Friday, 26 August 2016

Taking Medicine and Prayers to the Villages



The Himalayas are the highest mountain range in the world. With peaks extending about 1500 miles across South Asia, the Himalayas separate the vast plains of northern India from the Tibetan plateau. Nine of the ten highest peaks on earth lay along this vast, rocky terrain. The tallest, Mount Everest, is 29,029 feet high.


I am in a Himalayan village in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh (HP). The elevation of this village is roughly 8,990 feet. The sight of mustard fields juxtaposed against snow-capped mountains makes for an absolutely majestic view. It is impossible to not worship our Almighty God, the
creator of heavens and earth. He is worthy of all our praise!

Amidst the beauty, however, there is pain and illness. My mission is resolute: to lead a surgical camp for poor and remote villagers who have no access to medicine. I breathe in and out, preparing myself for the weighty work ahead. 


HEALING THE LAND AND ITS PEOPLE 
In any nation, it is the women and children who are most negatively impacted by poverty and sickness. The majority of those we will be taking care of in this medical camp are women. Devie is one such young lady.  

Devie lives in a remote village. The snow in her mountain village has started to melt, allowing her to brave the journey to our surgical camp. Her village has no access to medicine, so she has been suffering from a thyroid condition for the last five years. “It began as a small lump,” Devie explains, “It has advanced to the size of a tennis ball.”

Around 42 million Indians suffer from thyroid related disorders, and women make up 60% of those affected.
Goiters, or growths in the thyroid gland due to iodine deficiency, are very common in rural villages.
Our medical team plans to operate on Devie the next day. The people here need healing, both spiritually and physically.

HEALING THROUGH MEDICINE AND PRAYER

On day one of the  camp, we completed twelve surgeries, and we anticipate doing about 12-18 more . Some of the surgeries will include gallbladder removal (cholecy- stectomy), uterus removal for prolapse (hysterectomy), kidney stone removal, and thyroidectomy.

The first patient is Shanti. She is about 50 years old, but cannot calculate her date of birth. She hobbles up on her feet as I approach her. I can see intense pain in her eyes. Shanti tells me that the pain began on the right side of her abdomen. She goes into greater detail, “The pain comes and goes, but the intensity keeps increasing each year.” For the past five years, Shanti endured these attacks, hoping the pain would go away on its own. At one point, the village healer offered some herbs and did some chants, but there was no respite. The nearest doctor was several hours away, so she suffered quietly.

Soon, the pain became too difficult to bear, so her husband decided to take her to the doctor. This required a three-hour trek from her village. At the hospital, the ultrasound revealed a stone in Shanti’s gallbladder, and surgery was recommended. However, going to the nearest surgical hospital would require a few more hours of travel by bus. Shanti and her husband were terrified by the prospect of staying in a city with complex, foreign ways.

MOUNTAIN TRAILS
Additionally, when her husband realized how much the procedure would cost, he was shocked. He knew they could never afford the surgery. Downcast and melancholy, the couple trekked back the three hours to their 10,000 feet high mountain village.

Then, a few weeks prior to the medical camp, someone told Shanti about our ministry. Shanti eagerly came for a pre-check up, and a flicker of hope rose within her. Today, she returns to the medical camp for her operation.

I hold Shanti’s pale hands. She is very weak. Because one’s Gallbladder contracts on food intake, Shanti had stopped eating properly. She is gaunt and emaciated from loss of nutrients. Her hands begin to tremble in mine. Her husband entreats, “We do not have money.” I smile and assure him that we are doing this out of our love for Christ. We do not serve for money.

THE SURGERY

Shanti is placed on the makeshift operating table, and spinal anesthesia is administered. I pray and take the scalpel. Making a vertical incision above the gall bladder region, I move quickly. It is going to be a long day.

As the surgery continues, the team keeps talking to Shanti. There is no screen in such a rudimentary set up, so privacy is at a minimum. A person assisting remarks, “It seems that our verbal anesthesia (the ongoing conversation to keep Shanti distracted) is more effective than the spinal one.”

The surgery goes well. I finally close her up. Now that this 30-minute procedure is complete, it is time to care for the next patient.

Resting in a makeshift bed, Shanti will be kept under observation for 24 hours before trekking back to her village. By the grace of God, she should live a healthy, pain-free life.   

For the next several hours, we work non-stop, with the exception of a few breaks, into the early evening.  

