Friday, August 24, 2012

New Ministry

Women In Crisis

I have a memory I wish never happened and one that I hope I never forget.

Lyzette Kasigwa is comforted by Paul Hunter and Pam Hunter
Lyzette ... a woman in crisis ... Paul singing
Draw Me Close To You in her ear as he holds her
The call came in the middle of the night.  Travel from our compound in Uganda is risky without a vehicle and ours "sleeps" at Sera's Caring Place for logistical reasons.  The tone of Jeff's voice seemed to reach beyond concern.  He had brought his wife, Lyzette, home from the hospital after five days of no medical attention while she was seriously bleeding in her 7th month of pregnancy.  The bleeding continued and he was sure
that it was not in her best interest to remain at home.  I encouraged him to take her to a private clinic we trust more than most of the medical facilities in Jinja.  He was able to borrow a car from a neighboring pastor and instead took her to the Jinja Main Hospital ... a public institution ... and one that would be much less expensive than a privately owned one.

Jeff & Lyzette Kasigwa
The second call came before dawn and the "beyond concern" had been passed by desperation.  I threw on some street clothes and went to the hospital as soon as possible.  I became immediately aware that both Lyzette and her baby were in grave danger.  Jeff feared losing both of them.  A doctor had decided that the baby needed to be taken by Cesarean, but none of the medical personnel were taking any action.  They were obviously more interested in asking for money.

Forget most everything you know about hospitals in the West.  What is provided in this hospital are beds and mattress.  Your bed would be with 60 other beds and mattresses ... linens are NOT included.  You or your support people bring ever thing you may possibly need to the hospital.  Bed clothes. Food and beverages.  Bathing and toiletry needs.  Your support people, friends or family, will work to meet your every need and sleep on a grass mat on the floor should you need 24 hour care.  Should the medical staff need anything to attend to your needs, you and your support people must provide it.  They will find it somewhere ... either in the hospital pharmacy or a pharmacy in town.

Love & sympathy from Oklahoma Team ..
support during the crisis
But, where do you go for these things when night is your cover and daylight has not yet over taken it?  A young husband frantically runs everywhere he can think of attempting to meet the next demand made of him for surgery on his bleeding and dying wife.  Through every delay, as demands for money continue, he assures these people, lacking any kind of noticeable compassion, that "the money is there!"  I join him and begin to argue, plead, beg, demand, and do whatever I can to motivate these unbelievable people to start working to save the lives of Lyzette and her baby.

I call Pam and Peter to tell them we need prayer.  Peter picks up the Next Generation Ministries' vehicle at Sera's house and comes with her to the hospital before leaving to take her boys to school.  A short term mission team NGM is hosting, from Fairview, Oklahoma, is leaving for the airport later in the morning.  We need everyone depending on God for His mercy and grace.

Baby Hunter ready for burial ... beginning of a crisis
Through no small miracle, Jeff is able to find blood for Lyzette because a friend is working in the dispensary that early morning.  The nurse attending the surgeon starts abusing (speaking badly) to Jeff and me, blaming us now for the pressure they feel to save lives.  Soon we hear that the baby is delivered and alive.  His name is Hunter and he is moved to a small room for newborns.  The grandmother, a retired nurse, who raised Jeff, arrives at the hospital and accompanies Jeff into that room.  As we all anticipate Lyzette recovering from her unconscious sedation, Sera and I wait outside the room of premature Hunter.  He survives for about 90 minutes before passing into eternity.

Lyzette and her first born, Dave
Lyzette is removed from the surgery and recovery building and put in Ward 7 among 50 to 60 other mothers who have recently delivered babies.  She is still out of it, but we are not.  Jeff and Lyzette's pastor arrives and a decision is made to organize a burial for the baby at 11 AM. The mission team from the States delays their schedule and decides to be there for Jeff at the short, outdoor service on the family's property. Jeff is dazed ... he and his wife have lost a baby that is their third son ... but, God has spared his wife.  He works to survive  having a heart that rejoices and grieves at the same time.

