Feature

Ministry of Hope

CAMA's medical center brings healing

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In many African nations, “hope” seems far away. AIDS, malnutrition, corruption, poverty and spiritual darkness press in from all sides. But in the midst of trouble, God is at work in N’Zao, Guinea, to bring hope and healing to His people.

Hope Medical Center began as a dream of American missionary Jon Erickson and Guinean evangelist Moise Mamy. Their efforts to alleviate physical suffering were greatly aided by dental training they received from short-term medical missions teams (Guinea Medical Teams). Hope Medical Center has operated on a limited basis since 2003. It began to operate at full strength in June 2007 as a ministry of Compassion and Mercy Associates (CAMA) and the Guinean national church to minister to the spiritual and physical needs of the Guinean people.

Each month that it was open in 2007, the center averaged about 500 patients. After adding more staff and hours of operation by 2008, staff members are now treating approximately 1,400 people each month through outpatient medical and dental services. Seven Guinean nurses are being trained to serve alongside a ministry staff of medical and evangelistic workers from various nations. As of early 2008, expatriate medical staff included one American doctor, one Dutch nurse, two American nurses and one English/American dental provider. In addition, the national Alliance church in Gabon sent two nurses as missionaries to Hope Medical Center—Jairus Bohimbo, who is originally from Cameroon, and his wife, Adeline, who is Gabonese.

Jesus often brought healing of both body and spirit to the oppressed, and clinic ministry often impacts individuals in more than one dimension of their lives. In addition to receiving treatment for physical ailments, each patient at the clinic hears the gospel through preaching and sees it lived out in compassionate care. About 20 to 30 patients each month make decisions to follow Jesus Christ.

A Family Brought to Faith

One of the young patients helped through the ministry of Hope Medical Center was Sammy, who was born in spring 2007 with a double cleft in his lip. Shortly after his birth, many women of his village wanted to drown him because they thought he was not a real human being. Just as they were starting to follow through with their intentions, Sammy’s dad, Ce, came home from working in the fields and intervened. Ce and one of Sammy’s aunts then brought the baby to the home of Jon Erickson, whose wife, Anja, is a nurse at Hope. Anja was in Holland visiting her family, so they took the baby to the medical center, where a nurse inserted a feeding tube to give him needed nutrition. The nurse called the little boy Samuel, and the name has stuck.

During the initial visit, missionaries talked extensively with Ce, and he came to know the Lord. Sammy’s mother came to Hope the next day, and Jon showed the couple pictures of children whose palates had been repaired. Now, several months later, Sammy has undergone successful surgical repair of his cleft lip on the Mercy Ship, which docked off the coast last fall, and his father is witnessing to many others in his village. Sammy’s mother, uncle and aunt have also become followers of Christ.

Changing Lives

Common health problems in Guinea include malaria, intestinal parasites, sexually transmitted diseases, gastric ulcers, hypertension, anemia and epilepsy. Though many people’s maladies are successfully treated by the staff, some have ailments too far advanced for man’s medicine to suffice. But while not all patients who come to the center experience physical healing, many are still touched emotionally and spiritually. Kol, a woman who was treated over the course of several months for multiple-system failure, eventually died despite intense medical intervention and scores of prayers offered on her behalf. But the center’s ministry to her rendered infinitely valuable results; before her death Kol prayed to accept Jesus into her life and sought to follow Him.

Tohonle came to the clinic in fall 2007 with a large cyst on her left hip. She was barely able to walk and was in much pain. After the cyst was removed, she was still in pain but had more ability to move and walk. Winces of pain were replaced with smiles as she eventually was able to walk unassisted and without an obvious limp.

Despite its current activities of operating outpatient medical and dental clinics, hosting visiting surgical teams and training national nurses, Hope has much to do to complete the process of becoming a full-fledged medical center.

Inpatient, general surgery and maternity services are desperately needed in this region of Guinea, which lacks competent hospitals. But no matter the facilities or programs in operation, the staff here counts it a true privilege to participate in Christ our Healer’s mission to bring healing of body and spirit to needy people in Guinea.

Hope Medical Center is supported by the CAMA Advance Fund. To contribute, visit CAMA online at www.camaservices.org/giving

 

Words of Peace

“Welcome, my friend!” A 26-year-old man and his wife had come into my consultation room, and it was evident he had been sick for a long time. In fact, he appeared to be in the end stages of AIDS. Just those words of greeting touched him because he had been shunned so often. The young man explained that he had gone from hospital to hospital in search of help. When that failed, he turned to animistic methods. While he was at a village looking for traditional medicine, he heard about Hope Medical Center. “Even if you don’t receive medicine that will heal you, you will be given words of peace,” the villagers told him. I asked what his problem was. “You don’t need to ask; just look at me,” he replied. He said that he was tired of going to hospitals, and he hadn’t found any words that could bring him peace. I explained, “It is true that you are tired, but as long as you are breathing, you still have hope.” “In my state, what kind of hope can I have?” he asked. He and his wife began crying. “You have a last hope,” I said. “When the wisdom of men ends, it is at that point that God’s wisdom begins.” I explained that in order to know God’s wisdom, he needed to understand the story of Jesus. And I shared the gospel, telling him about the blind man whom Jesus had healed. “The issue is not to have healing but to have eternal life,” I said. “In confessing your sins, you will have eternal life.” He asked three times if that was true. And then he confessed all his sins right in front of his wife and accepted Christ. As he was leaving, he said, “I have peace in my heart for the first time. Tonight, I will sleep for the first time in a long time.” —Jairus Bohimbo (as told to Lori Albright)

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