Midwife in the Pacific
12 Feb 2018
This is a picture of baby Alim, not long after I first met him two years ago. Alim was only 6 weeks old and was severely malnourished and dehydrated. He couldn’t suck and swallow properly because of his extensive cleft lip and palate. If we didn’t intervene he would have only had days to live. His mother was extremely fearful and ostracised because of Alim’s birth defect.
We spent the next two years walking the journey with this family to see not only Alim receive medical care, but also for his family to receive spiritual care. Now Alim is an active and healthy two-year-old and we’re pretty confident his mother believes in Jesus!
I live with my family in a coastal province on a large island in the Pacific Ocean. It might sound like paradise, but in truth the spiritual state of this province is very dark, and people’s lives are often sad. Society here is split 50/50 between two major ethnic groups;
- The indigenous people who are nominal believers. They have heard the gospel, but they often hold onto the animistic beliefs of their ancestors, concerned about the spirits all around them.
- Immigrants from other nearby islands of a very different religion. Alim’s family is from this immigrant community.
The physical health of pregnant women, and mums with new babies, in this province is very neglected. There are local health services in the towns and city, but these are primarily staffed by health professionals from the immigrant community. The local indigenous people are distrustful and fearful of these services, and therefore don’t tend to seek care. It is even worse in the rural areas where there are very limited services. Most women in the rural locations never once get checked by a medical professional during their pregnancy or birth.
Jesus healed people for two reasons – so that people would know who He is and therefore believe in him, and because He had compassion on people. I am passionate about being involved in medical missions because God has gifted me with skills and abilities to bring healing to women and their families, but also because I want them to know Jesus. It is a dual focused ministry, the healing of their bodies and healing of their souls. The two go hand in hand.
Let me introduce you to a second family, this one is from the indigenous community. I arrived at the home of this family to find the mother holding her baby who had sadly already died. This was her second baby to be born prematurely and not survive. This mother received no healthcare during her pregnancy, during labour and birth, or after the baby was born. Neither was there care for the new baby, who would have survived if she was cared for by a skilled birth attendant. I am working hard to see women not suffer like this lady and her husband have suffered. We ministered to her spiritually, but it was too late to give any medical care with this baby.
Every follower of Jesus has a life-giving message to share. But for those of us with medical training, be it nurses, doctors, therapists, dentists etc. we have a unique opportunity to work amongst people isolated from essential healthcare and become involved in the dual ministry that Ruth has shared about: healing bodies and healing souls. If you would like to find out more about opportunities with Pioneers in Medical Missions click here to connect with one of our team.