Jeff & Lyzette with second born, Levi
Lyzette attempts to return to the world of conscious existence, but the anesthesia only lets her hear the blended sounds of mothers and babies in Ward 7 before a full recovery.  She begins to cry out for her baby, "My baby.  Bring me my baby."  During her restlessness Hunter is being laid to rest across the River Nile.  The coming awareness that her baby is not alive would release a flow of tears that would continue for many, many weeks.  She recovers from her surgery, but continues riding the emotional roller coaster that comes with the sights and sounds of mothers and babies together. Fortunately, Lyzette has family and many friends who love and care for her in her time of crisis and she finds them coming with hugs, kisses, prayers, songs, and words of comfort and encouragement.  They also bring food to eat and juice and water to drink.  She survives the ordeal in the maternity ward and returns home.  The sounds of the mothers and babies cease, but the tears do not.  Yes, God is good and God is real, but so is the pain.

Director of Women In Crisis
Head up, decisive, full of God and ready to help
One of the things we do for short term missionaries is invite Africans to come to our compound for dinner and sharing in the evenings. Jeff and Lyzette are two of the people we want to see connect with these people from the West.  As God would have it, our last team to come at the end of our tour, was another team from Fairview, Oklahoma.  This was a medical team.  As Lyzette began to prepare to share her life with these people she asked God to dry her tears and please keep her from returning to the horror of dark days of March.

But, as God would have it, He knew that talking about this challenging time in her life would not only be emotionally therapeutic, but would open a door for continued healing, restoration, and guidance for a new ministry to women in crisis.  Lyzette began to describe the torment she went through as a pregnant patient, a surgery patient, and a mother who lost a child ... to a medical team who brought an amazing amount of compassion to the dozens of sick people they attended to in Uganda.

Melissa and Pat
The following day, Pat, one of the team's leaders, knew that God was answering her prayer regarding a book and money a woman back in Oklahoma had sent with her for "someone." Melissa lost her son, Nick, to death on Christmas Day of last year and had a desire for her gifts to benefit someone in Uganda.  The book was titled Heaven Is For Real.  Melissa and Nick had read the book together several times before his death.  Pat was sure that these gifts must have been intended for Lyzette and was delighted to be their delivery person.  God used Pat to connect these two women.  Although Lyzette and Melissa live 10,000 miles from each other, they passed through the crisis of losing a child and are now working to help other women who go through a crisis.

Before the Oklahoma Team left they gave Lyzette enough money to fund her new ministry, called Women In Crisis, for one complete year.  These resources would allow her to visit Jinja Main Hospital every week, purchase food and medical needs, help with transportation, and burial costs.

As director of Next Generation Ministry I wrote a letter of introduction for Lyzette and a reference letter for Women in Crisis.  She took these letters to the director of Jinja Main Hospital.  She is now an approved and credentialed worker for the women of Ward 7 and Ward 8.  God has blessed her in the early days of her ministry.  Her priority is the women who have lost a baby.  Because of culture, some of these women are abandoned or neglected even by their husbands as though the mothers bear responsibility for the death of their child.  Sometimes Lyzette will be the only source of care, concern, love and encouragement for some of these hurting ladies.

Nerima and her husband ... full of despair
One of the first ladies Lyzette ministered to was a Muslim lady name Nerima.  Her husband stood by her when she lost her baby, but they have 5 children back in the village.  There was no food for them and there was no money to send those children to school.  In addition to losing the baby, Nermia's bladder was in bad shape after attempting to give birth to baby in the village. She had no control over the bladder and no money for a catheter.  The husband had literally been on his knees begging the nurse to do something. Because there was no money treatment was refused.  Lyzette listened to the argument and later spoke with the nurse.  She arranged for a catheter and then bought medication and asked someone to purchase food for her. The husband knelt again before Lyzette, but she explained that it was because of Jesus that this was happening for them.  Nerima may be at the hospital for more than two weeks and may even require surgery.  She has since given her life to Christ at a subsequent visit by Lyzette.

If you would like to be a part of this new work, please see if you can come to Uganda and work with Lyzette.  If you are unable to travel, would you consider praying and financially supporting her work?  You can send a check of any amount to Next Generation Ministries, 29940 South Dhooghe Road, Colton, OR 97017.  Include a note designating it for Lyzette or Women In Crisis.

You can learn more about Lyzettte on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lyzette.kasigwa
and more about Women In Crisis at http://www.facebook.com/groups/452417428112396/