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St. Gabriel's Hospital

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Easter Message

Over the past two months I have been the recipient of copious emails from our partners in Malawi, some of the communication has been of a personal nature. After all, the Malawian partners are my (and your) dear friends. Other emails have been business related, requests for receipts, proposals, data, etc. But there have been a quantity of communiques that make all of heaven rejoice. They represent the hope of the Easter message: life springing from the grave. The most recent partnership reports are snapshots of God's Kingdom advancing through God's Economy, and Somebody Cares, St. Gabriel's Hospital, and There is Hope. In order to better understand the significance of the reports, let me remind you of the context for each. Malawi is poor. There is no way to be discreet in my description. *The average worker earns less than $2.46 per day, and that is only if one is among the 53% of the population that is fortunate enough to find work. It is one of the world's most densely populated (over 15 million people) yet most undeveloped nations in the world. Malawi is a nation that has been adversely affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Each of our partners is engaged in the fight to eradicate the disease and ameliorate its effects on the communities in which he/she is invested. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the adult population of Malawi such that 45% of the country's population is now under the age of 14! Orphans abound. Malaria is out of control. Every 30 seconds an African child dies from complications due to malaria. Thousands of those children are Malawian. The tragedy is that the disease is preventable with some simple prevention techniques like sleeping under a bed net at night. Sadly, the cost of a bed net is too expensive for the rural and urban poor. Spiritual opposition is palpable. Our partners report being attacked by supernatural issues that can only be explained as an affront to the Gospel going out to reclaim the land, the lost, and the dying. Our friends in Malawi are well acquainted with death. They are exposed to the death of friends and relatives due to HIV. They are exposed to death of loved ones due to acute malaria illness. They are exposed to the spiritual death of their community members as local cults and witch doctors offer empty promises and remedies for life's and society's ailments. I am reminded of Jesus' words, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). The bad news of Malawi's data only reports one side of the cosmic story, the death, destruction, and the hopeless perspectives. These are items that belong in the grave. God's Economy's partnership with the friends in Malawi brings the other side of the report: the good news. Somebody Cares: What's the Buzz? Last year God's Economy through its What's the Buzz? malaria prevention outreach donated funds for a team of motivated Malawian youth leaders to become the What's the Buzz? champions throughout the entire SC network. These youth were sent for training at one of our partner organizations, the esteemed medical facility, Partners in Hope. There the youth were trained by medical professionals to: recognize the symptoms of malaria; know how to teach villagers on the proper use of bed-nets; install the nets; and then return to the villages and monitor the homes making sure that the nets were being used correctly. Just last week a report and photos arrived from Malawi.
Proudly wearing their What's the Buzz? tee-shirts when going out into the villages, these youth are evangelizing their communities with a double shot of good news. Not only are they taking bed nets and the public health initiative to the remote villages, but also they are taking the hope of life that comes from being a follower of Jesus. The report states, "During the months of December 2009 and January 2010 the SC Youth Coordinator (Edward) and Community Coordinator (Ramsey) and youth from Kalimbira and Nandzuluwa who were trained in Malaria prevention and control went into community to hang up nets for the widows in Ntandile and Njewa. The youth were very excited at the prospect of going into the community to evangelize whilst hanging nets and educating households in the community on malaria prevention and also to preach the good news of Jesus Christ whilst going about their business. The mosquito nets were part of the Women Orphans and Widows (WOW) program and what better way to get the message across to the widows on Malaria prevention which is hell on earth and entrance into God's Kingdom which would prevent hell in eternity!"
 
...that they may have life, and have it to the full...
A second report from SC addresses a new God's Economy project. In the latter months of 2009 donors stepped forward and gave funding for a new feeding center to be constructed through SC. This building is being erected in a place called Kasakula, a subcenter of the Kalimbira District outside the capital city of Lilongwe. Per our partner's request, the funds were wired in late January 2010 since the rains finally had stopped and the construction could commence. When we wire the funds from God's Economy, we do the transmission electronically. Our treasurer enters all of the data and then before hitting the "send" button, he pauses and prays. He asks the Lord to direct the funds to the proper account. More importantly, he releases them to the the Lord Almighty. He asks for the Lord to multiply them and transform them into something bigger than we can ever imagine. "May the recipients be blessed in mighty ways," he asks. It is a holy moment, the redistribution of God's resources here on earth. A recent email reported that the SC staff sent word that the Kasakula feeding center had broken ground. This is a zone that does not have a feeding center, yet dedicated members of the community feed children (orphans) in makeshift centers, under trees, and in run down churches. The faithful of Kasakula know that God has heard their prayers and has answered these petitions through the generosity of SC and their friends (us!). Men are reporting to the job site daily, pick axes, shovels and buckets in hand. There is great rejoicing in the village.
...that they may have life, and have it to the full...
 
