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TEXT: HEBREWS 11:36& 37

INTRO: All of these people had a heart that made a difference in the lives of others.

Doug and Margaret Nichols have faced their share of obstacles. After surgery for colon cancer in April 1993, Doug sat across from his doctor and listened in disbelief. "I’m sorry, Doug," said the doctor nervously, "but you do have a 30 percent chance of recovery."

"You mean I have a 70 percent chance of dying?" Asked Doug, with a grin.

"I wouldn’t put it that way," said a surprised doctor. "But my best estimate is that you have about three months to live."

"Well, let me tell you something, Doc," said Nichols. "Whatever happens, I have a 100 percent chance of going to heaven."

One year later radiation and chemo treatments had left Doug’s body wracked with pain. Though he kept his humor well-oiled, both Doug and Margaret knew the end might be near. But their world was not the only one collapsing. Nightly news reports from Rwanda indicated that civil war had spiraled out of control and more than a million people had been slaughtered, many by their own neighbors and trusted friends. The carnage was beyond belief. Terrified Rwandans by the thousands had fled across the border into Zaire and crowded into filthy, ill-equipped refugee camps, where diseases such as cholera found a ready home. People were dying everywhere-50,000 in three days alone in the little town of Goma. As Margaret and Doug read the terrible accounts and saw the images on TV, their hearts were broken. But what could one couple do?

"I knew I was going to die," Doug told me, "but I wanted to do something before leaving this earth. I just wanted to hold some of those children in my arms and try to offer hope."

Soon Doug found himself traveling with a team of doctors and nurses through the heart of Rwanda, with no idea of the adventure that lay ahead.

A Rwandan Christian leader whom Doug had worked with before had hired 300 refugees as stretcher bearers to bury the daily masses of dead and transport the sick so doctors could do their best. One day the leader approached Doug with an expression of deep concern. "Mr. Nichols," he said, "we have a problem."

"What is it?" Doug asked.

"I was given only so much money to hire these people, and now they want to go on strike."

"What? In the middle of all this death arid destruction these men want to go on strike?"

"They want more money."

"But we have no more money," Doug informed him "We’ve spent everything. If they don’t work, thousands will die."

His friend shrugged his shoulders. "They’re not going to work. They want more money."

"Well, can I talk to them?"

"It won’t do any good. They’re angry. Who knows what they’ll do?"

Finally Doug’s friend agreed. Walking over to an old burned-out school building, Doug climbed the steps wondering what on earth he could say. Three hundred angry men surrounded the Rwandan who would act as interpreter. "Mr. Nichols wants to say something," he called above the clamor as Doug desperately searched for words that would get through to them.

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