It’s funny because although most things are tougher in Niger than in the states, some come easier. It is easier for me to hold fast to God here, because I need strength amidst the unfamiliar tragedies and foreign atmosphere. What has been more challenging is to do what He asks me. Especially since I want to pull the ‘isn’t coming here and serving enough?’ card.
As soon as I arrived, I felt that God wanted me to pray for the patients in the hospital. Yes, that is a command. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons (Matt 10:1, 8). The prayer offered in faith makes the sick person well (James 4:15). God chooses to work through natural and supernatural healing and I’m all for both. The doctors are wonderful here, with a strong belief in God‘s power, but they are strained, so they don’t always have time to walk around and lay hands of prayer on these desperately sick people.
Anywhere you are, God can heal, and we ignore the opportunities and make excuses. But when you are placed in the middle of a hospital in the world’s poorest country, there’s really no ignoring the opportunity…
...but heck yes, there ARE still excuses…
There are no words to describe this hospital. Just walking through with very little interaction, seeing two or more patients sharing one mat, takes a lot of my heart. Just watching doctors work, with very little resources against conditions I'd never thought I'd see or easily treatable U.S. illnesses, takes a lot of my heart. Just thinking about that one family member, who does nothing but sit and care for the patient day after day for sometimes months hoping for better results, takes a lot of my heart. It takes a lot of my soul to dive past the immense pain and suffering and smile at people. To display God given joy, to look past disease and weakness crawling up their bodies in order to show compassion.
Here in writing, it can seem like a story or easy to label as an amazing ministry opportunity, but the reality of suffering is harsh and preparing to connect more deeply with it is not fun.
Walk in all His ways, obey His commands. Not a lot of my heart, not a lot of my soul, all my heart, all my soul.
So I did what God was asking. While batting away thoughts from my human mind and personality that ‘I can‘t handle this’, I walked through and prayed for the many patients that agreed. Yes, a powerful God provided miraculous strength, joy, and relationship seeds despite pain and language barriers. Still, when I laid hands on them, some fevers felt like they were gonna burn off my skin, and faith and trust were not at all a feeling but a knowing.
And afterwards, the ache felt unreal, and I went home and sobbed from the things I saw and the people who I wanted to see alive during doctor’s rounds.
And I’ll go pray again and I will probably keep crying.
But it demanded obedience, and it took all my heart and all my soul. And I am so grateful for that…because God gets glory…so it will continue to be more than worth it.