Lost and Found
Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28; Psalm 14; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-10
This week I had dinner with a man who is so highly sought after for his thousands of good deeds that he lives in the United States in asylum because both sides in a conflict have issued death sentences for him.
He was a successful plastic surgeon with a booming medical practice in Chechnya. All he wanted was a nice family, a nice home and a good car to drive. But ten years of Russian occupation of Chechnya and the total destruction of Groznyy, a city that once was home to over 100,000 people, made him a different man.
I will never forget the look in his eyes when he said through a translator, "Once you have seen your family and friends involved in the meat grinder of war it becomes a sickness for you. You can never turn away. You cannot leave. You become part of it."
So he did what any physician around the world who had taken the Hippocratic Oath would do – he operated on people. Initially he continued his work of maxillo-faciallary reconstruction, the reconstruction of people's faces. The elderly, the infants, young children, teenagers, parents, all civilians streamed to his practice after every battle. Burns of all kinds, shrapnel wounds, concussive trauma, bullet holes and unrecognizable human faces filled his waiting area. These were the human tragedies that never make the government statistics. In wartime, governments only count the casualties of soldiers. The civilians just get lost.
As one of a very few physicians willing to work in war-torn Chechnya, his practice expanded to general surgery. He saved the lives of thousands of people literally giving some people new faces, new lower jaws, new mouths, new noses, still others would recover the use of limbs or vital organs.
What did he do to earn a death sentence from both his fellow citizens and the Russians? His "sin" was to operate on anyone who came through his doors. He saved t ...
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