Friday, February 13, 2015

I Know Where I Am ... But Where Are We Going?

Dr. Muballe ... orthopedic surgeon
I don't really know how I looked to him.  I'm pretty sure my face was in a slack jawed kind of stunned, confused, deer caught in the headlights kind of look.  So I did what I usually do in that kind of frozen moment.  I asked, "I'm sorry.  What did you say?"

"I'd like to come to Jinja and take a look at some of your kids."

Dr. Muballe is arguably the best orthopedic surgeon in Uganda and could easily compete for best in East Africa. I've been fortunate to work with him on about a half dozen surgeries now.  He is also a great teacher. He often drags out a pen and paper and begins to write or diagram his medical wisdom as he explains how things work.

I know that it was bone issues that got me here with Dr. Muballe.  But, I've been wondering ... where are we going?

I will speculate with my answer to that question, but first let me share with you how our first Saturday in Jinja went for us.

Happy patient Esther
The explanation for my stunned expression when the doctor told me ... out of the blue ... that he wanted to come to Jinja on a Saturday and see some of "your kids," was because in all my 10 years of work here in Uganda, such an offer has never come from a national.  Yes, we have medical personnel who spend lots of money to travel from America to come here for a two week medical mission.  And, they bring financial resources for needed surgeries after they leave.  But this was the very first offer that a national doctor had ever made to me.

With only one week's notice, Dr. Muballe examined, diagnosed, and recommended treatment for many children. In just four hours, the doctor saw a severe heart issue, several sickle cell anemia, asthma, Downs Syndrome, cerebral palsy, varicose veins, and simple hygiene issues within the children. Parents and guardians came with drawn faces, full of stress, and little hope.  But, they left with hope and smiles.

Esther's mother Sarah
The last patient doctor saw was brought to him by some of the Next Generation Ministries associates.  What started out as a diagnosis of typhoid ended up with a serious wound on the bum of Sarah's 17 year daughter, Esther.  Taken to a small clinic in Bugembe, Esther was given an injection in her hip as treatment.  The problem however was that the injection was given in the wrong place.  And the needle could have been contaminated as well.  Esther had spent five days in another clinic before she was brought to Dr. Muballe.  By that time she had a serious wound that was severly painful and infected and she was having trouble walking.  Esther was transferred to a different clinic by NGM and put under the care of physicians we trust.  Within 24 hours Esther was home, improving, and today she is fully recovered.

However, during the examination of Esther by Dr. Muballe, her mother, Sarah had to leave the room with tears in her eyes.  Not only did she have deep concern for her daughter's health, but she is a single mother who is caring for her three biological daughters AND four other children.  She had no idea how she would clear the bill at the second clinic and the clinic to which NGM took Esther.  The smile in the photo above tells the story of relief and gratitude as, not only was her daughter treated properly, but all bills were cleared.  And, she took home rice and beans to feed her children.

Max ... another patient scheduled for surgery
Where is all this going?  I think the answer to that is the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The gospel of the Kingdom of God will take us to so many places we never intended to go, but which explains our presence when we get there.

The Gospel changes what a person believes, who a person is, and what a person does.  God's purpose in His deposit of the Gospel in broken, but growing people was to transfer it to others who need those kind of changes.  It invades business, education, health care, public policy, law ... anywhere there are people.  It must be taken by followers of Christ to individuals, families, neighborhoods, communities, and nations.  And, when it is carried to these venues, by followers of Christ, as God intended it to, it is very attractive.

When people in a third world nation, that is plagued with poverty, have a medical issue there is so much pressure that comes with it.  Struggling to feed their children and get school fees paid, a medical issue brings a financial crisis.  Additionally, the standard of health care in Uganda is not at an international level.  When Next Generation Ministries is able to come alongside to help, it relieves the pressure, looks for quality health care, and graphically manifests the character of the Gospel as the heart of the Father is on display.

That is always were we are going.  Our lives are not simply wrapped up in the circumstances of life. Life is MUCH BIGGER than that!  We may find ourselves in a doctor's office or a waiting room outside the operating room, just waiting to hear what kind of news will come from those places.  But, I for one, believe that I am in those places to declare the grace and mercy of God's Son, Jesus Christ. That is where I will always be going.  Because I have been tested.  And, I am Jesus positive. And, He is contagious.  Everywhere I end up should carry the potential of others getting infected!


  1. Everything about this... I love it!!

  2. Paul, I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog. It is so good to here all that God is doing through NGM in Uganda. I Love this whole story, but the last paragraph really jumped out to me. It is important to remember that life and especially God is much bigger than our circumstances. And that everywhere we go we should be 'infecting' others with Christ.


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