My good friend’s cousin died last week in Nigeria. He had been a car accident, had a head injury, and was taken to the hospital for treatment. After a week or so there he succumbed to his injuries and passed away.
His story will not be reported in any of the newspapers there, because if they did they would have to report every such incident, and soon there would be room for nothing else.
One graveside service here begins, “In the midst of life we are in death . . .” This is especially true for our African friends. I recall hearing a knock at our door around 8:30 one night only to meet a pastor there. He pleaded with me, would I take his wife and their two twin baby girls to the hospital, 7 km out of town? The road was rough and he only had a motorcycle, and was understandably worried that the trip would be too much for them.
It took no convincing at all for me to grab the truck, drive over to where they were staying, and trundle them all in. The missionary doctor was very angry at him. Not because he brought them to the hospital so late in the evening – but because he brought them to the hospital so late in their illness. Why had he not been there sooner?
Long story short – though both girls were very close to death, our mission doctor managed to save them both. I visited the family on my next trip a couple of years later to find one of the girls had died of yet another malady.
Stillbirths, vehicle accidents, unexplained illnesses, malaria, typhoid – the list goes on – all take their toll on these poor people. There are myriad reasons why in Nigeria the hospital system is so poor, and why the people do not access them as well as they might. Bottom line: people die when they could live. Spiritually this is also the case.
I thank God for the wonderful missionary doctors who served when I was in Nigeria, and we can all thank God for the great NAB medical missionaries serving in Cameroon: people like Rick and Debbie Bardin, Julie Stone, and Dennis and Nancy Palmer – not to mention the many who have gone before them. Physically they are saving lives every day, and spiritually they are helping to do the same – and creating an environment where the good news of Jesus Christ is given a hearty welcome because people there know all about the medical missionaries and they love what they bring.