We were told there was a woman inside who was possibly demon possessed. Now, don't get me wrong. I do believe the Bible teaches that people can, in fact, be possessed. But as an evangelical Christian, reformed theologically, who does not believe every sickness, lost wallet or bad day needs rebuking and binding, I was guarded and a tad nervous at the same time.
What greeted us as we entered the small hut was a woman about 30 years old, bound by her hands and feet and almost non-responsive.
When we sat her up and interviewed her caregiver, we discovered she has struggled with weeks of stomach issues, has a high fever, rapid pulse and heart rate, no appetite and pupils that were not responding to light.
Our medical missionary, Brianna, was at a loss. We prayed for this young woman while holding her hand and surmised pretty quickly that she was not possessed . But she was extremely ill. Possibly dying. And something was going on with her brain. Was it swelling? Parasites? Infection? Encephalitis?
Only a CT scan could tell us what was going on here and getting this woman, who does not bear her own weight on her legs anymore, out of the hut and into our car was a Herculean effort undertaken by our Administrator, Andrew, and one of our construction workers. When we finally got her into the vehicle, she had to be sedated by our missionary with an injectable sedative because she became so agitated and combative. Her weary caregiver, a close relative, was covered with bruises and exhausted by the previous weeks' care for this woman. Our hearts went out to her.
The CT scan revealed some anomalies with the brain and we informed the family this young woman would need to be admitted to the hospital for an in depth blood chemistry.
As Brianna consulted with physicians abroad, sending every test result and every observable symptom to them by text, we could see this family pulling away from us.
When questioned about their willingness to let us admit this young woman, and assurances from us that her bills would not fall to them, they continued to hesitate.
They confessed to us that this woman has an intense fear of hospitals and would not likely go freely. We offered to sedate and stay with her, to hold her and restrain her if needed.
Yes, you read that correctly. The family refused additional treatment and took this gravely ill woman back to their hut - with no electricity, no running water and no cell phone.
And there she remains.
We have no authority in this situation. We have told the family that she may not live. Or she may not recover or improve at all. She may stay "like this" for the rest of her life, requiring around-the-clock care from an already over-taxed family.
And so, this blog post does not end with a "rescue", a "salvation" or a success story. It ends with despair and confusion. It ends with a reminder that we are not everyone's great, white hope.
We are just people. With limited influence, a limited budget and finite powers.
Just people. Not heroes.
Just people. Not healers.
We lean on the ever-present, endless reserves of our Heavenly Father. He can. If He wills.
And if not, He is still good.
THIS, my friends, is the hardest part of ministry. Not the fund raising or the late nights or the discipline problems of the children in our care.
The clear understanding that we can not help everyone all the time. Sometimes they won't let us. Sometimes they don't want us to.
Please pray for this young woman, and pray for her family and her main caregiver. We ask the Lord to breathe LIFE into that family - body and spirit. We pray that our caring touch of their daughter showed them something of the love of Jesus. Prayer is more powerful than "doing".
For that, we are grateful.
Pray for Brianna, our missionary, and her reckoning with "we can't save them all". If there is any demon in this ministry, that is Him. The accuser. The one that tries our souls with the reminder that "this one got away". Or "that one ran away". Or "you can do so little and the problems are so big."
He is a liar.