever seen. Ones that might cause me to walk on the other side of the street just to play it safe. I greeted them and asked if anyone was in the room. They said his girlfriend. I went in and talked with her a bit just to introduce myself and get a sense of her and where she was at with what was going on. She was teary. I gave her a hug and asked if she would like me to pray for him. She said, “Yes,” and then I asked if she would mind if I invited the others in, and she said that was ok. I invited them in about six or seven of them, in their black leather attire, chains, tattoos and funky hair. I shared what I was going to do, and then the Holy Spirit just led me to ask them if they knew the Lord’s prayer. They all replied, “No.” So, I smiled and said, “That’s ok, how about we stand around the bed and hold hands and I’ll pray.” I said the Lord’s prayer and ended with my own prayer. When I was done, several had tears in their eyes, and his girlfriend was crying. The Lord let me see them with His eyes—broken children in need of my love and God’s love. They thanked me and gave me a hug when I left. I don’t know what happened to the patient or his circle of friends, but in looking back, I know God did something in their lives. And somehow, He used me in the doing. — Tami Borneman

Rough people need Jesus, too.

What a beautiful testimony from an oncology nurse who loves the Lord and loves people. We can learn so much from her.

First of all, it’s natural to feel uneasy around those whose lives are different from ours. Especially scary different. We all are most comfortable when we are around those like us. Training in unconscious bias may help us recognize the affinity for our own, but it is the presence of Christ in our lives that overcomes such cultural barriers. “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him” (Romans 10:12, ESV).

Secondly, Tami’s love sliced right through that culture barrier, her love for them and God’s love through her to them. Love brings a boldness toward serving others that platitudes and cultural morality can never know. It’s the love of the cross, brought to life within us by the presence of Jesus in our hearts. We need that love-born boldness, and with it we need to dive into uncomfortable cultures and let Him do His work.

Finally, it is all God’s work. Look what God did with that boldness born from love and guided by His Holy Spirit. The tears that Tami saw were tears of change. Those in that room praying the Lord’s prayer will never be the same—all of us need to pray with Tami that their change will stick and grow like a mustard seed in fertile soil (Mark 4:32).

Rough people need Jesus too. However, they will never know Him unless people transformed by Christ’s love carry that message with boldness and love from gentle worlds into the roughness of life.

Dear Father,
Help me to love so deeply that I will be bold and share.

Al Weir, MD

Al Weir, MD

After leaving academic medicine, Dr. Weir served in private practice at the West Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee from 1991-2005 before joining the CMDA staff as Vice President of Campus & Community Ministries where he served for three years from 2005-2008. He is presently Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Program Director for the Hematology/Oncology fellowship program. He is also President of Albanian Health Fund, an educational ministry to Albania where he has been serving for 20 years. He is the author of two books: When Your Doctor Has Bad News and Practice by the Book. Dr. Weir’s work has also been published in many medical journals and other publications. Al and his wife Becky live in Memphis, Tennessee, and they have three children and three grandchildren. Dr. Weir is currently serving on CMDA's Board of Trustees.

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