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Where HOPE Happens
Photo: Attila Czigany
I stood just inside the clinic and watched them come—an endless line of stern-faced Dalits filing toward Hope—each with pains that were magnified by their proximity to the registration table.

“I am 93. I cannot see much anymore. I cannot hear much anymore…even when my woman shouts. And I am constipated. Please help me!”

“Don’t put that thing around my arm! It might hurt me!”

“My stomach—right here—is in pain all of the time. It used to be that way right after I ate, but now it never stops, and I have lost all desire for eating. I am afraid, but the people said you will know what to do with me, so I am here.”

Each complaint was accompanied by wavings, pointings, and grimaces, all echoed by the throng of watchers and waiters. Our clinic provided a splash of color and laughter amidst the banana trees of India, a traveling circus of Hope.

Each morning mini-vans transported clinic teams to three different villages. Doctors and nurses rode beside university students, translators, pastors, and pharmacists each imagining the medical challenges that might walk into their lives that day.

And the challenges came! Many were terrified by our fancy instruments, and all were amazed that we could learn so much by placing the cold steel of a stethoscope against their warm skin.

Our volunteer missionaries, including Maranatha Volunteers International, Amazing Facts ministries, and the medical experts of AMEN (Adventist Medical Evangelism Network), listened to their voices and their hearts, and were often able to provide solutions to their complaints.

Great Scripts for a Reality TV Show

We stretched brightly colored fabric between coconut trees, added a few tables and chairs, and opened for business in a different village each morning. Registration required the skills of a questioner, translator, and recorder whose conversations, done loudly and in public, would provide great scripts for a reality TV show!

The whole village crowded close, nodding in agreement with descriptions of a stomach that made “too much gas” or of a head that hurt, “like it has been stepped on by a water buffalo.”

The miracle happened at the clinic “EXIT.” A consistent event that transcended age, gender, ailment, and village position, it happened with every person, every time! Each patient humbled us with the same request.

“Please bless me and give me hope.

We quickly realized that the very best “healing” we could provide was for one of our team members to place hands on the patient’s head and pray for them.

Aged women helped guide the caregiver’s hands to their head. Middle-aged men bowed through the prayer, and then asked the volunteer to “pray some more.” Patients cried during the prayers. Volunteers cried. And everyone hugged. Again and again and again, as if hugs cemented eternal bonds.

The people we met were pleased to be served by our nurses and doctors. They clutched their medicines like diamonds. And I’m sure that our technology and “funny ways” provided stories over meals for many months.

But HOPE happened when we prayed.

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By Dick Duerksen. Portions reprinted with permission from the Lake Union Herald, April 2007. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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