On Saturday, after 24 hours, I was sure, Elmer, his family called him “Boy”, would die. He was hardly conscious. He wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t drink. I was sure his lungs were full of fluid. After every coughing fit, I would hold my breath to see if he kept on breathing. Read more
Something is breaking in his life… Just the past 2 weeks. For the first time since he came to us a year ago, he has changed. His smiles catch us off guard, his contagious laugh that we have never heard before, rings through the house. He is like a flower before our eyes, opening its petals to the sun… Read more
I remember the day I met David… he was a new convert and the signs of his past life hung on tight. It was clear he had been a drug addict, long, streaked hair, earrings, his cheeks hollow, his eyes sunken. His fingernails were long and filed. He swaggered with pseudo toughness that frightened away most.
David was born to a 16 year old girl, his father a known drug addict and fighter in the streets. At 6 months old, David’s father was stabbed and died in the streets. His mother left him with a grandmother and went to Japan as a dancer. Alone, David grew up following closely in the steps of his father. By the age of 20, he was a hopeless drug addict. He walked the streets with his gang, beating strangers up. He killed animals. He was full of hate. He stayed out all night, and slept all day. He didn’t work, just demanded money from his grandmother, who didn’t dare refuse him. He was dangerous.
Somehow, David went to our church youth camp on 2001 and God radically saved him. At the alter, he laid on is face before God, weeping for forgiveness and a chance to change his ways.
He struggled to quit smoking… told lies, even quit our program for boys wanting to change. Then he got sick and in desperation called us. We rescued him late in the night and got medical help. He was diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis and his life was forever changed.
I can still see him weeping in our living room… asking if God would give him another chance at life, he didn’t want to die.
We have walked with him through many struggles and life lessons but God has kept him. Imagine being 23 and having never had a job… never having to get up in the morning for work… never having to cook for yourself or do your laundry…. David has learned a lot.
Now, 4 years later, David has a full time job in a travel agency and has been steadily growing up.
We were so excited to stand with him as he married a beautiful Christian girl that he was very much in love with. She is a teacher and woman of faith… (and will keep him organized!)
We are so proud of him and again so amazed at God’s faithfulness and ability to change and transform.
“What is an evangelist,” I remember him asking me one night two years ago. I explained it and he said, “Oh,” he said suddenly very quiet. “God told me that is what I will be…”
God will always finish what He starts, that is His promise. I don’t know what God has planned for David and KC, but I believe it is good.
David is the namesake for our D.A.V.I.D. Boys Program (Discovering A Vision In Darkness), here in the Philippines where we take in street boys and drug addicts and teach them that Jesus loves thems and has a plan for them.
“And yet there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, it will sprout again and its new shoots will not die.” Job 14:7
It is Friday, the end of the third week of this awful ordeal with the little boy who was so badly burned.
Ate E (our Scottish midwife) and I get the basin of water and put on our gloves trying to prepare ourselves for this task. We’ve done it every day this week and it isn’t any easier today. Gil looks over at me from the TV show he is watching and starts to cry. Not a silent cry but more like shrieking… I haven’t even touched him yet. I would very much like to turn around and leave the room… God, give me strength. Give Gil strength.
Nico is here, the older brother but he looks weary already. Slowly we drip water on the bandages. Gil shrieks. Not so much. Do it slowly. Ow. Don’t touch me! Slowly, please. Please! I need my mommy. I don’t like you. Please. No more. No, I don’t want this. Please…
Ate E gently strokes his brow and holds his hands. I natter non-stop to him… the same old lines. We have to do this. We have to get the infection off the wound. Do you want to go back to the hospital? Come on, you’re a big boy. Jesus will help you. You ask him to help you…You can do this, Gil.
The gauze is so stuck… it is more like cheese cloth and adheres to the bloody wounds like sticky tape. How are we ever going to get this off?
I have called my friends in Canada to send a special kind of non-stick gauze… O, why isn’t it here yet? How much more of this can I take? How much more can Gil take?
His screams bounce off the walls and my head pounds. There… one more piece off. Oh that one is stuck right there at the back of the thigh. Oh, dear. That one will have to be pulled.
No… don’t… please…
Come on, Gil. Help me out. Work with me. I will be gentle. I am going very slow. Stop freaking out. I give a gentle tug… its been an hour already and I’m not even half done… it comes off.
We all breathe a sigh of relief and rest for a moment. Ate E is still calmly talking into his ear and praying all the while. The sound of her voice is somehow very encouraging though I look at her and her eyes are red and brimmed with tears. She looks exhausted.
