Our chaplain led us down the dirt road to the humble homestead of our neighbor. During our first visit, we came with pastors from across the world to pray for the old man. Lying on a thin mattress on the floor of his home, he was covered in layers of wool blankets hiding his catheter and frail body. Unable to move, a visiting pastor knelt beside him and shared the words of the 23rd Psalm.
We returned to see the man a few weeks later. His wife explained that he was getting worse and that they had thought they lost him the night before. He was still lying on the thin mattress, covered in blankets, unable to move. There wasn’t much more medically we could do for him. He didn’t want to be admitted anywhere, he just wanted to be home. Our chaplain then turned to me and asked if I could share a few words. Immediately the words, “God with us” came to my mind. I began to share with the old man and the others in the room of the day Jesus was born and was named, Immanuel, God with us. In that moment, lying on the floor, with nothing else to offer the man, all I could encourage him was that God was with him in this second, in this place, in his suffering and pain, in his final moments, in his heart and mind, in the mud walls on the thin mattress. God was with him – ready to bring him home. My prayer was that, in the final moments of his life, he would experience the intimacy of God with him.
He passed away a few days later. I have no idea what he felt in the days, hours, minutes, and seconds before he died. What I know was that God was so near to him then, and that they are now together in heaven.
When we ponder the ways that Hope Matters has grown over the last year, we can truly say that God has been with us. We’ve seen God’s hand on the many patients we have treated including Alex, Jescah, and Baby Caleb. From the hospital walls being built and the tiles laid, to the rose bushes being planted at the entrance to the prayer garden. From treating hundreds of people in unreached communities, to helping a mother understand her child’s down syndrome diagnosis. From the communication towers being put up at our clinics as our receptionist learns our online patient management system, to breaking the news to patients that they have cancer. From the water pump being repaired after hauling water for days, to doubling our staff in a matter of months. This last year held a full spectrum of life experiences and healthcare encounters. We watched small babies show up for their newborn check-ups, and we received massive traumas on our front steps. From watching the sun beam through the leaves outside our clinic, to entering the homes of our neighbors who are on their death beds, God has truly been with us.
As we enter 2020, we know that God is still with us. And while we prepare to open our hospital, double our staff, increase in capacity and care, and so much more, we know, without a doubt, that God is indeed with us.
– By Nikole Opiyo, Hope Matters Missionary