Some of you may remember a boy named Bawa from Mango. I wrote about him and his story in a previous blog post named "How Beautiful on the Mountains" (if you haven't read it, pause now to go look at it). In very brief summation, Bawa was a 22 year-old young man who had chronic type 1 diabetes that wasn't diagnosed until a fellow missionary brought him down from Mango to see me at the Southern Hospital, HBB. He was already blind due to his illness and was the size of a 10-12 year old. His mother, although uneducated, worked very hard to learn how to administer Insulin and take care of him the best she could. After a difficult battle, including a miraculous recovery from a diabetic come where we discovered Bawa at a local hospital unconscious and with a blood sugar of 20, Bawa passed away. It was difficult for all of us, but most of all for his family. It was the 7th time this mother would have to bury a child. Only one child remained.
Thankfully, the same faithful missionary who began helping Bawa, continued to visit his mother and grandmother in their small one room hut, sharing the gospel, meals, and providing encouragement whenever she could. I also made sure to visit this sweet family each time I visited Mango. Unfortunately, my visits were not frequent due to the distance. But during the first visit I had after Bawa's passing, I watched how is also blind grandmother sat in despair and had no likely hope for the improvement of her own physical life as well. She spent her time seated on the hut floor and relied on other to cook for her and even help her go to the bathroom. Blindness in the third-world setting is somewhat of a death sentence, or at least condemnation to a life of solitude and complete reliance on others.
As we sat and shared the gospel message with her one again and spoke of our memories of Bawa, I turned to ask my friend, "Has anyone ever prayed for her eyes to be healed?" Although I am a physician, I know nothing of the eyes. (ask my medical school friend Lana who went into Ophthalmology and she will confirm that I shrink away from anything eye related!!). I had to history to confirm the etiology of her blindness or whether it was curable from a medical stand-point. All I knew is that I knew The Healer and He might be willing to heal her as a gateway to showing her His amazing love and mercy, and to show her that He was and is the One true God. We told her what we were going to do and and I crawled over to her, placing my hands on her head and prayed for the Lord to heal her as a means to show Himself to her. I wasn't expecting her healing to be immediate or to take place through me. But I was praying with confidence that the Lord would work.
Later that month, my missionary friend told me that after our meeting and prayer time with Bawa's grandmother, she decided to take her to see an eye doctor to find out if she could be healed medically. The news was that although she was permanently blind in one eye, he felt that the other eye was repairable!! It turned out that she suffered both from cataracts along with an chronic infection called Trachoma, which causes an inflammation of the lid which in turn causes the lashes to scrape against the cornea, causing blindness. The doctor explained that he would perform some injections for the infection and after that had healed, he would remove her cataract. Although painful, the first intervention allowed to to distinguish between light and dark. I was able to visit her after she had completed this portion of care and I reminded her that although our friend and the doctor were vital in her healing, it was Christ alone who had worked to make this happen and he was worthy of our worship.
The day after leaving Togo I received an email from my friend in Mango that grandma had undergone the cataract removal operation and that she could see again. Below is an excerpt from that e-mail:
Just got back from visiting them. She has been taking her medicine as indicated and was chattering away when I first arrived. I had put my hand in front of her face to see if she could see it and she laughed and laughed at why I was doing that and started talking about the colors in my pagne and how my pagne colors were different from hers. She said she is now able to walk outside of the hut by herself to go use the bathroom and is starting to be able to see things. She said she can't clearly distinguish all of the features on people's faces, but she can tell when people are there and can tell if someone is black or white. She was a hoot this morning. They said to tell you hello and thank you for everything in Lome. I was asking her again about the trip down and back and she said she was served an enormous amount of patte, much to her delight. She and Bawa's mom say thank you for the trip and everything you did to get them back up here and for making sure they were not hungry. When I was leaving she grabbed my pagne again and gave one more run down of the colors, and then Bawa's mom was pointing to different objects to see if she could say what they were, like my keys, which she did. It was kind of surreal. I don't know if this description does it justice, but hopefully when you read this it can capture some of the joy of the moment and the freedom and independence she feels.I think our Father has the ability to heal instantly, and without our help. He created us from dust and is all-powerful to intervene on our behalves at all times. But I am amazed and when he allows us to be used in practical ways, in order to display the gospel message of love and restoration among those we love and care about. I have no doubt that the Lord will use this to draw this family to Himself, to show them His love and power, to show them that they are not forgotten.
It was such a sweet conclusion to my time in Togo and I can't wait to see Grandma face to face for the first time.
Grace and Peace
p.s. FYI- yes, I am now back in the US and will be writing soon about my transition and future plans. Please pray for my adjustment to US life and culture and for my plans while I'm here over the next 7 months. Don't hesitate to e-mail or call if you'd like to set up a time where we can visit one another as well!