Celia’s Story

This is the story of a lady I met on our team to Nicaragua in

Our team of doctors in Nicaragua

Our team of doctors in Nicaragua

August. Her story reminded me of many lessons I have learned about missions, medicine and wholistic care.

Celia came with multiple medical problems and insomnia. She had also been having pelvic pain for 8 months. However it became quickly clear that something else was going on.  It turns out that her symptoms began when 15 month-old baby died. He had been having diarrhea and she took him to the hospital and he died. She hadn’t been to the doctor for her own symptoms because she felt like they didn’t do anything to help her son.  Several things ran through my mind as we talked.

1. What happened to her son? Was this a preventable death?

Our Nicaragua CHE team, working to prevent illness and bring life in Christ

Our Nicaragua CHE team, working to prevent illness and bring life in Christ

15,000 children around the world die every day from preventable causes like diarrhea. Had there been a Community Health Evangelism (CHE) program in her community, maybe better water and hygiene would have prevented his sickness.  Maybe she would have recognized his illness sooner and begun home treatment or taken him to the hospital sooner, both of which might have prevented this death. Of course I don’t know the details. He may have had some other illness or a surgical emergency like intussuception that the local hospital resources weren’t adequate to treat. Or, he may simply have had some other catastrophic illness that would have resulted in his death no matter what care he received. We simply don’t know, but we do know that many children like her son still die of preventable illness. Are we doing enough?

2.  Physical, emotional and spiritual health are connected. Her symptoms were clearly connected to her son’s death and her resulting grief and depression. God made us as whole persons and when one part is affected, the whole body suffers.  Her illnes could not be treated with a pain pill or by just prescribing an antidepressant. She needed care for her whole person.
3. Jesus is the answer, even when we have no answer.  My first response to her was just to listen and try to avoid platitudes and pat answers that are really of no help to hurting people. I told her I don’t know why her son died. I validated her pain and grief.  She said she was a Christian. I told her I understood that being Christian may cause her to have even more questions. Can God let something this bad happen even to a Christian?  Although I didn’t have answers to her specific situation, I could remind her of some things we know are true an that we can hold on to.
  • God is good. We may not understand. We may not be able to see His perspective. But we can cling to his goodness even in hard times.
  • God loves her son and he loves her. It may not feel like it right now, but she is greatly loved.
  •  God knows how she feels. He too lost a Son. He had to watch his son die a horrible, painful, unjust death. He is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) because he too has been brokenhearted. However, because of Jesus death and resurrection we have hope. When we trust in him, we can know that we have a placed prepared in heaven where one day he will wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4)
We prayed together through tears. I did address her medical condition as well with some treatment, but I am convinced that our conversation and time of prayer are just as critical to her healing.
I am also motivated to continue to serve those who are medically underserved. I am motivated to bring preventive care and improved health to communities through Community Health Evangelism. And I am motivated to share Christ so that people like Celia can have a hope in times of pain.