Where Are The Nine?
What was your reaction to the photo? Was it shock? Was it horror? Was it laughter? Was it empathy? Was it compassion? Was it fear? Was it disgust? If you saw this man when you were a teenager what would your reaction have been? Let me assure you that as I have shared this story with all age groups the reactions have been numerous, even laughter. For the most part people, after the shock have felt compassion. In 1974 I was walking the cobblestone streets of Scotland. Just in front of me I noticed a young mother holding a newborn with a toddler walking behind. From the back the little boy looked just like my nephew who was about the same age, I was excited to see what he looked like. As I passed by him I glanced over at the little boy. He had a roll of mints in his hand and one in his little fingers. He was just ready to put the mint into his mouth until he saw me. He looked up at me and raised his hand and ask “do you want one?” In shock I quickly said no and turned away. The little boy was disfigured.
Thirty five years later on a trip home from Las Vegas, I stopped at the El Capitan Hotel Casino in my home town of Hawthorne Nevada. Just as I was leaving the parking lot I noticed the profile of this man. I was a bit stunned to say the least. My next thought was “what has life been like for him?” I immediately thought of a little toddler that I had seen in 1974.
I drove the 140 miles to my home in Reno thinking mostly about this person. After about a week I made a phone call to an old friend who worked at the El Capitan by the name of Kenneth Jones. I felt a little uneasy asking questions about someone that I had never met before.
I said “Ken what can you tell me about that man who has the large nose. “ Ken said “oh that is Bill, he’s a real nice guy.” I had no idea how I would be able to help him, but I asked Ken to tell him about me, that he could trust me and to see if he would send me a picture. I didn’t know what I could do but I thought I could do something.
To my delight a picture came about a week later. I didn’t know it at the time but Heaven was already working ahead of me. I called a local ear, nose and throat doctor that I knew through my church and asked the secretary if Dr. Dyches worked on people who had this condition. I didn’t know it at the time but the medical definition for this disorder is, Rhinophyma Acne Rosacea. She said he did. I arranged to bring the picture by and explained that Bill had no ability to pay for the surgery. I told the secretary that I would raise the money.
As the secretary showed the picture around the office, one of the staff was more stunned than anyone else. A week earlier she had been in Hawthorne visiting her sister, they were sitting around the swimming pool at the El Capitan when Bill walked by. The sister asked “do you think that Doctor Dyches could do something for him”? In less than one week a picture of Bill was at the office of Dr. Dyches.
I called my friend Ken and arranged an appointment for Bill to visit Dr Dyches. Within a week an appointment was set and a surgery scheduled. I then took a couple pictures and went to visit a few people to see if they might be interested in helping pay for the surgery. The reactions were varied. This was the most interesting experience of the whole ordeal.
I visited several seasoned Christians, some with extensive wealth. My introduction went like this. ” I have a friend who needs a surgery and I was wondering if you could help”. I then laid the picture down in front of them and waited for their response. One had no response and quickly handed the picture back to me. One painfully wrote out a check for two hundred dollars, another did the same. I then went to a recently converted Christian and showed him the picture. With sympathy and emotion in his voice he said “how much do you want?” He then took the picture and showed a friend next door who said “I want to help”. I then went to the second newly converted Christian and showed him the picture. He said “I’ll get my check book.”
I didn’t know how much this was all going to cost but we at least had a start, so the surgery was scheduled. Bill came to Reno and Dr Dyches performed the surgery. I called Dr Dyches to arrange payment. Dr Dyches did the surgery at no charge. The only thing that we had to pay for was the Anesthesiologist and the outpatient facility. And wouldn’t you know it , the bill came to the exact dollar that we had raised. When God is involved, He blesses us with his tender mercies.
I had never met Bill to this point. There was a special woman that was able to look into Bill’s heart. They were married just before the surgery. A couple years later I went to my 30 year class reunion. There I met Bill for the first time. My heart was filled with more compassion then, than when I first saw him. As I approached him, Kenneth Jones was there and introduced us. Before Ken introduced Bill I said “I know who this is , this is Bill ------. Bill’s response was surprising but not unexpected. We shook hands. Bill didn’t look up, didn’t say a word and quickly walked away. There was still emotional healing yet to take place after years of suffering.
I thought of the ten lepers in Luke 17. The record states “there met him ten men that were lepers and stood afar off.” Lepers were outcast. Whenever any approached a leper, the leper was required to warn the approacher by yelling leper, leper, unclean, unclean. This was the life of the leper, always warning others of their curse, always living outside of the community in poverty with others thus afflicted.
In the case of Bill I thought how, instead of him shouting unclean, unclean, to warn people to stay clear, it must have been quite the opposite with remarks and the jeers and comments passerby’s made about him.
In the bible story, Jesus cleansed the ten men, but only one came to him and rendered his thanks. I’ve often thought how Jesus must have felt when no thanks were returned by the other nine. Perhaps they were so thrilled when he made them clean that they were caught up in the moment. Aren’t we all guilty of that from time to time?
Dr. Dyches truly performed a miracle with the surgery on Bill’s nose. It takes time for the inner miracle to bare fruit. Even though Bill had a more normal size nose after the surgery, he still suffered from the emotional scars from years of pain. He still looked down most of the time to avoid eye contact. Somehow this became a shell of protection to Bill, perhaps a safe boundary for him.
The one who returned to the Savior to offer thanks had a deeper healing than did the other nine. When the Samaritan fell to his knees and glorified God, Jesus said “Arise go thy way thy faith hath made thee whole.” Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarded of them who diligently seek Him.
I desired no applause for any good that happened in this event with Bill. It was clear from the very beginning that God’s hand was at work here. I didn’t repeat this story for several years, but a lesson was repeated to me as it has been over and over in my life. God could send angels of mercy to do all the compassionate service that is in such great need here on the earth. He sends us instead.
While serving as a missionary for the L.D.S church in Scotland in 1974, I purchased a tailor made suit. It fit like it had been made just for me. Well it was. God has tailor made special events for each of us to be ministering angles for his children in need. What is the requirement for us to be called into that service? Three things, be moved with compassion, go about doing good ,and be available.
It has been rumored, that Bill passed away a couple years after his surgery. All who knew Bill had lost all contact with him. If this is the case, then at least there were some who were moved with compassion in his behalf. At least there were a few that witnessed by their action that unconditional Christ like love is still the purest and deepest form of compassion in the heart of man.
Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature, for the Lord seeth not as man seeth: for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
May we look beneath what we see and view each person as a spiritual son or daughter of God.
Authors note: Ask God today who he would send you to tomorrow. Case in point. A few years ago in my nightly prayers I told the Lord that I was going to bake bread in the morning. I asked Him who needed a loaf. The name Edie Ferguson came into my mind, Edie and her husband Dave were clients of mine. The next morning I called Edie and asked her how she was doing. She told me that she was not doing well. I asked her what the matter was. She said “ Dave died last night”. Because I asked the Lord a question, He was able to use me in a tailor made moment. We give God the glory when He uses us to do His will. Because of a simple question, I was able to assist and comfort a friend in a very difficult time in her life. Ask and ye shall receive. Bill, if you are still alive, and by chance ever read this, thank you for allowing God’s charity to work both ways. Giving charity is only one aspect of this heavenly attribute. It takes humility and charity to receive that which is offered in love.
If I could go back to that cobblestone street in Scotland in the spring of 1974, when a little boy offered me a mint, I would have picked him up and kissed him and maybe even his suffering mother. This little boy had a birth defect, a discolored over sized nose. My shock at his appearance caused me to dismiss his pure simple kindly act of love.