~by Larry Bucher~

You never know what will happen next at a mission hospital. The attending surgeon and his wife asked me to go with them to the emergency area to see an infant who might need surgery. I had no idea how much this encounter would impact my life. 

As a child, I wanted to be a doctor. That changed one January afternoon when I was 14. My cousin, also 14, was like a brother to me. It was a sunny day, so we decided to drive the tractor through the countryside and enjoy the fresh air.

When we came back into town, I stopped at his house to let him off, but he wanted to ride several blocks to the grocery store where his father was picking up supplies. The road was clear, so we turned the corner and headed toward the store. As we did, we heard a truck start up about a block away. As its motor revved louder and louder, we eased the tractor to the side of the road. My cousin screamed just before impact and all went dark.

As I regained consciousness, rescuers placed me in the back seat of a car and laid my cousin across my lap. He gurgled out his last breath on the way to the hospital. That’s when I lost interest in being a doctor.

The next year an Adventist electrician moved to town and hired me to help install fire alarms in nursing homes. He tried to study the Bible with me. I had always gone to Sunday school with my mother and wasn’t interested in his studies—until he brought up the state of the dead. That caught my attention! My cousin wasn’t in heaven observing the pain of those grieving for him. I was baptized at the beginning of my senior year of high school.

After graduation I followed in my father’s footsteps as a mechanic and machinist. I loved my work, but the thought of the suffering in the world was always with me.

One day an advertisement caught my eye in our church union magazine. It was about a nursing program. By then, my wife and I had two children. Medical school was out of the question, but maybe I could become a nurse. I was accepted and signed up for classes on my 29th birthday. After graduation, I spent the summer working in ICU and then entered anesthesia school. In just six years I went from mechanic to a mission hospital emergency room in Africa!

My Bush Baby

The infant who came from the bush country to our hospital was near death. Yet at the sound of my voice, this dying child reached up, grabbed my finger and held on with strength I could not imagine. That baby died while tightly clutching a piece of my heart.

In the many years that have passed, I have often shed tears for her. One morning while still lying in bed I was thinking of that baby again. As usual, tears began to flow. Then I remembered something in The Great Controversy describing the resurrection: “Little children are borne by holy angels to their mothers’ arms” (p. 645). And then in Selected Messages: “Angels receive the motherless infants and conduct them to the tree of life” (vol. 2, p. 260).

I hope that baby’s mother is there in heaven to receive her at the hands of holy angels. But that particular morning I found myself praying: “If her mother isn’t there, bring the child to me. She has a piece of my heart clasped in her hand.”

Larry Bucher is a member of Piedmont Park Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.