Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: South America (02/05/09)
TITLE: Do No Harm
By Mary McLeary
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“Do no harm. Do good. Never stop loving God.” These three simple rules were what he lived by. It made for a simple life in the jungles of Peru. Thomas Payne had been serving the local people here for several years as a missionary and they had finally realized that they could trust him. He asked them for nothing. He worked along side them as they eked out meager living raising crops of mostly corn and potatoes and tending small herds of llama and alpaca. He never harmed a thing. He always tried to help them make a better life and he told them about the God he loved.
Their legends told of gods who demanded sacrifices. Although humans were no longer sacrificed, the locals found it hard to believe in a loving God who would die for them. The British missionary had made his profession of faith at an early age. Loving parents and teachers had strengthened his belief through stories in the Bible and stories of their own journeys in faith. He had seen God work in their lives and his. Thomas felt a deep calling to share the faith, and so daily he prayed, read his Bible and helped the people around him. He felt the eyes of these quiet people always watching and after several years, many began to believe in the Jesus they could see in this faithful man.
The people he served lived in a remote area surrounded by mountains and jungle. He had become familiar with the local legends of an ancient tribe that was ruled by a son of the Sun God. In that society everyone worked for the welfare of all. There was no money. If you did your work you were paid by the king with clothes, food and shelter. The society flourished for over one hundred years, but when foreigners landed in search of treasure, they brought ashore a terrible sickness that destroyed the civilization. Now there were no remaining signs of wealth.
One day after finishing his work Thomas decided to follow the children in to the jungle where they often played. They welcomed him enthusiastically. After a few founds of hide-and-seek, one of the older boys motioned for the man to come with him. A short while later, it was apparent that they were climbing a fairly steep ridge covered by jungle vegetation. They climbed for nearly an hour. The man was drenched in sweat, but too curious to stop and go back. Just when he thought he could go no further, the children began to smile and gesture toward a huge bolder. Coming closer the missionary realized the bolder stood in the midst of many others and all were etched with ancient drawings. The children were delighted to be able to show him their surprise and as he studied the pictures of the ancients, he knew they must be the same people told of in the legends he had been hearing – the people of Machu Picchu. He was not surprised that the pictures showed houses, fields and animals. He was surprised to see likenesses of roads, bridges and other symbols that indicated a sophistication he would not have imagined. He was awestruck and humbled by the gift of trust he had been given. Nothing in the world would have persuaded him to divulge this fantastic secret. Bowing his head he thanked God for allowing him this privilege.
Hiram Bingham, a renowned scholar of ancient civilizations, surveyed the small village before him. His purpose was clear and nothing would deter him. Knowledge was his god and gaining recognition for himself in the quest of that god was his ultimate goal. Nothing else mattered. He had spent years researching legends of the people native to this area. His research convinced him that this was the site of the Lost City of the Incas. This discovery would indeed make him famous and rich. He was led to the hidden boulders by an eleven year old boy named Pablito who was eager to share his secret with another white man, but this time the secret would not be kept. Bingham excavated the site, took many of the treasures he found there and secured his place in academic history.
The artifacts he took were not returned until 2007. The site is now considered one of the major wonders of the world and draws so many tourists each year that the site verges on extinction. Do no harm?
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