One Life–What Is It Worth


I have been thinking again. And when you read this one you are going to write to me and tell me “Stop thinking and get back to work, buddy.”

Here’s the question. Did we do the right thing? Should we have taken the advice of the first doctor in Nairobi and simply gone back to the village in Sudan and let Cammie die? He called this the “palliative” approach and this was what he urged us to do—let nature take its course.

In an ideal outcome, here is what might have happened. We would learn the Didinga language. We would have translated the Scriptures. A viable church would form (there was a small Catholic church there, but if you scratched, it would bleed animism). People would be saved. The Kingdom would be populated. And all of this in about twenty years—this could conceivably have been accomplished by 1999. Conceivably, mind you. Not to say that this is what would have happened.

So, what actually happened?

After we left, a Wycliffe couple, Bruce and Beth Samuelson, arrived to take our place. Three months later they had to leave (a long, sad story). Then another couple. They stuck with it for years, but ultimately it was determined that wasn’t working out very well. About that time a brilliant young Didinga named Pio had graduated from a Christian university in Kenya and he was asked to take the role of leader for a mother-tongue-translation team. He was fully qualified and able. But….sad to say, in a few short years things fell apart. First they fell apart in his life and then they fell apart among the team members. And right now things are just about where we started 25 years ago—nowhere. No completed Scriptures. No vibrant church. No great numbers of souls added to the Kingdom.

So, net net, we have one baby girl with a rare form of cancer who has become a wonderful woman and who is alive today–but who has lived on the cusp of the beyond all her life. The amount of money to keep her alive (thank God for insurance) could have paid the cost of several translations and swelled the ranks of the Kingdom.

Is it worth it? Did we do the right thing? One human being who is alive today, but possibly at the expense of an entire tribe of 25,000 having the Scriptures by now?

Fortunately, thank God, the question is wrong. It is a “both-and” deal. The Didinga are important to God. And Cammie is important to God—it is not one or the other. Yes, I think we did the right thing (ask Cammie). The financial cost involved to attempt to overcome her infirmity so far is huge…but in God’s economy, inconsequential. It boils down to two questions that I feel the Lord asks each of us: “Do you Love me?” And, “Will you do what I ask you to do? Will you obey me?”

We do. We did.

OK. OK. Excuse me while I get back to work.


(Not sure when I wrote this, but at this time, Spring 2015, the translation is completed and checking is nearly completed and the project, 34 years since we left, is finally nearing completion. Meanwhile the tribe has grown in number to about 100,000. The village where we started now has two cell towers, 200 stores—just 3 when we were there—several schools, several churches, a hospital, and our old airstrip, and everyone walks around with clothes on. What a change.)