I've been trying to stay upbeat these last several days. Things here have not been going as I'd like. Certainly, I'm not in control of this situation over here! I've seen so many people that I could have helped - if they had presented 6 months ago instead of now. I've lost track of the number of patients that are too advanced for any hope of a surgical cure. For these impoverished areas, it is rare that patients have the money to travel to Nairobi and pay for radiation therapy - something even the uninsured in America would get. So, if there is not a surgical cure, most cases there's not a cure at all. I've spent too much time helping the surgery residents explain that there's nothing that can be done for them. Their life is in God's hands and they will be healed, but maybe not on this earth. I believe that God can cure any of them, if it be His will. Ironically, my tea bag at dinner tonight had a verse on it: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways. Isaiah 55:8 If I were God I'd cure every last one of them! But, certainly I am not and I don't understand His plans. But, I know that He has plans for each one of these people.
So, I have prayed the last several nights for just one victory. One patient who we can save. Just one, please! Well, today God gave me what I prayed for, but not exactly as I thought it would come. The man came to us with difficulty swallowing for over a month. I was working with a family practice resident, Dr. Castro Mugala, whom I admire very much. Unfortunately, I had been able to show him several types of head and neck cancer - all unresectable (too far advanced for surgical removal). This patient was actually no different. His tumor started at the back of his tongue and came all the way forward to just behind his teeth. He couldn't lift or move his tongue on the right side because of the cancer growing just under it. His neck was full of metastatic nodes and the tumor had invaded his mandible (jaw bone). He was having pain which radiated to his right ear. Cerainly, he was not a surgical candidate and even radiation would not work on this advanced disease, even if he could afford it. So, how was my prayer answered by this man? Dr. Mugala and I planned for hospice, discussed tracheostomy and a feeding tube for him. But, we also discussed the need to talk to him about Jesus Christ. I believe that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross atoned for all of my sins and this man's sins. It is a free gift of grace that we need only accept. This patient, whose days are few in number on this earth, accepted Christ right there in the clinic. He got on his knees and prayed with Dr. Mugala in swahili - oh, how I wish I could speak swahili! Later, a chaplain came to follow up with him and he left just after getting a bible - in his own language!
So, my prayer for victory was answered. Not through surgery, but through the saving grace of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Yes, he will die - as we all will. But this man came to Christ today! I smiled all morning because what he recieved today is more precious than any surgery or cure. His life will now be eternal! God, indeed does have His ways.
I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future! Jeremiah 29:11