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Ruth

October 3, 2019
by Sheila Leech

Ruth

October 3, 2019
by Sheila Leech

Walking along the narrow dusty trail the lady approaching appears to be struggling. She is limping. Her face is contorted with pain as she fights to make the distance to where the pop-up clinic is situated under the shade of the leafy green mango trees. Her face drips with perspiration in the hot sun. She is tall and elegant, beautifully dressed and, aside from the pained facial expression and limp, could easily be gracing the catwalks of Paris.

mobile medical clinic in rural GhanaIn this remote region of Ghana, healthcare is not readily available and Ruth (as her name turns out to be) has suffered a long time. With the grimacing determination on her face, it is plain that she feels the painful walk will be worthwhile and she has hopes for healing.

Later that morning, after waiting her turn in the long line of patients waiting to see the doctors, Ruth finally takes her seat in front of Dr. Martin and his translator. She tells her story. She is embarrassed and ashamed and although she has nothing to feel shame about, she insists that the doctor looks at her foot, which is causing her suffering, in complete privacy.

In the seclusion of a dark dusty abandoned schoolroom, Ruth reveals a horrendous massive open sore which goes from the top of her foot, all the way up her ankle, and onto her leg. She is clearly afraid of anyone seeing this. Her face shows unbearable sadness and one wonders how this sore is affecting her life. Does her husband no longer want to be with her? Does her family shun and reject her? What are the beliefs in this community where animism is rife, concerning these things? Do her friends and neighbors believe she is cursed? Do they think she is paying the price for some wrongdoing? Do they think she needs to see a fetish priest to be released from some kind of spell? These and so many other questions.

One thing is painfully clear; Ruth is ashamed of this condition and does not want anyone to know about it. Her shame only compounds her physical suffering.

A mobile medical clinic held in rural GhanaThe wound is cleaned and dressed. The health authorities are contacted. We suspect a Buruli ulcer, a condition caused initially by an insect bite, which needs specialist treatment and close monitoring by the Ghana Health authorities. We make arrangements for Ruth to attend the district hospital in the closest town. They will make a definitive diagnosis and advise on specialist treatment. Finally, she has a glimmer of hope; a hope that things will change, that things will get better, that she will be well once again, no longer to live in hiding, no longer to feel shame.

“Madaase” she says with a shy smile, as she raises eyes full of hope for the first time to look at us. “Thank you.”

We met many people like Ruth with ulcers, or open sores, or painful conditions. Many keep their conditions hidden, and they feel the same shame. They do not want anyone to see what is underneath the covering of their seemingly respectable lives. They know they are all suffering from similar conditions. Maybe it isn’t physical but perhaps worse: domestic violence, alcoholism, spirit worship and more. The things that the Bible refers to as sin. Sin is like an ugly ulcer which mars and disfigures, damages, and destroys lives. Sin brings shame. Sin makes us hide.

Ruth received help when she came to the doctors, acknowledging her need and being willing to ask for help. Many people in her village received physical healing those days at the clinic. Some even asked for deeper healing. They received prayer and counselling as they brought their wounded and sinful hearts before the Lord Jesus Christ, to ask for His help and forgiveness.

We are grateful to God for the opportunity to bring health care to this village. We are even more grateful for the opportunity to invite its people to receive the gift of God in Christ Jesus––eternal life, forgiveness, salvation and a place in heaven.

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In July, our team of medical professionals and interns traveled throughout the remote villages and towns in Ghana, to provide medical care and children’s ministry programming. Nearly 2,000 patients were seen, and 70 new believers came to faith. We celebrate what God is doing in the region!