In November, I traveled to Uganda with a group of doctors and nurses for a medical campaign. We were headed to a community that was new to Bright Hope. In fact, this trip would be one of our first interactions with the church and community. Consequently, we entered into this new situation very prayerfully, knowing full well that our first impression could make or break this promising new partnership.
This week felt heavy in many ways. Whenever Bright Hope starts a partnership with a community, the need is absolutely overwhelming. And bringing a medical team makes the needs very apparent very quickly. Further, almost everyone on the team fell sick during the week. And a few got so ill they needed to pull out from activities for a day. Luckily, since we traveled with doctors, the sick received compassionate care.
But the medical ministry trip wasn’t just challenging because we were in a new community or because our team got sick. To give some perspective, I’ll share a story from our first clinic day.
Medical Ministry Stories of Hope
A woman came into our very small and hot makeshift clinic later in the day. I was given her prescriptions, grabbed an interpreter name Robert (the local schoolmaster), and went to give her instructions on how to take them. After we were done, I wanted Robert to ask her if I could pray for her as I did with each patient that day. Robert looked at me and said he knew of this lady and did not want to ask for her prayer requests because he knew her life was very, very bad. He repeated the word “very” several more times. I smiled and said, “Well, let’s do it anyway and let her share what she wants to share.”
Like many others we treated that day, she agreed receive our prayers, but expressed surprise when we asked for specific requests. She shared for a short while, and Robert interpreted and added more details. She asked that I pray for peace in her home. Her husband abused her physically, verbally, and sexually when he was home and not off with other ladies. Robert told me she receives no money from her husband, so she cannot provide food regularly for her kids. And none of them had ever been to school as they couldn’t afford the school fees. My heart broke as I heard this and remembered that her medication included treatment for sexually transmitted diseases—ailments that she had received from her abusive husband.
This dear woman, just a few years younger than me, has suffered so much. I grabbed her hand and went to find a place to sit down together. When I put my arm around her, she fell into my arms. I prayed boldly over her life and asked for big things from God for her. Tears fell from both our eyes. In the end, she said something to me I did not understand, and I said something to her she did not understand. But we held hands and smiled at each other. Sometimes hope begins by just knowing that someone cares.
You Can Share Hope Too
Moments like this happened regularly with each member of the team. I have never experienced a trip like this, where so many team members encountered so many divinely-appointed moments. Some were hilarious and joyful, and others were hard and painful. But what gets me fired up most is seeing the hope that multiplies as Bright Hope starts programs in a new community. I see a bigger perspective. I see people in their pain, but I can also see that hope is just around the corner. So, while my heart was breaking for these people, simultaneously, I couldn’t help but smile and pray and cheer for them to hang on because hope is coming! The hope Bright Hope gives is tangible, eternal, sustaining, and life-changing for those who choose to go after it!