In the last blog we began to hear about the Jubilee Health Centre in Cape Town and to see how the ministry holds prayer and team relationships central to their activities. Caryn continues to tell us about a day in the life of the Centre.
“You may feel somewhat overwhelmed at this point. But relax; the chaos is ordered. You’ll notice team members interspersed among the waiting patients, chatting and maybe helping them fill in a form. Someone is making tea. Two consulting rooms are filled with a nurse or student, and volunteer and patient, with possibly a relative in tow. On entering, beaming children run straight to the toy boxes, playing with what they find (the problem is not getting them into these rooms, but rather getting them out!). The counseling room is already occupied with a “do not disturb” sign on the door. The doctor oscillates between consulting rooms, giving treatment advice, making diagnoses, praying… We have learned the synergistic value of working in team, each patient/client being given time and space to talk, to ask questions, being served professionally and in prayer. God meets each one, tenderly reaching out to touch them as we watch and marvel at the privilege of partnering with Him in this work.
A pregnant Zimbabwean lady weeps as she tells the midwife of how her husband deserted her, and she fled her native country to find work to support herself, her unborn child, and perhaps have enough to send back to her ageing parents and little girl in their care. ‘I need God to help me. I’m frightened. Please pray for me’ she asks. Her shoulders lift as she stands up to go. She knows she is not alone and will return again soon.
A local elderly gentleman, having visited us intermittently for a year for “minor” ailments, now invites us for the first time to treat his out-of-control hypertension and diabetes because ‘I know you care for me’, he says. He is ready to trust, having experienced the love of God. The counselor calls on the midwife, and then the doctor, to help with a teenager, brought in by a family friend (a caring church member), who has decided to keep her unborn baby. Her face no longer shadowed by shame, this young woman smiles as she leaves with her mother. Another pregnant refugee arrives for her first antenatal visit. Last month she came for pre-abortion counseling for an unwanted pregnancy…
The spiritual dimension
The medical student asks, ‘Why don’t we see people being healed immediately, in front of our eyes?’ We chat about healing and miracles, share testimonies and stir faith. She watches as God visibly touches her next patient, who begins to weep in His embrace. I pray that she will also see the miracles she longs for, that we have tasted but want to see increase. A believer from a nearby informal settlement has come for contraception today. She asks for an HIV test. Her husband doesn’t share her faith or fidelity. We encourage her in her walk of faith and celebrate together the memories of God’s hand in her life (with resultant stories of redemption and reconciliation in her family and beyond). She is a woman set free from much demonic oppression, miraculously healed of a chronic illness (at a previous visit) and a leader in her community. Tears of relief squeeze from her eyes and ours at the result of the test. The consultation ends in hugs.
Meanwhile, outside a Congolese family huddles, their small son visibly dehydrated from gastroenteritis. A nurse has already mixed rehydration fluid, which he sips. Our French-speaking friend has drawn alongside, comforting the parents in a familiar language, becoming their advocate, calling the doctor to treat both parents who are also sick and facilitating dialogue to allay their fears. They stay a couple of hours until their son is clearly out of danger, leaving with a referral letter in hand for the children’s hospital, should they need it later.
Lunch comes and goes, a bit late. The day draws to a close. Debriefing begins. Our counselor tells of a call to a pre-abortion client who told her that at JHC she was reminded who God is, and so decided to keep her baby, despite the circumstances. ‘Something huge, something big, is happening here’, she says, as she describes her wonder at babies being saved and mothers being grateful. Our visiting nurse is clearly moved by her experience today, saying she has gained a new perspective on life. When asked what she has learned today, the medical student replies, ‘…to love my patients.’”
In the concluding part of this report Caryn will share some of the defining characteristics of the ministry and lessons learned.