by Kriselle Dawson

What value do you place on a human life? Can you even name a price? Since Jesus died to save each one, then aren’t all of infinite worth?

It was a cool, wet evening in Lae, Papua New Guinea. I was relaxing at home with my husband when my cell phone began to ring. Answering the phone, I listened carefully as my guard told me in broken English that his little girl (my namesake baby, Kriselle) was very sick and had fainted. Given the wet weather and the risks of driving at night around Lae, I asked him hesitantly if he wanted us to drive as close as we could to where he lived and take the little girl to the hospital, or whether he would prefer to watch her through the night and take her to the hospital in the morning if necessary. He assured me that he thought it would be okay to wait until morning, and we hung up.

The next morning as I was washing the breakfast dishes, my neighbor came rushing into my kitchen. He informed me that our guard and his wife were at my house, and that baby Kriselle had died in the night. My heart sank and a million thoughts raced through my mind. I should have done more. I should have insisted we take her to the hospital last night. Why on earth did I let a bit of rain and fear deter me?

Fortunately, there was a happy ending to this story. I sorrowfully accompanied my neighbor outside to greet my guard and his wife. Strangely enough, the child in his arms looked just about the right age to be baby Kriselle. Yes, she was sick and needed medical attention, but she most certainly was not dead yet.

It seemed there was a misunderstanding. In Tok Pisin (the common trade language in Papua New Guinea, which has more than 850 languages) the word “dai” (pronounced “die”), refers to unconsciousness, but the phrase “dai pinis,” refers to death. My neighbor had simply failed to differentiate between the temporary and permanent forms of “dai.”

But this incident did cause me to think seriously about the value I place on a human life, and how I determine and express that value. It also made me realize the vast difference between my system and God’s system of determining human worth. God sent his Son Jesus in the form of a human baby to rescue the volatile and ungrateful bunch that we are. The delivery of Jesus in a stable was risky—just think of the potential for infection. And then while still tiny, he was at risk of being slaughtered by a maniacal king. And in the prime of his life, he was tortured and murdered by the very same people he came to save. Jesus held nothing back in his mission to save lost humanity.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:4–8 ESV).

How can we apply Jesus’ approach and value system to our own situations? What kind of risks (personal, financial, or other) are we prepared to take in order to contribute to God’s work?

I challenge you to hold nothing back. Put it all on the line. Every soul is of infinite worth and the rewards are literally out of this world!

Kriselle Dawson is a volunteer writer for Jesus' Economy. Kriselle lives in Lae, Papua New Guinea, where she is a full-time mom and homeschool teacher; she also serves with Papua New Guinea Union Mission and Lae City Mission.