Kingdom opportunity follows house call
By Samuel | Paraguay in América del Sur
Samuel, a family physician from Australia, and his family moved to Paraguay two years ago to be involved in rural evangelism and church planting where there aren’t any churches. He and his wife Kate are both doctors who use their medical skills to help the Paraguayan people.
It’s been hard to practise medicine in a different context. When consulting with patients, I enter a whole new realm of the Guaraní language that I don’t yet understand. Many of the cultural differences in the ways people experience and express illness are still a mystery to me. A good deal of my patients can’t travel to nearby cities to have necessary blood tests or medical imaging. Occasionally, it feels like there’s little medical help to offer some of the patients.
Despite this, many cases have given us hope and perspective on what we are doing here. On one occasion, a local believer came and asked me to see one of their neighbours, an elderly gentleman, who had a large infected area on his lower back. The local health post had told him to go to the hospital, but this man was refusing to go out of fear. Many Paraguayans view hospital as where you go to die.
I went to see him in his house – a humble single-room dwelling, mostly taken up by a bed, along with sparse shelves and a corner for cooking food. After spending some time over tereré, a Paraguayan tea, and getting to know him, I examined his back and found a hole the size of a small orange on his back that was oozing pus. Thankfully for this man, it was an infected sebaceous cyst – something which is rarely serious and usually heals well. So, I applied the necessary triple-therapy: I cut it out, gave him antibiotics and prayed for him.
I ended up going back to see him a number of times to review his progress and dress his wound. He recovered completely over the following weeks and was very appreciative. In the end, it turned out to be something the local health post or hospital could have managed without me, but I was glad to have been able to meet and help this man.
I’ve since reflected that this was a far greater kingdom opportunity than the “medical problem” I initially took it for. I was invited into this man’s life in a way that most other missionaries could not have been, because of the medical skills God gave me. This man wanted the medicine, but what followed was a relationship. I was able to get to know him over the few hours I spent with him, talking about life and health. And I was able to share with him the reason for the hope I have within me, pray for him in his need and point him toward salvation in Christ.
• that, as patients come seeking treatment for their physical ailments, they would see their spiritual sickness and a greater need of the Great Physician.
• for God-given wisdom, language, cultural understanding and skill so that we can provide quality, loving medical care in the name of Christ.
• for Paraguay that the gospel would reach those dark places where it isn't being heard, and that God would be pleased to bring a flood of Paraguayans into his kingdom.