It happened a year ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. We evaluated a man with severe pain. He had an incarcerated hernia. He said that he was unable to go to the hospital because he didn’t have the money to pay for the treatment, medication, and IV fluids required for his care. And even if he made it to a hospital, he would be turned away. No money means no care. Our team knew that without treatment this man would die, leaving his family without income, food, and housing.
Unfortunately, in developing countries, this is all too common of a story. If my life circumstances were different, this could have been my story. In 1982 I had an injury that required 2 hospitalizations, and without the amazing care I received my future would have looked completely different. During my time at the hospital, I witnessed the incredible compassion of the nursing staff. I was so moved by their kindness and care, that I was inspired to become a nurse! For the next 20 years I worked as a nurse in the Chicago area. My first job was at La Rabida Children’s Hospital where many of the children had special needs. While there, I met the first of my two adopted sons. I worked in multiple children hospitals, as a supervisor for a home health care agency, as a risk management coordinator at the University of Chicago Hospital, and as the Nurse Associate with the Chief of Neurosurgery at the University of Chicago. All of these positions helped me prepare to start an organization called Mission Partners for Christ.
At Mission Partners for Christ we believe that everyone deserves access to quality medical care and the gospel. This is why we are serving unreached people in very poor and remote parts of the world, who have little or no access to medical care.
There are so many people that die unnecessarily from illness’ such as diarrhea (dehydration and lack of access to clean water), infections, heart disease, stroke, HIV/Aids, malaria, and typhoid fever. Many of these are easily treatable and preventable, but there is a lack of access to medical care and little to no education on prevention. To make matters worse, we serve in areas where there is no education about sexually transmitted diseases and often men have several wives. If a husband dies, and he is the primary income provider, he may leave several wives without income or food to feed many children. A mother may feel she has no better option than to put her children in an orphanage or possibly abandon them. Also, there is a very high maternal mortality rate as women don’t receive prenatal care and generally deliver their children at home. These factors do not just affect individuals, they affect entire families and generations to come.
I find this situation both frustrating and hopeful. It is frustrating because it doesn’t have to be this way. So many of these things are easily preventable. On one of my first trips, almost half of the adult patients we evaluated had extremely high blood pressure. They didn’t even know their blood pressure was high! But this is also why it is hopeful. If many of these things are easily preventable, that means we can do something about it! We can use the time and talents we possess to go into these remote places and serve people through both health and education. We have the ability to provide medical care and health education that is saving lives and keeping families together. This is preventing children from becoming orphans in the first place.
I was given the gift of a life where I had the ability to become a nurse and a professional. And although I am retired from nursing, that doesn’t mean that my job is over. I still have the ability to use my gifts and talents to pour myself out for others and serve them. I have seen time and time again how my gift as a nurse has been used in ways I never expected. I find so much JOY in serving and I believe you could too.
I believe God is always working purposefully. If I hadn’t been hospitalized in 1982, I wouldn’t have become a nurse. And if I hadn’t become a nurse, I would have never started my organization. And had I never started my organization, I would have never met that man with a hernia. But I did meet that man….and we saved his life…and this helped prevent yet another vulnerable family.