The story of Lazarus is familiar to many, even if biblical literacy is not your trade. Lazarus was a close friend to Jesus and brother to Mary and Martha. Jesus was told that he was sick and to come quickly but he purposefully waited and said, "it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it." By the time Jesus did arrive, Lazarus had been dead four days. Everyone was in mourning and Jesus, seeing this, "was deeply moved in spirit and troubled."
Jesus then proceeded to call Lazarus forth and all watched in amazement as Lazarus rose from the dead.
The last blog post mentioned the loss of a couple of our children in our chemo program. Often, we only know a child had died because they stop showing up. Phone calls are attempted but often reach non-charged telephones or are somehow the phone number of someone in a nearby village who doesn't know the family well. This was the case for Jonathan. Jonathan had come to us extremely malnourished--the kind of malnourished you see on TV. He was hospitalized for over a month and didn't smile once. He had completed 4 rounds of chemo and his family was very faithful to keep appointments, until one day....he stopped coming. We called and called. Finally, we reached someone in the village who said, "oh yes, I know that family and their son died over the weekend." The news was a troubling blow. Although he had a complicated beginning, his cancer had responded well to treatment and is a cancer that comes with an 85% survival rate (even in the developing world!). As my previous post mentioned, he was among the cases that made me think twice of even continuing cancer care here in Togo.
The day after I posted the last blog, Jonathan and his parents walked into the clinic. There is no way I can describe the emotions I felt other than comparing it to those outside of Lazarus' tomb that day!
You. Were. Dead.
And now you're alive.
I realize that some of you are thinking, "but he was never dead, clearly". Clearly this is true. The political climate on the Ghana border were the family lived had become very tenuous which prevented them from crossing the border in Togo to get to our hospital. But from our perspective (and from the perspective of those mourning Lazarus), the outcome was already final, and only Jesus knew otherwise.
When we told his parents that we thought he was dead, and that someone in his village confirmed this, they threw their hands up and laughed and said, "well of course he's not dead, he helps me work in the fields!!" All we could do is laugh in joy alongside of them and praise our Lord that this was the case. Because just as in the plan of Lazarus, these things take place so that God's Son may be glorified through it. I likely would not have considered praising Jesus for Jonathan showing up at his routine visit for cycle 5 of chemo. But you better be sure I was praising Him now!!
Who can know the mind of the Lord? I may never understand the full extent of why Jonathan's story took the turn it did. Johnathan did finish chemo and is doing well. He has even smiled for us.
Another patient, a 21 year-old student named Lamboni has also completed his chemotherapy for a rhabdomyosarcoma. We celebrate deeply with these patients as they become like family to us during their long chemo courses. Even as I type, we have 2 new 21-year old students diagnosed with osteosarcomas (malignant cancer of the bone). Pray for them and their families as we provide them with their only opportunity for treatment.
Mounirou- 3 year old boy with a Wilms Tumor
Neimatou- 16 year old girl with osteosarcoma
Fatimata- 12 year old girl with leukemia
Djamilatou- 12 year old girl with liposarcoma