travel bursary reports
Niger is a country with immense need in almost every area of life: economic, medical, educational and not least spiritual need. This year I have had the privilege of serving the Lord through serving the people of Galmi (in the Tahoua region of Niger) with my wife, Emily. My working life revolved largely around the Paediatric department of the hospital. However, given that approximately one quarter of the population is adolescents, in order to create a manageable workload, paediatrics was defined as under fives. This meant running a clinic in the outpatient department, where we saw between 30-75 children per half day session (with other people helping when it got busy!). From there, I would admit any patients that needed inpatient care and be responsible for their care whilst they were in the hospital. On top of this, I covered on calls overnight and at weekends for the adult and paediatric medical department.
Whilst I enjoyed aspects of the medicine, the highlight for me was in non-medical work that I was able to do with Tanko, my close friend and translator, and my wife Emily. In clinic, we were able to share something of the gospel with every single patient, using the Jesus film which was shown in the waiting rooms (Luke’s gospel dubbed in Hausa acted out) as a foil for questioning. This ranged from a short story from a gospel to real opportunities for counter-cultural care for children with chronic disabilities and brain damage – sadly all too common as a result of traumatic births. In total, we estimate that over 2500 mothers heard the gospel through this ministry.
Outside of clinical time, we provided teaching for the nursing staff about good quality, holistic patient care, both medical and spiritual – I provided the medical knowledge, Emily the French – ran Sunday Bible studies for the youth at Church, training for the Sunday School teachers and undertook regular evangelistic visits to bush families and welcomed the many visitors (mainly children) who came to our house.
We also had some patients who really tugged at our heartstrings, for example Lawale (name changed) who came into the hospital suffering from a horrific allergic reaction to medicine given by a well-meaning but ill-advised local physician. He very nearly died, but the whole team pulled together to provide such compassionate care to both him and his widowed mother, that he survived, albeit permanently blinded by the ordeal. Their return trips for follow-up were non-existent because they could not afford the (£2) taxi fare to the hospital, but eventually we tracked them down and paid their costs. In partnership with a close friend and missionary colleague, we shared the gospel at length with Lawale and his mother, and prayed with them. His mother whispered “Messiah” as we were praying and told us that she had started praying to Jesus, although we pray that in her ill-educated, poverty-stricken state, she will wholeheartedly put her life in His hands.
We also met a man who Jesus had met in a dream and was able to recount from the dream things that we could show him came directly from the Bible. And my last ever patient, Hassana (name changed), by the grace of God, shared that she was ready to take a step of faith and accept Jesus as her personal Saviour, for which I give God great praise that He would allow me to leave Niger on that note.
Personally, I give God great thanks and praise that He sustained me through this time. It was a struggle, emotionally, spiritually and physically, but I have no regrets and have grown hugely through the year in my love for Christ as I have lived in a land where his influence is not really known in any way, shape or form. I am so grateful to return to a culture influenced by his love and grace (although admittedly decreasingly so) and to know that love and forgiveness myself.
Read our reports from those we have supported through bursaries!