He entered the church in white polo and black slacks. In his one arm, he held an old lady in her late 70s, his grandmother. They had just been converted,baptized and confirmed. But what made him attract our attention was his hair.It was so thick and long, called ‘dreadlocks‘ and fashioned after the hair of the late famous reggae singer, Bob Marley. However, it was not a welcoming sight on a Sabbath.
Few weeks after, brother John-john Revereal had decided to have his hair shaved, a new look symbolic of his new lifestyle.His testimony of how he decided to embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ and follow the path of our Master always stirs an inspiration among us in the audience. He never fails to bring us to tears.
From heydays of a hedonistic and life-threatening lifestyle brother John-john said he no w leads a life of daily commitment to serve the Lord.He is one of the most active youth members in our chapel at Bacolod First Ward-Galo.
In one Church activity, I had suddenly noticed that both of his earlobes were odd-looking. Each had a hole that a 10-peso coin can fit in. I had learned later that those earlobes both had good and bad news to offer.
The good news was: these used to hold huge stainless earrings they call ‘tunnels” and imbedded on each lobe.It is a a fad among tribal art and reggae enthusiasts,including him. The bad news was: after he decided to remove these ‘tunnels‘, his earlobes became so holed and warped that it needed reconstructive surgery to make them look normal again.
While they are not, brother John-john may not be allowed to serve as a missionary due to questions of standards. And he testified more than once about his dream to serve in a mission. He cannot afford the operation since his family is among those living below the poverty line.
It is a blessing,he said that he recently found a decent job as an In-house Artist for a party caterer. But his healthcare card cannot be used yet for such medical purpose.
One Sunday, I had strong promptings to approach him and asked him if he would allow me to help look for a Good Samaritan doctor to operate on his earlobes. He beamed with an excited smile and said ‘ Yes,sister Malu!’ .Actually ,I was surprised I said that when I had no doctor yet in mind.
We spent the next few days looking for the right person to endorse us to the right doctor.Days became two more weeks,in vain.Last Friday , April 17 was our last hopeful day,with one doctor’s name on my list.All those we had previously pursued declined us, either they were too busy or they were not the right ones. End of story.
The last doctor on my list that day told me to bring the patient to his clinic ‘for assessment’. After few minutes of ocular inspection across his table,he declared he was not doing any charity work.
Instead, the best he could offer brother John-john was to charge him Php 8,000 for both earlobes and he called it his ‘discounted rate’.Wait! There’s more: ‘Professional fee not included yet.’ Sum it all up: Php 15,000.Take it or leave it.
We left the clinic in silence, with heavy feelings. I was starting to wonder what ever happened to the Hippocratic Oath these doctors solemnly swore of? What did it partially say?
‘May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.‘
As we walked out of the building,I noticed hope was fading from the face of brother John-john.He was so sad and hardly spoke.We agreed to meet at 3pm that afternoon once I find another doctor.
During that time, going back and forth various clinics here and there took its toll on me. I was suffering from heatstroke and felt like fainting anytime.That day,it was at its worst.
While resting at home , I felt like not going back to the appointed venue, but I gave my word to brother John-john. So,I prayed so hard and slept for a while.
After about half an hour, I felt like being jolted from sleep.Strong promptings again struck and led me to contact one more doctor in mind,a very close family friend who is also our family Dentist, Dr. Gil Joseph Octaviano III.He was more than glad to endorse brother John-john to his best friend, a General Surgeon whose clinic is just at the building next to his clinic.
We finally found the right Samaritans! How happy we were that the surgeon agreed to do the operation for free.He scheduled the free operation on April 23, without knowing it was just the day before my birthday! What a blessed gift from our Heavenly Father!
Yesterday, the operation started at 11am and after an hour or so, it was successful. My eldest daughter Chickie and I were there and witnessed everything. We were all as equally ecstatic as brother John-john himself!
The best I can offer back the Good Samaritan surgeon, whose name is Dr. Joel Tan and his wife Dr. Marian Tan,was a firm handshake, each having all the gratitude there was.
It was a miracle that unfolded in the field of patience!
No wonder patience is always perceived as a golden virtue.