Sometimes we wonder – Does short-term medical missions make a difference?
In North Africa
Christians are arrested if they evangelize. As American medical personnel we were allowed to evangelize. We gave full gospel presentations several times and prayed with almost every patient. It was CLEAR the Holy Spirit was at work! We even had a few individuals profess their faith in Jesus Christ.
Amidst the Muslim culture, it was awesome to see the truth being preached. During evening service, as we were singing praises to the one true God, we heard the Muslim call to prayer being broadcasted on the speakers throughout the city (it was broadcast 5 times a day). Yet we kept right on singing! A true light in the darkness!
One of the patients I saw was an anorexic, which is not something they see in the Muslim culture. We spoke with her and her father at length about the severity of her condition, trying to convince them to go to the hospital immediately. At the end, we prayed with them and they left. I left that day feeling very depressed and saddened by her state, knowing that in a few short weeks she would be dead. We discovered the next day, her Uncle, a fundamentalist, militant Muslim, had found out what we had done and contacted the Pastor of our Christian church to tell him “how blessed they felt at the loving and kindness showed upon his niece.” Even if I never again see the fruit of my labor, I will never question the necessity of medical ministries!
This is the last in a series of posts on Erin’s trip to North Africa. To view yesterday’s account of Erin’s trip click here.
What is it like to be a Christian in a Muslim dominated society?
One young boy I treated was still suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, years after he was repeatedly beaten by his “friends.” The cause of the beatings? He was an Christian.
Muslim wives are to be totally dependent and obedient to their husbands. Men can marry up to four women if they can support them. Throughout most of North Africa Muslim women are required by law to wear a burqa headdresses. This of course makes it easy to spot a Christian woman. An uncovered head frequently serves as a target for beatings.
There are often guardhouses or towers beside Christian church entrances and armed guards are placed inside the churches for the “safety” of the worshipers. Christian congregations must submit petitions for any building, repair or renovation of church buildings to the government. All such work depends on government approval. Churches still often are required to shut their blinds to the outside during worship time so as not to “offend” anyone outside from hearing the Christian word being preached.
Christians in North Africa are forbidden from speaking of their faith to any Muslim for fear of being put into prison. However, Muslims are more than welcome to share their faith openly to anyone they want to. Great bureaucratic hurdles must be overcome to build a church or even to replace a pane of glass or repair a toilet. The government can and routinely does obstruct church life by refusing or delaying permission for the building and repair of churches.
Muslims account for 90% of the population in North Africa.
To view yesterday’s account of Erin’s trip click here. Come back tomorrow to view more pictures and read additional stories of Erin’s experience in North Africa.
While Erin was in North Africa
she was able to treat over 200 patients. Here is just one of her experiences:
On the second day the clinic was open, a Muslim woman wearing a full head-to-toe black burqa arrived with her very sick child. Before treating the child Erin prayed over the mother and child in the name of Christ. Upon assessing the child it was determined that it had a severe blood infection, and left untreated, the child had less then a week to live.
Erin administered medication and instructed the mother to bring her child back for additional treatments. After the third visit the child was clearly happy and on the road to recovery. The mother, in tears, was so grateful she kissed Erin, gave her a flower and repeated dozens of times, two of the only English words she knew, “thank you.”
To view yesterday’s account of Erin’s trip click here
. Come back tomorrow to view more pictures and read additional stories of Erin’s experience in North Africa.
This is the first in multipart series of brief stories and pictures about Erin’s trip to North Africa
Erin arrived home today from her two week medical mission trip to North Africa. Their team of 16 doctors and nurses treated over 1000 patients. Erin treated over 200 in pediatrics alone.
They prayed and handed out Christian tracts and children’s books to Muslims and Christians. The materials they handed out were in Arabic.
It was a challenge to hear the five calls to prayer being chanted over the loudspeakers each day. The heat and sand were difficult. The open persecution of Christians was heart-wrenching. With that, it was clear that the Holly Spirit was energizing the team to work, pray and serve.
Each of the next few days we will update this site with new pictures and stories from the trip. Come back often.
We don’t have final numbers yet, but it looks like we treated over 600 patients! Incredible! We prayed with almost all of them – Muslim and Christian alike! Only had a few Muslim patients refuse. We ran six clinics – internal medicine, cardiac, neurology, orthopedics, ob-gyn, and pediatrics/psychiatry. I was initially told I was going to be working with a pediatric doctor, and that I would be assisting – it ended up that I was the pediatric doctor. The person I was supposed to work with was used in a different capacity. I diagnosed and treated about 100 patients in my clinic alone! We are finishing up our medical trip by visiting two orphanages.
The true miracles we saw were in the spiritual realm. We were able to bridge spiritual gaps by treating physical needs. Incredible! I will NEVER again discredit the huge spiritual benefit of medical mission teams.
We were never on down-time. We started each day getting up at 6:00am, and not getting into bed until 11:00pm each night. From the time we got up until the time we laid down we were busy! Even at dinner time away from the clinic, people would just show up with their x-rays or lab results in their hands, desperate to see an American doctor and we would treat them over dinner. We had several people show up at our bus before our day even started, and we were treating and diagnosing people on the street corner. It was incredible! As you can imagine, also exhausting! We are beat to a pulp! I will say we used every minute of every day doing God’s work, so although we are physically exhausted, we feel well used!
Our work finishes here today. Tomorrow we start the slow trip home. When I get home I will provide more detailed stories and pictures.
To get an overview of what Erin is doing in North Africa go to this blog entry