Hundreds of villagers waiting to be tested during
one of the three days of the Health Mission
A three-day Medical Mission was a major part of our recent trip to Uganda. Our friends Cliff and Julie Pash run a mission base in Nawansega, Uganda. Over the last three years, we have partnered with them to raise funds for construction, as well as teaching and ministering in the villages each time we are there. A few months ago, the neighbor who owns the property next door to the mission base passed away unexpectedly. It soon came to light that he had died of an advanced case of syphilis. This moved Dr. Pash to action. How could you stand by and watch your neighbor die of a treatable disease and do nothing about it?
While the “Born Agains” (What the locals call the evangelical Christians) teach marriage is between one man and one wife, many of the Muslims and those of other African religions have multiple wives. If one adult in these marriages practices sexual impurity or marital unfaithfulness, diseases can spread to multiple adults within the family.
Janet, Julie Pash with Ugandan officials who came to
speak on the first day of testing.
The first problem to solve in our new plan to combat this disease was finances. Local officials were all too thrilled to give us help. Unfortunately, not all of the supplies were available from the government. We needed to raise money to purchase the testing kits and the medicine to treat any cases of syphilis we found. When the Pashes emailed their supporters about the need, they immediately responded with donations that covered the treatment kits and other expenses. Antioch Tabernacle Ministries provided money from our missionary offerings to pay for the medicine to treat those found to have syphilis.
The next task was to mobilize the people in the four villages surrounding the mission base to come to be tested. At first, a number of local Muslim officials refused to help, not wanting to do anything that lends any credibility to the Christians. But others put their differences with us aside and joined the work. The Lord gave us favor with the RDC, ( the regional governor), who came to the event to speak and demanded all of the officials to mobilize their villages. The regional arm of the Ugandan health ministry sent us a team of 5 workers who worked tirelessly along side us for three days. They also provided AIDS testing supplies, so that we could also test the villagers for HIV.
For three days, large crowds of villages came to the mission base to be tested. Volunteers from the team would take the names of the villagers. A nurse would then draw blood samples. While people were waiting, team members gave talks on preventing Aids, syphilis and other sexually-transmitted diseases by practicing purity and faithfulness. When the test results were completed, villagers were called into a private room one at a time and told the results.
Taking the blood samples
Teaching Purity and Faithfulness
On the third day of testing, we also had a special program for mothers with infant children. The local moms were treated to tea and a type of local homemade donut. Team members talked with them about health issues and prayed over the children. Each mom then got to pick an outfit for their baby from clothes sent from a church in Iowa.
Janet talking with a local Mom
New clothes for the babies
When it was all over, we had tested over 530 people over the three day period. When the test results came in,we identified 38 new cases of HIV, and 76 villagers with syphilis. Those with syphilis are being treated at the mission base with one shot a week over a four week period. Those positive for HIV were connected with a Ugandan government program to receive aid and supplies.
Being part of this effort was heartbreaking, frustrating, but also satisfying. It was a great way to show the love of Christ to the villages.
Sometimes we have to do more than just preach the gospel. Sometimes you have to demonstrate the gospel with what you do.