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11 September 2018

The Patient in Bed 21 and the Hope of Christ

Life is not fair. It’s not fair that your husband whom you married and hoped would love and protect you instead turns out to be a drug addict and gives you HIV.

It’s not fair when the promise of a new future is instantly destroyed after your two babies die of AIDS. Life is not fair when that husband abandons you. It’s not fair after all this, you are now lying in a hospital bed, feverish, barely able to breathe, not having enough energy to even walk to the bathroom. Everything important has been taken from you. Why go on struggling to live another day?

When I first met WG, I only knew her as “Bed 21, 26 year old HIV female with fever and difficulty breathing”. Her medical problems were very typical, but what caught my attention was that her chest x- ray showed her heart size being unexpectedly large, a sign of heart failure. Little did I know then of the family tragedy she had already lived through, leaving her “broken-hearted”. Is this what a broken heart looks like from the inside?

We first tried medications but that didn’t help WG’s heart. We then sent her twice on a 3-hour trip to the nearest city to get an ultrasound of her heart, which showed her heart was indeed very weak. WG’s condition continued to worsen; she couldn’t even lie down in bed without becoming extremely breathless. So, we tried switching her HIV medications to ones that had fewer side effects and gave her the only tank of oxygen we had in the HIV hospital. As WG made no improvements, we the doctors were getting desperate. A visiting HIV expert and I looked one more time at her chest x-ray and thought we saw faint signs of PCP, a pneumonia peculiar to AIDS patients. With nothing to lose, we decided to start WG right away on treatment for possible PCP. The next day as we made rounds in the hospital, we were flabbergasted to find her lying flat in bed, not needing oxygen! And the following day, WG was able to walk to the bathroom by herself. A week later, I saw her walking outside around the hospital parking lot, enjoying some sun. If you ask WG what made her well, her answer would be simple- it was because of prayer. Prior to her hospital stay, she had never heard of Jesus or Christianity, but she was willing for me to pray for her. And miraculously, the day I started praying with her for God’s healing mercy, WG said she started to feel better. Hoping she would personally come to know God’s incomparable love and power, I also shared with her the gospel story. Starting from the creation, the fall of man to the life of Jesus, I especially slowed down to describe how Jesus loved and healed the poor in spirit and physically ill. When I told her He was nailed to a cross and killed by evil men, she was genuinely shocked and pained. But when WG heard of Jesus’ glorious resurrection, her face broke out into a huge smile, a smile I had not seen from her before. I asked her if she wanted to believe in Jesus and have everlasting life, she practically jumped out of her bed and said a very loud “Yes!”. For the remainder of WG’s hospital stay, we prayed more together and some of our teammates visited her and lent an MP3 player for her to listen to praise songs in [her] language.

Life is often not fair from our human perspective. Without God, life can really be full of misery. But Jehovah God can take the rubble of our lives and craft His own story of redeeming mercy!

Will you pray for Medical Missions?

  • Praise God for WG ‘s steps of faith and pray she would stay healthy, be able to meet with other believers and grow in love for God.
  • Pray God would use WG to witness to what God has done for her.
  • Praise God for Christian medical professionals who, through their work and words can share the love of Christ. Pray for wisdom for when to speak of Christ and the right words for each situation.

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Medical Missions

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