Friday, June 02, 2006

The hospital was the hardest place to go. We went to the children's ward to a government hospital located in Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland. I knew it would be nothing like the hospital where BJ spent the end of his life, but I was still nervous. It was my second time in a hospital since he died, and my first in the children's ward.

The first thought that struck me as we walked the dirty hallways weaving in and out of doors, and then through the children's wing, was that BJ had everything in the medical world -- up-to-date technology, current knowledge, cutting-edge procedures -- and still he died. In this filthy African hospital, where children came to be healed, it seemed much more likely to me that they would meet death instead.

The battle for life and death in this place was almost tangible.

There were four rooms in the ward. In the first, filled with nearly a dozen premie babies wrapped in layers of blankets since they didn't have incubators, I just sobbed. As I watched through the glass into a separate section of the room, I saw a cockroach crawling around on one of the sheets. Mothers sat with their bundled babies. I went to pray with one mother and child, touching the incredibly soft head of hair poking out of the blankets, and simply had no words. I prayed silently while I cried, until I could muster up some feeble English words aloud. The mother looked at me with a gratefulness I did not deserve. Her baby was 7 months old. I do not know if he had AIDS. I do not know if he was expected to live.

The second and third rooms also held almost a dozen children each. Many were gaunt. One little girl was so expressionless, I rubbed her back for about 10 minutes. I could feel her spinal cord, and her ribs through her shirt. Even the sticker I gave her hardly phased her. The stickers, however, did seem to be our ticket in with many of the other children. In spite of their conditions, or where they were, they rewarded us with huge smiles upon seeing sparkly stars and brightly colored animals placed on their hands, foreheads, and noses. One of the guys on our team played a game with one of the boys throughout our time there. This boy kept following us around, and eventually, his shoes were covered with stickers. The stickers became an outward symbol for us of the Holy Spirit. We couldn't stay for more than a few hours with these chilren. But we prayed His Presence over them, knowing He would linger much longer than time allowed us.

The fourth room was filled with both babies and small children. Some were sleeping in cribs, others were eating at a long table in the center of the room, others were walking around. This room was really no bigger than the others, but was even more populated. This was the room for children with disabilities. One young child had seizures in his sleep, which we witnessed. He also had some kind of tumor on his head. Three babies slept side-by-side in a crib. One kid moved around in a wheelchair. A little girl at the table remained a bit cranky and aloof throughout us being there, but did seem to enjoy playing with her three stickers. Another sweetheart walked around, happy to acquire stickers, go hide them somewhere, and then come back for more. There were not nearly as many parents or attendants in this room. A few of the medical staff were clustered in the corner, seemingly on break, but these kids did not have the adult support with them that those in the other rooms had.

All we could do was pray. For as long as we were at this hospital, we prayed. Over children, their mothers, their health, the filthy conditions of the hospital. But most of the time, when I looked up and around, I saw more than half of my teammates bent over a bed, heads bowed. It was all we had to offer.

Undombi had more. She was the woman who took us through the wing, the pastor of a local, thriving church. She spoke their language, and she shared with them in powerful ways. In each room we entered, she told the children and their parents a Bible story, preached, and prayed over them. She does it every week. Some of these children are dying. Some of them will live. But every week, Undombi visits the children and brings them a message of hope. The LORD has moved her to fight for LIFE in this place where Satan would spread death, and she is fighting in the LORD's strength.

Oh, that we would be moved to really see the peril and tragedy in our world! Sick and dying children in Africa -- they need so much prayer. But even in our own country... Satan's tools are different, but his object is the same. He is using materialism and apathy to kill us slowly. To steal our joy, to destroy our spirits. When will we open our eyes and fight for life for our brothers with a passion like Undombi for these children? Oh, that we would even be moved to pray...

The enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy. But I have come that you may have LIFE... John 10:10



At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reminder....I am praying for the children of Africa. Thank you for your following of the Holy Spirit on your life. Love and God Bless. Amen.

At 11:50 AM, Blogger Barbara Ann said...

