Sunday, March 10, 2013

Imagine No Malaria: Lenten Devotion Day 26: March 10


Sunday, March 10, 2012: An Empty Bed 

Luke 15:31-32 Then the father said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.'" 

I had the opportunity to travel to Sierra Leone to witness the work of The United Methodist Church in the elimination of malaria. While there, we traveled to Bo, the second-largest city and home to Mercy Hospital – part of the United Methodist network of health-care facilities in Sierra Leone. We were graciously welcomed and guided through a tour of the hospital by a doctor. 

While viewing the children’s ward, I asked the doctor how many patients were being treated for malaria. He replied that of the five beds (all filled), three of the patients were suffering from malaria. He pointed to two beds that held infants, carefully watched over by their mothers who eyed us with interest. The doctor assured me that those two were recovering well, and that they would be expected to go home shortly. 

Then the doctor pointed to a third bed, where all I could see were rumpled sheets and no patient. The doctor explained, “That child was brought to us in a coma, suffering from a severe case of cerebral malaria.” The family, it seemed, had waited too long to bring him to the hospital, whether for fear of not being able to pay or in hopes that it might be something other than malaria – something that would pass without the cost and inconvenience of a hospital stay. 

I turned to the doctor and asked a question to which I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to hear the answer – a question that sent a shiver of fear through my mind: “Where is the patient now?” 

The doctor replied, “We were able to treat the malaria, and nurse him back to health. He is already outside in the courtyard, playing with the other children.” 

Thanks be to God for the wonderful work of the doctors and nurses of The United Methodist Church in Africa who work tirelessly every day to save the lives of little children suffering from a preventable disease. Every 60 seconds, a child dies from malaria somewhere in Africa. But on that day, in that hospital, a child lived. 

Prayer: Lord, we can still see miracles performed by your hands, if only we look. Allow us to be your hands and feet here on Earth each day so that the miracle of the elimination of malaria may occur. Every life that is saved is a reason to celebrate. Praise be to you, o God. Amen. 

Margo Jacobs, Michigan 

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