The Inspiration: A Beautiful Call

Serving our Lord is such a great privilege. It is truly a beautiful call to be His hands by bringing God’s healing to people through the power of medicine and prayer. In fact, a significant part of Jesus’ ministry was to heal the sick. Healing—of bodies, souls, and communities—is a central component in the Kingdom of God.

It is our call to proclaim the good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, release the prisoners from darkness, comfort all who mourn, and bestow a crown of beauty instead of ashes (Isaiah 61). What a privilege; what a beautiful call. May His Kingdom come on this earth, as it is in heaven.
                                                                                                   

SETTING UP THE CAMP

Compelled carries out medical camps in remote places in South Asia, primarily for the poor and those without access to any medicine. In the last twelve months, this ministry has completed twelve medical camp missions.

 I independently lead the general medicine camps with prayer and physical support from a handful of fellow missionaries. The knowledge of family medical practice enables me to treat various illness, while educating the villagers on immunization, hygiene, and female health. Ultimately, the cornerstone of our medical camps is praying for the people and sharing the truth of Jesus. Once we end the camp, the nearest missionary family follows up with those who received treatment in each respective village.

In addition to general medicine camps, we also lead surgical camps. Because performing operations requires trained specialists, I join hands with few other friends , including an anesthesiologist. As a general surgeon, I do the surgeries, usually with the team.

To set up a surgical camp, we typically find a confined space in the village or town, cleaning it thoroughly to serve as our operation room. At times, we must fumigate the room to drive out rats and insects.

A wooden table or two covered by clean, plastic sheets acts as the operating table. Basic, necessary equipment, which team members bring, is set up the evening before the camp begins. Finally, it is essential to find good, working flashlights, in case the operations continue into the night and electricity is unavailable or does not cooperate.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Kingdom Come on this Earth

It is estimated that more than 280 million adults in India, mostly tribal and oppressed castes, are illiterates. This amounts to 37% of the global total. Lack of education keeps one under bondage, often taken advantage by the conniving money lenders and lords.

India is home to the largest number of poor people in the world. Poverty leads one to unimaginable oppression. Millions of Indian children work as bonded slaves or in brothels. It is estimated that more than 50 million children in India alone are bonded servants, a modern version of slavery.

Lack of education of adults is directly linked to such poverty and children being sold into sexual slavery or as bonded servants. It is therefore with great passion, Compelled is engaged in educating children and adults in South Asia. Right now, more than 8000 children are being educated directly by us. We send them to schools or we educate them in our village schools. In addition, we send trained adult education teachers to target remote tribes and vulnerable villagers to help them learn know to read, write, and count.



Children in one of our girls home (borders of Nepal) and receiving education in one of our village schools
Literacy Class in a village
Timka lives in a very remote mountain village in central-west India. He says, “We used to be tricked by the lords in town when we would sell them our produce. We did not know how to count or measure. We did not know what the market prices were. So, whatever they gave we took it, not knowing that we were being cheated in every way.” Today, Timka knows how to count and understands how to be aware of market price. He gets a fair price for his produce and lives a good life. He says, “These pastors broke the ropes that tied my mind to darkness.” This freedom has now helped Timka to understand the value of education. Today, all his children now to go school. This is part of establishing God's Kingdom on this earth. 

Adult Literacy Class


May your Kingdom come, may your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven! 

Friday, 1 July 2016

The Hope of Education

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)

The waiting, the hoping, the wishing – the longing a child feels who can’t attend school is palpable, powerful, and intense. What seems like a basic right is unattainable for thousands of children across the nation. 

Deepak was one such child. 

Born into a tribal family, Deepak’s mother ran away from her abusive husband when he was only two years old and, at the age of four, he lost his father. His grandparents fostered him for some time. Miserable and lonely, Deepak could barely put one foot in front of the other from day to day. Then, most unexpectedly, hope found its way to Deepak in the form of one of our pastor who brought him to one of our several Children Home in India. His studies and all his needs were taken care of by us. Today, he has finished his schooling and is pursuing college-level studies. 

This great accomplishment would not have been possible without the faithful support he received, year after year, to continue his schooling and studies. Thanks to the commitment of our partners who give hope and economic freedom through education to these children. 

The new school year in most of South Asia will begin in the month of July. Every child will need a new set of uniform, shoes, books, pencils and other school supplies to start the new school year. On behalf of these children we wish to share this opportunity for you to consider providing one or more ‘back to school pack’. For US $25 you can fund a basic “back to school” pack for a child, releasing them from financial constraints that would otherwise prohibit school attendance. 

