Do you remember the feeling of having “the wind knocked out of you?” I know scientifically that’s not an accurate description, but you get the picture. That happened to me today as I began the long journey home from a recent overseas trip.
This is Anton.
As I was sitting in the terminal waiting to board my flight, Anton interrupted an intense conversation I was having with my friend. He was curious about my midwestern accent (or lack thereof). We chatted for a minute or two and I went back to my original conversation.
Thirty seconds later Anton interrupted us again. (If I’m being honest, I was a bit annoyed). But it quickly became clear this was a holy moment.
Anton is 31 years old. He’s a medical doctor. His parents wanted him to follow in his dad’s steps and join the military, but he endured six years of schooling, two years of internship and three years of specialization to become what he called an “anesthesiologist.” I thought I knew what that meant and congratulated Anton on his great accomplishment.
But his face turned somber as he said, “I chose the wrong specialty.” When I asked him to clarify, my jet-lagged brain slowly processed what he actually meant by the word anesthesiologist.
“It’s one thing when an old man comes to you,” he shared. “He may die today or tomorrow or in a few months. But when a sixteen-year-old girl comes to your office and wants you to help her die, it’s really difficult.”
Let that sink in for a minute.
Anton is a doctor who euthanizes people. Because of the political and cultural system he lives in, he is not allowed to say “no” to any request. So young and old, healthy and sick, people come to Anton when they want to end their own lives. I could feel the weight of the guilt that Anton was carrying as tears filled his eyes.
“I need to get a new job,” he whimpered.
Our flight was scheduled to board soon, so I told Anton we needed to go. But before we left, I asked if we could pray with him. I explained as quickly as I could that Jesus came to take away our guilt and shame and that He could help. We bowed our heads and prayed.
I confess, I peaked a little while we were praying and I could see Anton reaching for my hand. I grabbed hold, prayed and cried, and asked Jesus to take away Anton’s guilt and shame and to open a new door for him.
It was a shocking, sobering, gut-wrenching reminder of the lostness and darkness in our world.
Anton is a delightful young man. He’s not what you would picture if I said the words “death doctor.” But nonetheless, that’s what he is. He was desperate to offload his burden. He was desperate for someone to inject some Good News into his world full of death and darkness. He didn’t need someone to shine light ON his darkness. He was already very well aware of the darkness he was living in. What Anton needed was for someone to shine THE light INTO his darkness.
Jesus brings Good News to death doctors. Jesus came so “that captives will be released, that the blind would see, that the oppressed will be set free” (Luke 4:18).
This is why we do what we do at home and around the world. Because you’re sitting next to someone at Starbucks right now or in class or at work that desperately needs the light to shine into their darkness.
Pray With Us
Pray for Anton. Pray that Jesus will continue to lift his guilt and shame and show him a way out of this world that he presently trapped in. And pray for the millions of people all over the world whose lives are so full of darkness that they can’t even begin to comprehend the light.
“The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (John 1:4-5).