May 2, 2002

Letter to a Doctor

Dear S,

OK, let's continue corresponding. I am taking a risk that you could think I'm crazy or something because I'm going to share a bit more deeply about my motivations and my faith in God, which for some people, is very hard to understand. I hope you can understand me. I hope this is not too "preachy" for you.

To be perfectly logical, faith without actions that prove it, is dead faith. (I didn't make that one up, its actually a quote from the Bible).

To answer your recent questions:

You say "there are millions of people who believe in God and life after death and millions of people who feel happy when they help someone else- yet you and your fellow Jesus Christians are the only group in the universe that I know of (let me know of any others) willing to donate a kidney to a stranger."

There always has to be someone who does things first. I don't think we will always be the only group in the universe to do this. I'm sure there will be others, if there aren't already.

The concept of laying your life down in love instead of fighting to protect your life, is one of the radical differences between the Jewish religion (the Old Testament in the Bible) and true Christianity (the New Testament).

It's true that I think there are millions of people who believe in the existence of God. However, what I think is a lot rarer than you think is real faith in God that leads to radical changes in your behaviour, some changes which may risk the life of the person with the faith. You see, if you REALLY believe in God and life after death, then you will not be afraid of dying in order to follow and obey the God who you put your faith in, who you believe is going to lead you to life after death. That, basically, is what motivates the suicide bombers, from what I can understand. I think they have got it mixed up in thinking that God wants them to kill other people, but I think they are willing to die for their cause themselves because they have some sort of faith in life after death. I respect the fact that they have that much faith, even though I strongly disagree in what they are doing (ie killing innocent people). Perhaps they are "sincerely wrong".

Anyway, of these millions of people you think have faith in God and faith in life after death that supposedly exist in the world today, how many of them do you think would be willing to die for their faith? When it comes down to it, probably VERY FEW. So, do they really have faith in God and life after death? I don't think so. They may have some faith in something, but it isn't a combination of faith in God and faith in life after death, otherwise, death in obedience to God wouldn't be something that suddenly makes them change their minds about obeying God in life threatening circumstances.

Having said all that, I don't think donating a kidney is really seriously life threatening unlike a lot of other courageous and noble things thousands of people in history have done in the past that really did cost people their lives. I understand I am facing the small risk of losing my life through this operation, but it is only a small risk. And I will try to explain why I (and others from my group) are willing to face that risk to help someone in this way.

The group I belong to is pretty extreme about faith in God. We don't compare with the suicide bombers or other terrorists, in case you think that, because we don't believe that using violence will achieve anything. Real power comes from love. I know that sounds pretty airy fairy, but real love is NOT airy fairy.

We follow Jesus. Jesus said very direct stuff about what it really means to obey and follow him.

The obvious comment from Jesus that relates is:

"Love God with all your strength...and love your neighbour as you would love yourself." Matthew 19:19 This command is supposed to encompass all of the teachings from God and Jesus.

Another one from John the Baptist, a Jewish prophet is: "Let him who has two give to him who has none." Luke 3:11 Of course he wasn't referring to kidneys, but he was referring to some pretty basic human needs, ie, food and clothes.

Jesus also said, "Heal the sick." (Luke 10:9)

I don't have miraculous powers like Jesus did, and I am not qualified as a doctor or medical worker, but I can help heal someone with kidney disease (if all goes well) with the help of a lot of other medical workers, just by donating my spare kidney.

In the latter part of the Bible a Christian writer says "I beseech you brethren, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable unto God, which is your REASONABLE service..." Romans 12:1

Jesus also says: "If you love them only that love you, what reward have you?" Matthew. 5:46 "Greater love has no man than that he lay down his life for a friend" John 15:13

Anyway, this is just to mention a few of the teachings of Jesus and others in the Bible, that should help you understand why I am doing what I am doing, because of my faith in God and my sincere desire to try to do what I think he wants me to do. Is that crazy? Perhaps some people (who don't believe in God) would think it is. But not if you believe in a real God who can give immortality to his followers.

In answer to your questions below:

> 1.Did you decide to donate a kidney before or after you joined the > JesusChristians?

Well, considering I've been working with the Jesus Christians for 15 years, I decided to donate my kidney after joining them, even though I started considering it about 2 years ago.

> 2 Were you exposed to any form of group pressure (positive or negative) to > donate?

No. On the contrary, other medically trained people in my community have made the risks and the potential dangers very clear to anyone considering donating (see articles on our website). There has been no pressure, because we are all very aware that this is a decision that cannot and should not be made lightly, and if anyone donates under any sort of pressure from others in the community, that would be wrong.

> 3 Has anyone with whom you were especially close experienced a life > threatening illness?

Not really. A girl I went to school with had leukemia, but she was in remission the whole time I knew her. My father had a disease which slowly killed him, but it was something I probably found easier to accept than other people because he had it first when I was very young, and I grew up with it over 10 years.

> 4.Did you have a happy childhood with a healthy supportive family?

Yes, I must say I had a very happy childhood with a great family, and I realise I am more fortunate than probably 99% of the world's population in that respect.

By the way, you didn't answer this question from MY last email...

"I am curious to know what reasons you have for NOT fully supporting (live organ donation), just like you are curious as to why I am doing it. Could you enlighten me?"

Sincerely, Susan


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