Without apology, I must confess a passion. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to travel to various foreign countries on ministry trips. Sometimes I have travelled alone, or with a partner, or with a medical missions’ team. These travels have taken me to Central and South America, Africa, Europe, the mid-East, and the Caribbean Islands. No trip was glamorous.
My confession is that in each place I visited, I asked the contact person if I could stop at a local hospital and pray with patients. What an experience! First of all, I never had to wait in a line of people who wanted to pray for the sick. Mostly, the nurses, or whatever abled body person they could find to attend the infirm, were more than happy to see a willing visitor.
The hospitals were usually a lonely place. And by the way, some of those medical facilities were more like Cub Scout tents that should have been discarded. Dirt floors and suspicious needles were common. You could hear people crying in pain while others kept begging the under-staffed personnel for medication.
In East Africa, I visited a clinic for victims of female genital mutilation. The patients were mostly young girls that had been attacked by heathens, and now suffered physical and emotional torture that would last their lifetime. Unfair! How did these reprobates obtain the power to ravage a young girl’s life? Where was the religious community? Sadly, these horrible attacks continue to happen even to this day. So sick.
In West Africa, I visited a hospital for deformed and mentally ill children that had been abandoned. This hospital was a wonderful place for healing. Though the incredible disabilities of the children brought me to tears, I was amazed at the love, care, and sensitivity of the attendants.
One hospital I visited was in a former Soviet Bloc nation. A local evangelist took my fellow minister and me to a neglected downtown building. We walked in off the street, up some stairs, and into the ICU room. In the States, the ICU is frequently guarded like a military base. If admitted at all, a visitor would first be quizzed about their own health. Then, they would have to scrub their hands, put on gloves and a paper apron. Often the visitor has to wear a hair net and face mask.
But we walked into this ICU room as we were. The windows were open and there were no screens. Six or seven patients were either standing, sitting, or walking around the room. The patient we visited was very sick in bed. No one wore protective gear, or even tried to isolate the more ill patients. I prayed for her, for them, and for me! How sad to see people in a place that could actually make them worse.
What made the difference in the facilities? In my experience, wherever Christians were in charge, the hospital or clinic was clean, sanitary, and truly a place of healing. Human life was respected and protected. You see, knowing Christ makes you love the unborn, care for the unpleasant, and protect the elder. Life is seen as a gift from God and is to be cherished, nourished, and loved.
Ask the former demon possessed man in Mark 5: 15 that found freedom and deliverance in Jesus. After all of his miserable experiences, he was found “sitting and clothed and in his right mind.” Christ makes the difference!