I start again with the water but it is too late. Gil has had enough. Now he roars. I decide to pull the last piece of gauze off his inner thigh without his permission. I have been so careful to not cause any pain or surprise him. I’ve been so gentle… But it is so terribly infected. He screams because he is angry. The wounds start to bleed. Gil sees the blood and starts to kick and scream… I can’t hold him down… he’s like an animal… but the leg is really bleeding because of his screaming… I have to settle him…
That is enough. I hear my voice above his. You will stop right now. Your wounds are bleeding because you are screaming. Stop it right now. I roar at Nico to hold his upper body still and not let him see the blood. I think he is panicking. I pad on gauze to stop the blood. The white sheets are soaked… this is enough to give anyone a fright. I continue to speak in a restrained yet very strong voice and suddenly all is very quiet. Just me barking orders…
We move him onto clean sheets and I remove the bloody gauze and I hold his leg still watching to see that the bleeding has stopped. It is just raw meat. Is this ever going to end? Will it ever heal?
I simply cannot do this… I will not put that stupid cheese cloth stuff. O, that the other gauze will arrive tomorrow. The room is silent. I decide to leave the wounds open, to give the air a chance to do something. Anything is better than that gauze. We move him into Noah’s room with the air conditioning. How horrific for Gil to have to see his leg like this but I don’t know what else to do.
Pray, Ate E. Pray.
He settles down on the bed with his Spiderman movie and his plate of supper. He takes his medicine and refuses to look at me or respond to my questions but he looks fine. He even laughed at the cartoon… Ate E and I are exhausted. We go to the kitchen to make hot tea and debrief…
The next day, we took Gil to the doctor at the burn ward. The infection was so concerning to me. He cleaned the wound and said nothing. “Keep
doing what you are doing,” he said. I stare in unbelief. “He doesn’t qualify to be admitted. It’s not bad enough.” He wraps up the wounds in more cheesecloth
gauze and we go home.
That afternoon the gauze arrived from Canada. We have used it for 3 bandage changes now… it falls off by itself with just a little water. Thank you, Lord. The dressing of the wounds now only takes 30 minutes at the most.
Please continue to pray for healing. There is great improvement on the side and buttocks… the thigh wound is so deep and so infected. Pray for us to have wisdom as we are left to care for this child with little help or advice from the medical community…
By God’s provision, we have had enough money come in to pay for all the expenses so far. Thank you for helping us. Thank you, Estevan, for the gauze. We believe God has a plan for this little boy, that his little life will be an example of God’s miraculous provision and healing.
This afternoon, the hospital discharged the little boy that was burned on more than 20% of his 5-year-old body. The hospital needed the beds and after only one debridement and very strong intravenous antibiotics, in just 10 days he had recovered incredibly fast. Read more
He is only five.
He was playing while his mother was cooking hot soup in their squatter shack.
He saw a spider and tried to catch it… the pot of boiling soup spilled over him causing 3rd degree burns to 20% of his little body… Read more
It was the fourth day of a children’s crusade we were doing with a team from Canada.
The week had been long and we had worked hard, doing everything from clown crusades, to youth ministry, to family visitation and even concerts in the city jails.
I picked up the crying child that was being dragged around by a little boy only about a year older, maybe 4 or 5. The crying one was clad only in a dirty t-shirt, his skinny legs and body caked in dirt. His face was filthy and the tears left streaks down his hollow looking cheeks. I started to turn away when I noticed the boil on his ear. Closer inspection revealed his body full of boils. Some just ready to burst, some bloody, some the puss oozing out. I was furious. I gently picked him up and set off to right this obvious wrong.
My feeling was anger- but a strange sense had come over me. The four-year-old took my hand as I carried the little one who was whimpering. Only a few streets away, I came to the door of a dark and very dirty home. I demanded to speak to the parents.
The neighbors, obviously surprised, called to the parents, laughing and shouting warnings that they were in trouble. A sickly looking young man came down the rickety stairs and tried to grab the child. I pulled away. I confronted him and he yelled. He shouted obscenities and cursed me and then turned shakily on his heel to enter the back room only a few feet away.
I gently let the child go and followed the father, who was now crouching on the floor. An old man drinking whisky was squatting on the floor beside him. The mother of the child was sitting on the bed, holding a very sickly looking two-month-old. It was so dark, so filthy. How they lived here, I don’t know.
