In Nasir we were spoiled to have a Doctors Without Borders hospital a short distance away. Although there was only one occasion when one of us needed treatment, we felt blessed to have access to good medical care in such a remote place.
The town where we are currently staying in Ethiopia is another story. While in many ways it is significantly more developed than Nasir, the choices for medical care are limited.
The local clinics, staffed by persons with basic medical training, take the shotgun approach. It seems that everyone who walks in with a fever has malaria, typhoid, and anemia. People walk out with bags of malaria medicine, antibiotics, iron supplements, and pain pills with little to no instruction on how to administer them. The Nuer name for these places, Duel Waal or “House of Drugs,” seems appropriate. It’s not surprising that drug resistance is rampant.
The local hospital is slightly better. You may get to see a doctor, and there’s less chance of being given a false positive for malaria or typhoid. But you have to make sure to bring your own food, water, sheets, and a friend to follow your paperwork through the convoluted, overworked bureaucratic system.
Faced with limited options for physical remedies, the spiritual route becomes more appealing. But there are only two choices: the power of God through Jesus Christ or the power of Satan through the witchdoctors (which is out of the scope of this post).
The Bible is filled with stories of healing and instructions to the church to pray for the sick. With so many of our friends suffering from various illnesses (most of which are not malaria, typhoid, or anemia), we are committed to lifting them up in prayer, believing that God’s healing power is the best option.
I can’t say that I understand how God heals. It seems like sometimes it’s flat out miraculous while other times he uses the natural systems he designed to bring it about. So far I haven’t seen anything “radical,” like the lame walking or the blind receiving sight, but then again, maybe I have been too afraid to pray these kinds of prayers.
I do believe that it’s God’s heart to heal and restore, and it’s my hope that those around us would experience physical healing as well as the equally awesome power of God’s love and forgiveness.