Each basic “back to school bag” includes a set of books, a new uniform, and basic school supplies. As the school year begins in July, we humbly ask you considering personifying hope – just like one of our missionaries and few faithful donors did for Deepak. 

We thank you for your continued support! Please pray and support in making a difference in the life of one child.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The God of the Living

Brother Chandan shares:

“I serve among a tribe that lives in the remote jungles of north India. The tribals are poor, illiterate, and survive on the produce collected from the forest and cultivation they carry out on cleared forest land. They are often a oppressed people. 

Some of the villagers in this remote tribe carry out all kinds of sacrifice. Last year, I began to pray for these villagers. None of them had heard about our Lord. I was unsure when I visited them if I will be accepted or killed. Yet I prayed; and with God's courage I went to them.

When I reached the first village, the villagers encircled me. I told them, "I have words of life, if you will let me share." I told them the story of the Roman centurion who came to Jesus for the healing of his sick servant (Matt. 8:5-13). After I shared the story, one of the elders said, "These are truly words of life." They were hearing about Jesus Christ for the first time in their lives. They asked me to continue to share.

I spoke about a God who heals our hearts and our lives. As I closed, one man rose up and said, "I have never heard such words before. Our entire village and my family have faithfully worshipped the spirits of these forests. But we constantly remain under dark weight. A weight - of illnesses and quarrelling and uneasiness - remains upon us." The day that I visited and spoke; five members of one family became sick.

The villagers asked me to stay with them and continue to teach in the evening. I shared from the life of Abraham and slept in one of their huts.  I very carefully shared about Isaac being taken up for sacrifice and how God offered a ram in his place. I briefly shared about the perfect sacrifice of God in Jesus Christ. I did wonder if I will be killed that night, but I trusted in God. When I woke up the next day, I was very glad to be alive.

Later that morning, before I headed out of the forest, I decided to go to the home of the family whose five members were sick. The villagers were informed that I was visiting this sick family. Soon, the entire clan and several villagers gathered around the hut. As I went in, the head of the clan said, "If your Jesus is a true God, then ask Him to heal this family. We want to see if your book is true for us."

I had a God-given courage in my heart. After all, I represented Him as a living God. So, with all the boldness of the Kingdom of God, I put my hand on the head of this man and began to pray. As I began to pray, I noticed that the oldest man began to breathe heavily. I did not fully understand all that was happening, but realized that God was doing something. Then their teenage daughter, who had severe and constant chest pain, sat up. I continued to pray with all that I had. By the end, all five family members were able to get up from their sick beds, move around, and declare that they felt perfectly well.

The family immediately put their faith in our Lord. The elders have asked me to return so that they can think more about the 'living words' I have shared.”

We request your prayers for Brother Chandan and this village. 

Friday, 1 January 2016

Leprous Heart

In the Western Ghats (mountain ranges) in south-eastern India are found the Koya and the Domba tribe. Not long ago, we began to reach out to these tribes. There was severe opposition followed by persecution. However, our missionary brothers and sisters stood strong in prayer and in the Lord. 

Now, in one of these villages lived a lady infected with leprosy. She was shunned by the villagers and lived a lonely life. She had tried with-craft, magic, sacrifices and every thing that her tribe was aware of. Yet, the numbness and lesions kept on growing. One day one of our traveling evangelist visited her village. He began to share with her about Jesus healing the ten lepers (Luke 17:12-19). She was suddenly interested. "Can Jesus heal me today?" she asked. Our missionary stretched out His hands and began to pray. He then asked her to pray to Jesus every day. "Believe in Jesus. He is gracious to the poor," he explained. 

The lady went home, wondering about the encounter she had that day. 

When the lady woke up the next morning, she felt a drastic difference. Her faith was emboldened. She began to pray. To the surprise of the villagers, this leper lady was visibly and completely healed in few weeks. In few months she was completely restored. "My Jesus has healed me," she began to tell others.  The tribal village began to open up their heart. The village chief invited our evangelist and said, "My heart feels leprous. How can my hearts be healed by Jesus?" Our missionary brother shared the Good News of Jesus becoming man to provide forgiveness for our sins. At the end of their conversation, the head-man of the village bent his head and informed that he was ready to receive God's forgiveness. Today, more than 40 people gather in that village every day to worship our Lord Jesus Christ. Many other villages who heard of this miracle have also now opened up their doors to the Gospel. Praise God!