I prodded and pushed and demanded answers to my questions. A quick look showed me he had just come from jail. I was thankful I knew the tattoos that branded convicts for life. He was startled that I recognized the marks and suddenly for a moment let his guard down but only enough to tell me he was wounded. He couldn’t work. He was in pain. He refused to show me his wound. He wasn’t an addict and he didn’t need any help. I smiled at the last comment. “I don’t approach people to help them. I don’t know why I’m here but I know you are dying. Your pride will kill you if you don’t ask for my help.” He turned his back to me with an arrogance and the room was silent. I closed the broken door behind me and left.
That night I couldn’t sleep.
The next morning I took vitamins for the baby and the child. I was coldly welcomed. We climbed the stairs to a dark room where his wife lay on the floor shivering, from a night of selling flowers in the rain, the baby quietly sucking on her dirty hands beside her. Death was in this home.
I once again asked to see his wound. After only a few minutes, he pulled the masking tape off his chest, just cotton balls acting as guaze… the infection seeping into the bones underneath was obvious by the swelling. The wound was as large as my fist… bloody and raw, right in the center of his chest. My eyes filled with tears. I looked at him closely. His cheeks were hollow, his eyes empty. He labored with each breath, his body clearly racked with pain.
The next day, I took him to the doctor to have a chest x-ray and blood work. His back was swollen… the infection seems to have eaten right through his chest. In the back of the van, he broke. Tears streaming down his face, he told how he was beat by the police until his sternum was broken. He was left untreated for 8 months then operated on by a doctor who left the wound open. He was given expired medicine and left to die. Somehow, last January he was released only to find his wife pregnant by another man. He could hardly walk, much less work. He was tired, scared, desperate for help. If only he could stop doing drugs… if only someone could help him. He hung his head and sobbed. Only 23 years old, he was a drug addict to “shabu” that everyone had written off. Every day he fought the voices telling him to steal. “But I want to change,” he whispered. “I’m ready to change. Please.”
He is upstairs, now. Laying on the floor curled up in a ball. I have seen people die. He has that look… of one that is hunted by death… but I am speaking life into him.
We have snatched another from the devil’s claws… BamBam accepted the Lord a few hours ago and joined our program. We have washed his feet and the DAVID boys have prayed over him. We have fed him and clothed him. We have given him medicine. We will see what the following days hold.
God has a plan for this young man.
The air is hot… unmoving. The heat of the day is nothing compared to the stillness disturbed only by the odd fan blowing on some. There are no voices. The whirring of an oxygen machine over in the corner, someone coughing weakly, a groan, lungs rattling with each breath sucked in… There is an eerie silence.
This is the tuberculosis ward where I had to bring BamBam. 30 beds line this ward, 20 on the other side of the divider. There are no sheets, no TV’s… All the men are sick… young and old… different stages of death… some unable to sit, some full of pussing wounds, some only breathing through the oxyen machines that stand quietly beside the beds… some are a grey sort of color, chests heaving, sucking each precious breath in…
Tuberculosis is an epidemic in the Philippines.
It is highly contagious, this is the only hospital that will take these patients. Medication does cure TB but the complications usually kill… pneumonia, infected lumps that break out all over… killing from within…
Nurses scurry about silently… double layer masks on… the priest waits in the foyer… his services needed regularly… last night 2 men died… in silence…
Everyone is just struggling to stay alive… one more hour… maybe one more day…
I walk in slowly. The traffic to get to this hospital is brutal… 2 hours. Smiling- looking carefully and purposefully at every patient as I walk to the very end… BamBam is lying on his side, curled up. His eyes sparkle when he sees me. I feed him, check his IV, change the bandages on his oozing chest wounds, wash his hands and feet, change his shirt. He too, is silent, but when we are done, he sits up and smiles. His eyes are no longer empty but they search my face… I smile and take his hand. I speak only words of encouragement, of hope, of faith… We pray together and I get ready to go. He asks me for a chess board. See you tomorrow and I walk slowly, again looking at every other patient… they are like living dead… but I smile… O Jesus…my heart quivers…
I hadn’t realize how shallow my breaths were in the ward, I take a deep breath and step into the bright sunshine. To breathe is no longer something I take for granted. Tears sting my eyes as I walk slowly to the van… I don’t’ know if this is the best place for BamBam and I don’t know if he will get well here. There is nothing sterile or clean… but I can’t keep him where there are children or other weak bodies…O God, I need a miracle…
God, keep our faith up. Just one touch, Father… Thy will, Lord… I pray with unmoving lips… my stomach in knots.
Another one died last night… 5 beds down on the right… I smiled at him yesterday…