It occurs to me that both can be true, and both scenarios were true for our still young mission in its 14th year. We had some major realizations as a Board of Directors, that we were straining our staff and leadership under mounting pressure to meet both stateside and Peru-side medical needs. In most cases, these were not needs and initiatives that we defined or pursued, but rather “they” pursued the Scalpel Mission. Overnight, we realized we had a staffing structure built nicely for the first decade but quite inadequate for our impending future. Our goal was never to attain a great scale or become major, per se, but rather to be prayerfully open to God’s leading and follow it! Such an approach worked well for incremental growth until now. I outlined the wonderful increments of the first decade in the last edition of Scalpel’s Edge, which provides a feel for hard-fought slopes we have scaled with modest means.
Now, however, I am alluding to a strong pull from our Peruvian partners to expand our mission for more medical purposes—amplifying our campus facilities and capabilities. I am alluding to the emergence of greater Peruvian involvement in Scalpel At The Cross, creating a bi-cultural rather than uniquely American organization. I am implying a stronger magnet for more trips and teams to render surgical care. We now have growing energy and a template for increasing the donated medical equipment to jungle hospitals. More people know about Scalpel At The Cross and desire its extraordinary orthopaedic treatment and compassion-filled care, even in other parts of the country. Consider also, that when we began in 2004, neither Google, Facebook nor iPhones had emerged; whereas in 2019, a sophisticated multi-media platform seems nearly essential for function if not survival. The implications of all these realities yield a sink-or-swim prospect for the next decade of ministry. Imagine,faced with all these realities, imagine the funds and resources necessary to fulfill our mission over the next 5-10 years. Either we needed to take some bold survival strokes and pray that God would bless these, or we simply needed greater faith to embolden our decisions.
Notably, in 2018, we hired Esteban Cardona to lead our mission communications. We hired Danielle Ellerbe to implement a new philanthropy strategy and rework our patient outcomes program. In addition to these hires, we forged a strategic relationship with Stewardship Planning Partners whose own mission is to empower charitable organizations through enhanced fundraising and stewardship. We purchased an optimally located parcel of land to expand our medical work in Peru. And we mounted a fundraising campaign in the final two months of the year to raise a quarter million dollars to support these steps-God blessed us. I need to pause to take a breath here!
After careening down the black diamond slopes of 2018 as a modest skier at best, I am at the bottom of a thrilling run looking back up the glorious mountainside. It is beautiful yet in a treacherous way. The moguls look smaller and the trails less daunting now, but the peaks are still covered in clouds. Does this “we-did-it!” sensation embolden our faith? Is it one more experience conquered by God’s grace? Or did I have faith based on my experience and conditioning, that I would hammer that run, even if it hammered me?
In the Bible, Jesus was speaking to His disciples who claimed to be unable to heal a boy with chronic seizures, brought to them by a desperate father who had known they were followers of Christ. Jesus explained to them, “Because of your little faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Jesus proceeded instantly, to cure the child of his infirmity. I suppose in this instance, Jesus was both rebuking and encouraging his disciples in Mathew 17: 20. A good mentor will call you out, educate and demonstrate; how much more will Christ who loves you ultimately, do all three and embolden your faith along the journey.
Given that a mustard seed is but a millimeter in diameter, Jesus was simply conveying that faith has incalculable power, if only we would exercise it! I reflect back to September when our godly, faith-filled new team members, Dani, Peggy, and Esteban, staked a bold end-of-year fundraising goal; and they explained to the Board of Directors, who had just voted on the new land purchase, “We have faith that God is gonna do this, but we need your help!” They went to work, hard, and employed tiered strategies. By golly they did it, but they were quick to give the praise to God in whom they had complete faith. I do believe it was their mustard seed or more that manifested in a fiscal quarter of giving, exceeding that of all other years. But I did observe that other team members who gave a thumbs up for this campaign, were shocked beyond their wildest imagination… and their faith was emboldened! Indeed we all at Scalpel At The Cross experienced emboldened faith, albeit with different starting points, and that is the dynamic growing body of Christ working this “faith thing” out together. It’s real, and it’s vivid.
“When I make bold decisions in which I anticipate great risk, and then I experience success, my faith emboldens.” It is also great to work with people who exercise faith through bold actions which beget even greater faith. The next time, my decisions become more fearless. Perhaps I am less concerned with the outcome, or I know the outcome is God-purposed, or I am more focused on following He who is sovereign over the outcome. Ultimately, the consequence is freedom, freedom which comes through faith to make bold decisions.
Team Member Questionnaire
If you are interested in joining a future mission team, please fill out our Team Member Questionnaire and email to the attention of Esteban Cardona.