There is Hope
 
TIH is God's Economy's newest partner. Their work is based in the Dzaleka Refugee Camp, where over 10,000 displaced people live. To date, GE funds have been used to procure scriptures for pastors and for a roof for an orphan center in the refugee camp. In late 2009 some God's Economy donors released money to our "general fund" category and these resources were transferred to TIH and used to fund a pastor's conference this past February. Segments from TIH mid-March report are below.
"The conference took place successfully on February 19-20 this year, and the pastors send greetings. The topics of the conference were three: Qualities of a Good Leader, How to Share the Gospel with Muslims, and the Church vis-à-vis HIV/AIDS. 17 Pastors came from across 14 denominations operating within the refugee camp attended the conference. The Pastors received some excellent teaching from professional speakers, as well as additional resources on Islam. They also had a well deserved break from camp life, with good food and refreshments, and a special night of praise and worship. We have reports of one pastor who, putting into practice what he learned about introducing Muslims to Christ, has already seen 10 Muslims accept Jesus since the conference. Thank you so much to those who donate to God's Economy for helping There is Hope to bless and build up those who lead believers at Dzaleka Refugee Camp! Please pass the gratitude and appreciation of the participating pastors onto your supporters."
...that they may have life, and have it to the full...
 
St. Gabriel's Hospital
 
Often money is sent to God's Economy and the donor does not hear specifically how the funds were stewarded. How was the end-user of the gift impacted? Quite some time ago, GE friends donated gifts to the ministry in order to purchase an x-ray processor for St. Gabriel's Hospital. A report came from the hospital administrator a month ago. "The Radiographer is full of smiles because the automatic processor has lessened his job, and there are no complaints in terms of delay in processing the films from both the patients and the clinicians. It has really made his life simple."
 
...that they may have life, and have it to the full...
 
Truly I believe that these reports lead us to the Easter message. Where death and despair want to claim the hearts, minds, bodies and souls of mankind, Jesus has come that they would have life and have it abundantly. A bed net covering a family in order to protect them from contracting the life threatening disease of malaria, a feeding center where hungry orphans will receive a daily meal, Scripture resources and pastoral training offering the message of salvation in Christ, a piece of equipment to streamline a man's job and increase the efficiency of a health care system, each is a tangible expression of the good news of Christ among us. Herein is life, hope, and purpose that cannot be contained. God's Economy, rejoice in the celebration that the resurrected Christ lives in us, and we have the great privilege of making this Life a daily reality both here and abroad. This is God's economy. Give it away this Easter Season and beyond.
And He departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him.
For He departed, and behold, He is here.  ~St Augustine *All data may be found at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mi.html
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The Hospital Kitchen – Faithful Ones

St. Gabriel’s Hospital is located in rural Malawi, accessible only by a dusty, dirt road about 2 miles from the tarmac road. St. Gabriel’s Hospital is a Catholic mission hospital established in 1959 by Carmelite Sisters from Luxembourg. The mission statement of the hospital is “to provide excellent services to the poor rural community and all those in need.” While I visited St. Gabriel’s, God gave me a new definition for the term “faithful ones”. The hospital is staffed by a group of devoted men and women who daily practice medicine and all the tasks that are necessary to keep the hospital running. I saw the local ambulance arrive one night (think two oxen yoked to a rickety cart that transported a hemorrhaging woman from an adjacent village). A team tethered the animals, grabbed the patient, and quickly got her inside to be triaged. Day and night the faithful ones of the St. Gabriel’s team faithfully serve in the trenches addressing malaria, HIV/AIDS, TB, poverty based illnesses, trauma, cancers, birth and death, with minimal resources at their disposal. There is another group of “faithful ones” at St. Gabriel’s. You see there is no institutional hospital kitchen for the in-patients at the hospital. Anyone who is admitted must have a caregiver along for the duration of the hospital stay. That caregiver is responsible not only for the palliative care of his/her loved one, but also for the daily feeding of the patient. The hospital has an out-building, a barn-like structure, made of handmade bricks. The four walls have cut out windows; there is a pocked dirt floor. This structure serves as the hospital kitchen. The female caregivers travel to the hospital with their family members, the patients. They cart their little pots, plastic bowls, and their young children along. Once there, three times a day the caregivers search for some sort of firewood so that they can lay a small campfire in the kitchen over which to cook a meager meal. A weak soup of cooked greens, or a bowl of porridge, or perhaps if one is lucky she finds some tomatoes or a dried fish to add to the nourishment of the ailing family member: this is the menu of the rural poor. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, over and over again these faithful ones prepare the meals in this smoke-filled barn. To stay in the kitchen for more than a few moments is to have uncontrollable tears and snot pour down one’s face. It is stifling and unbearable being amongst the forty or more open fires. While in the kitchen taking the pictures, the women readily embraced this visiting western photographer. They treated me as one of their own. We spoke no common words. Pantomime and the review of the photos was our means of communication. More than once one of the women came and gently grabbed my hand to lead me outside. Once outside she would take the hem of her dirty skirt and lovingly wipe the tears and mucous from my face. We’d laugh and simply hold onto one another. Regaining composure, we’d go back into the kitchen; me to take another snapshot, her to faithfully prepare her loved one’s next meal.