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Miracle at Mkar Hospital
Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) has been involved for many years in partnering with a Christian hospital in Mkar, Nigeria. Over 20 Service and Learning teams have travelled to Mkar over the years; Dr. John Van Dorp was on the January 2007 team. He shares with us a day in the life at Mkar Hospital.
The Men’s Ward was less than half full the first morning as we started rounds. My first patient had congestive heart failure. He was wearing a shirt from the London Ontario Health Science Centre which he had purchased in the local market. I went to medical school there and my daughter Nelvia, who was born in Mkar, did as well. So she persuaded him to pose for a picture.
The next patient had possible TB. He was awaiting test results, and would not be isolated to the TB ward until the diagnosis was confirmed.
The third patient had had a stroke ten days earlier. He had been deeply comatose ever since, and was being kept alive with tube feeding through his nose into his stomach. When I shouted into his ear, he did not respond. When I ground my knuckles into his chest, he did not wince. (That is one of the most painful things you can do to someone, short of torture.) He was far gone. In my own mind, I was framing the phrases to tell his wife that her husband’s prognosis was hopeless, that she would do well to take him home to die. That sort of frankness is much appreciated there. Alas, death is all too familiar, and coping with the reality of expensive care beyond hope is more on an issue for them that it is for us with insurance and / or universal health care. One of my colleagues, Dr. John Kanis, a first-timer in Nigeria, and from a more demonstrative denomination than my own, interrupted my train of thought with “Well, at least we should pray for him; there’s nothing else we can do.” With a heavy heart, I stood at his bed and prayed for strength, for recovery and for healing for this man and for his devoted wife and family.
We then moved on; the next patient had typhoid. We had medicine for him, but in the end it was to no avail.
Our next patient had hepatitis. As I was sorting him out however, we were all thunderstruck. Iorheen, the man with the stroke, had begun to speak!
I wish I could say that he took up his bed and walked on out of there, but that is not how it was. His speech was confused. Even a week later, he rambled on and on about being prayed for. He was so confused that I still do not know if he was reprimanding me for having given him up to prayer, or thanking me for having prayed for him. In the ischemic fog of his damaged brain, he endlessly replayed his epiphany. Then he got pneumonia and failed. I started him on antibiotics. He rallied. He sat up. Hesitantly, with a walker, he wobbled a few steps. His head cleared; he became fully coherent! Four weeks after his stroke, he went home, walking with a stick and praising God!
The disciples asked Jesus if the blind man in John 9:1 – 12 had sinned or had it been the consequence of the sin of his parents that he had been born blind. “Neither”, said Jesus, “this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
Two other stroke victims came in during the next two weeks. Both were younger (good prognosis), both equally severe (bad prognosis). In spite of even more hopeful prayer, both died.
Why God answered the prayer for one and not the others is a more profound mystery than I am able to plumb, but that he did answer my hesitant, doubtful, unbelieving (?) prayer for Iorheen is a conviction that I shall carry to my grave.
Praise be to God!!!
by Dr. John Van Dorp