I thought about that this past week as I read the following Fox News article by Melissa Rudy titled: “Virginia High School Student Creates Soap to Fight Skin Cancer, Is Awarded $25K: ‘Remarkable Effort’ - Heman Bekele, 14, Said The Project Started Out As A ‘Fun Science Experiment’”
Here is my own brief summary of the highlights of that article…
It seems that a young man named Heman Bekele, who attends W. T. Woodson High School in the Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools system, was recently crowned “America’s Top Young Scientist” and awarded $25,000 after winning this year’s 3M Young Scientist Challenge.
The high school freshman started out looking for a fun science experiment; but ended up making soap with the aim of treating skin cancer. The teen’s idea stemmed from his memories of people working long hours outside under the glaring sun in Ethiopia, his native country.
“Skin cancer is mostly found on people who live within developing countries,” Bekele said in a press release… “But the average price for an operation is $40,000 … I was devastated by the idea of people having to choose between treatment and putting food on the table for their families … There are so many preventable deaths.”
An aspiring scientist, Bekele began researching skin cancer - particularly dendritic cells, which help the immune system attack cancer cells. He used various ingredients - including salicylic acid, glycolic acid and tretinoin - to create a skin-cancer-treating soap that helps stimulate dendritic cells.
The process taught young Bekele the value of persistence, as one major challenge was finding the right combination of ingredients to ensure the soap held together without flaking into pieces. After many tries, he was finally able to make that happen, using 3M Cavilon (a moisturizer and barrier cream), coconut oil and organic shea butter,
Eric D. Whitman, M.D., who serves as medical director of Atlantic Health System Cancer Care in New Jersey, said Bekele’s invention is an “interesting way of creating a topical immune activating agent that could help treat or prevent some skin cancers.”
According to Whitman, “He saw a need and used science to solve it … While [this is] a remarkable effort from such a bright and motivated young man, further clinical testing is required to find out if (and how) the soap ‘reactivates’ dendritic cells, or even treats or prevents skin cancer … I hope this young scientist continues his work and is given a chance to collaborate with clinical centers to test his product and see if it fulfills its potential promise.”
Bekele himself plans to use his cash prize, first, toward securing a patent for his soap, and then for saving for college. In the future, he hopes to launch a nonprofit organization to distribute his soap in low-income communities.
The teen’s parents are understandably proud of him. “We are excited to see Heman’s dedication and resilience paying off … It is also a confirmation for kids like him that it is possible … We are extremely proud of his accomplishment and looking forward to his next steps to making a difference in the world.”
As I read the article, I could not help but relate. After all, skin cancer is a terrible thing. Most everyone knows someone who has suffered from its ravages; and I for one, wish its presence upon no one. What is more, as someone who life-guarded for several summers while in college, I find that I now make regular visits to the dermatologist to make sure that whatever blemishes I find on my skin are dealt with early and efficiently!
But I want to draw a further parallel as well. As terrible as skin cancer can be, it pales in comparison to another, far more deadly condition that is faced universally by every single man and woman. This condition is not so much a physical one as a spiritual one. The Bible calls this condition sinfulness; and asserts that its consequence is death - not just physical death, but spiritual death.
In the New Testament Book of Romans, we read (in chapter 3, verses 10-12):
“There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
To which the Apostle Paul adds (in chapter 3, verse 23): “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Sadly, he further reveals (in chapter 6, verse 23a) that “the wages (or consequences) of sin is death…”
Such is the plight of humanity. We are cursed with a condition known as sinfulness; and the consequences of that is spiritual death!
And yet, there is good news!
In Romans (chapter 6, verse 23 b), Paul states: “… but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
He tells us why this is in chapter 5, verse 8. Even though we are all sinners who deserve death, “… God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
And there you have it, Christ’s atoning work on the cross paid the price for our sins and set us free from the curse of death. He Who knew no sin literally became sin for us! In so doing, He died that we might live! And He now lives again that we might know His power to overcome death, sin, and Hell!
Later on in the New Testament, the Apostle John (in his First New Testament Letter, chapter 1, verses 5-10) tells us:
“And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar, and His word is not in us.”
Did you catch it?
According to verse 9, it is the blood of God’s One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, which cleanses us from all sin.
And so, my friend, I ask you this today. In the words of E. A. Hoffman’s famous hymn:
“Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless?
Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?”
If not, you can be. And you should be. For apart from bathing in the soul-cleansing blood of God’s One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, there is no hope of your ever being cleansed of the stain, the stench, and the strength of sin!
As John puts it, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Long ago, I learned the value of washing up and having clean hands ahead of sitting down at my grandmother’s table. After all, she had expectations of me. And she wanted the very best for me.
More importantly, I eventually learned the importance of being washed in the blood and having a clean heart in my Master’s presence. After all, He, more than anyone else, has expectations of me. And above anyone else, He wants the very best for me!
I hope you too have learned the importance of being all washed up as well. Especially as concerns the Son of God, Jesus Christ. If not, I trust you will be washed and made clean this very day.
For in a spiritual sense, at least, cleanliness is very much next to Godliness!
The author, Melissa Rudy, is health editor and a member of the lifestyle team at Fox News Digital.
HYMN LYRICS SOURCE: