Last month I traveled to Uganda to work with a multinational team of healthcare professionals from Uganda, Michigan, New York, and the United Kingdom. Our four diverse teams merged together into one unit to meet the "whole person" needs of patients at an outreach for Kampala Baptist Church.
The image that will stay with me forever is of a young 24-year-old woman obviously dying from a liver problem. Last December she was a beautiful and healthy graduate from Makerere University. Yet I thought she was elderly when they carried her into the clinic on a plastic lawn chair—distended abdomen, swollen legs, emaciated, jaundiced. Medically there was really nothing to do. But, as one of the pastors so eloquently said, "She's here because Jesus wants her soul."
One of our nurses from Michigan triaged her to the first available doctor. Later the nurse talked more with her, sharing Christ and praying with her. That evening, I said that her name indicated she might be Muslim. She had come to a free clinic at a well-known Baptist church for help, but the answer to her need was Jesus. She was neither offended nor accepting. The church will continue to care for her, sharing their love and compassion in the name of Christ, and we trust her soul to Jesus.
Our medical team functioned like an efficient machine. We cared for 2,896 patients and finished by 5:00 pm every day. More importantly, a team of Ugandan counselors talked with people and offered to pray with them. They led 43 people to follow Jesus for the first time.
Our second week was spent in western Uganda visiting remote mountain churches on the Uganda/Congo border. Some churches hadn't had a "visitor" in eight years. It was a great joy to meet brothers and sisters in Christ faithfully serving him in distant, out-of-the-way places.
God also made himself known in his creation through our day off at safari park. We saw zebras and elephants, including a nursing mother and rollicking youths. At one point an entire herd of elephants blocked the road, causing us to back up to avoid a stampede. Then we saw the elephants in silhouette walking along the rim of the crater. When we turned around to take another track, we were rewarded with a pack of hyenas crossing in front of us, something I’ve seen only once before.
We are grateful to use our nursing skills to assist people around the world!
--by Connie Jarlsberg, RN, NCF Missions Specialist