Oh, my heart moves...People have to know about Christ. Prayer is so important. God has been teaching me more lately how to pray. How to stand in the gap of other believers between the evil one and them, to truely intercede. So many times I take for granted the power of prayer, taking it lightly at times. But how can I take it so lightly?? I have seen God move mightly through prayer, and felt His presence in prayer. It connects me so tightly to His heart. And sometimes it may take three years for God to answer, but in the meantime He teaches me so much through interceding on behalf of someone else.

Even when we were in Peru last year begging and asking God for a plaza in Trujillo. We cried out to God to give it to us. We couldnt just go in take it from the enemy, we had to ask for it. Our hearts were so tightly bonded together as we were there on our faces before the Lord. God did grant us that Plaza and the guard that we talked to about coming in there finally Believed in God! Prayer. Prayer works. It moves. It is the foundation for anything that we will ever do!

Thanks Lauren for sharing that today. I cant wait to see you and hear more about how God moved in Swaziland.

brought to my knees...

Barbara Ann

At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lauren -- a beautiful expression of love today. Let us all reach to those who need us, even in our own midsts.

At 5:22 PM, Blogger ericdavid said...

...if only our people would pray...

thats inspiring.

I cannot wait to see you in Dallas!

Eyes on Jesus,


At 4:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Blog family,

I bring some other brothers and sisters to you who need your prayer support.

Last Sunday at church, I sat by my Zambian friend Josephine on her last day in the States. She had been taking seminary classes this past year and was leaving the next day. Several extended family members had died during her time away. Her fiance had been severely beaten and robbed, and her father, who had been in the hospital for an extended stay, had recently been released. Josephine was concerned about his being allowed to go back to the village since it sounded like he still had some infection. Josephine's original tickets were going to make her have a 24-hour layover in London's Heathrow Airport. However, we were able to call British Airways and make a change that would get her home a day earlier than scheduled. The hand of God was in that. When Josephine arrived her father had worsened and had been taken back to the hospital. Doctors said there was nothing that could be done, and on Thursday (the day Josephine was originally scheduled to arrive) her father passed away. Please pray for her as she deals with all of the emotions that accompany this loss while adjusting to the return to her home country.

Last Sunday during the worship service at church a couple from my Sunday school class sat behind Josephine and me with their college-age son Andrew. Andrew is a student at IWU (Lauren's university). He had just returned from a missions trip to Australia with other IWU students. In the brief conversation I had with him Sunday, Andrew was expressing thanks for God's hand at work throughout their trip.

Today I received tragic news that Andrew was involved in a car/train accident. He was rushed to the trauma unit of the University of Kentucky Hospital where he died around 2:30 this afternoon. Please pray for his parents Phil and Peggy and other family members.

The church I have been attending is very small, so this week's two deaths connected with people in the church hit everyone very hard.

I know that these families would appreciate your prayers.

Wilmore, KY

At 9:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Lauren for sharing your experience. Many times after reading the posting from your family I am speachless.

At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We just wanted to tell you that you all are in our thoughts and prayers. We are sad to see you guys go for selfish reasons, but we know you are following God's lead. You have been an inspiration to us not only as christians but also as husband and wife and parents. We love you guys and miss you greatly.
Thank you for being a part of our wedding and blessing our marraige. It meant a lot to us that you were there. You did a fantastic job. We will send you a picture of all of us once we get the originals back from our photographer.
-Laura and Johnny

At 6:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have Deanna and Lauren arrived safely?

At 11:27 PM, Blogger Rhett said...

Hi my name is Rhett Marley. I came to this site because I read the testamony on the MercyMe Coming Up To Breathe CD. I heard the song dedicated to BJ,I would die for you, and my heart just sank. It touched me in a very special way. I work for a company called Video Perfection and I deal with a lot of video editing. God has laid on my heart to make a video dealing with missons. I am here to ask for your permission to have BJ as the main focus on this video. This isn't some huge thing that the whole world will see but I can show it to local churches in my area. If you are willing to help me out will you please email numerous pictures of his life. At home, on missons... even in the hospital if possible. I want people to see the meaning of being a diehard Christian. A Christian that can't help but share the name of Jesus Christ. A Christian that would die for Him. Please give this some thought and let me know next time you get the chance. Thank you very much! - Rhett Marley

At 2:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Brent

Did the Inca kola arrive yet?



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