She Couldn’t Say NoBy Paul deParrieThe Covenant News ~ January 26, 2006
Many decades ago a young, African-American Licensed Practical Nurse followed Jesus. She followed Him to a small, ramshackle building in the poverty flats and disputed gang territory of North Portland where she tended to the sick – all the sick who came to her. She gave it the bland, unassuming name of North Portland Nurse Practitioner Community Health Clinic and opened the doors. Her specialty was the children – “my babies” she called them.
Mariah Taylor was boundless in energy. She laid hands on the sick – both in prayer and in healing arts. She almost always had groceries stacked in the corner for the hungry. Clean, used clothing was everywhere awaiting the homes where they were needed. People came from everywhere. She couldn’t say no. A few were able to add to the meager coffers of the Clinic, most had nothing but their thanks to offer. It mattered not at all to Mariah. She was following Jesus.
My experience with Mariah began more than 20 years ago when my wife and I were raising six children, were almost broke, and had no health care after I lost my job to a massive heart attack. In those times Mariah was the lifeline. My daughter, Michelle, now 24, was saved from deadly meningecoccal disease as Mariah, who had become one of the best diagnosticians in the state, sent her to the hospital and called ahead a dire warning to any emergency room staff who did not take immediate care of her.
Lat time I was there, Mariah was still showing off Michelle’s animal drawings as proudly as if Michelle were her own child. I doubt you could convince Mariah that Michelle wasn’t.
Two of my daughters, in their early teens, were invited to volunteer in the office where they filed papers, stocked shelves, and straightened exam rooms between visits. While there, they can attest to everything from life-saving treatment of migrant workers from 50 miles away to prayer and hugs for local mothers worried about sons and gangs.
I recall taking a child in after a 6:30 p.m. call to the office (she was still there). Mariah took care of the child before leaving to do a follow-up house call (yes, house calls) on one of “her babies” 50 miles away in Salem, Oregon.
I was surprised over a decade ago to get a call from Mariah telling me that the Board of Directors (one of the many downsides of trying to incorporate while following Jesus) was attempting to “focus the mission” of the Clinic. They wanted Mariah to stop handing out food and clothing and to limit her care to those in North and Northeast Portland. Mariah knew that the poor were not limited to such locations, nor were their immediate needs limited to antibiotics, so she told them she would continue to care for all who came in whatever ways she was able.
She wanted my help to stop the hijacking of the ministry – and she got it. Eventually she prevailed and she went on following Jesus.
However, the bean-counter mind never sleeps. Again Mariah faces a new Board of Directors that wants to “put the clinic on a business footing” – that is, suck the life of the Spirit out of it. At the lead of this little cabal is a weasely son of Belial attorney (wouldn’t you know) named Kelly Clark, a.k.a., The Snake.
Clark was on the Sanhedrin, er, Board of Directors for the Clinic. After the Board gave Mariah her Christmas present of an enforced leave of absence, he graciously stepped down from his Board position – in order to take the role of legal counsel for the Board in order to drag Mariah into court for her being “insubordinate” (the Board’s word).
Mariah is still insubordinate. She boldly told the Board and the court that she would never turn away any child. She would never stop helping in every way.
I am reminded of the book of Acts where the Sanhedrin had arrested Peter and John for following Jesus in preaching at the Temple. They, too, were insubordinate. They wouldn’t stop following where Jesus had led them.
The Bible tells the story in Acts 4: 13:
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John . . . they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
Somehow I doubt the Board or the court will be so perceptive, but one thing is sure, you can tell Mariah has “been with Jesus.”