John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

The Line Between

This morning I awoke, received a few text messages, checked my email and had a breakfast of french toast at the Swissotel in Quito, Ecuador. To say that the world is flat is an understatement that is growing more understated with each passing day. Quito, like many large cities in developing nations, is a city of contradictions. Rich and poor sit next to each other where ever you look. This hotel, for example, is one of the nicer hotels I've stayed in anywhere -- indoor/outdoor pool -- big, spacious rooms -- fitness center -- fantastic breakfast buffet. But from my window I can see people living in cramped quarters -- tall apartment buildings with dirty rooftops -- mismatched clothing hung out to dry on power lines -- graffiti everywhere.

The line between the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy is thin but clear.

But the line between the people I can see from my window and the people I spent the afternoon with is carved in marble, palpable and it is this line that has broken my heart today.

I met with three area pastors and their wives for lunch. They each work with Compassion International at varying levels. The visit for us this afternoon was to what is referred to as a CSP -- a Child Survival Program. The folks at Iglesia Christian de Victoria care for mothers from pregnancy until their child is four years old, offering pre-natal vitamins, assistance with labor and delivery, a curriculum for mothers to help early childhood development, groceries and workshops where these young women learn anything from how to sew to how to cook.

It's a full-service project.

I met Fanny today. Actually, I went to visit her house. And calling it a house is a stretch. It was little more than three tiny rooms the size of most walk-in closets. Fanny is 27, and she only has one leg. Fanny has a 10-month old baby boy. Fanny found out she was pregnant after she'd been raped by a man she doesn't know. A few months ago, Fanny thought about killing herself and her child. The baby was malnourished and had developed pneumonia.

You should know that Ecuador is a nation of approximately 13 million people, but they only have two children's hospitals -- each accommodating only about 110 children at a time.

Fanny, with no husband, no job, no way to help her sick baby figured murder-suicide might be her best option.

That's when Compassion International got involved, connecting her with the medical attention her baby needed and getting her the counseling she needed.

Fanny has a job now -- she makes small pieces of fabric local mechanics use to polish cars. She can make about 25 of these each week, and she sells them for eight cents apiece.

More than that, though, Fanny has hope. Fanny has friends who come visit her each week and help her by teaching her how to be a strong, courageous woman. Fanny has connected with God, and she says he gives her hope that life will not always be so difficult.

It costs $20 a month to help Fanny and her baby.

Twenty dollars a month might not seem like much, but it can be the line between life and death.