Achu’s Hope Part II

-continued from yesterday-

“Dr. Dan Galat, orthopedic surgeon at Tenwek Hospital who has overseen Achu’s care, picks up the story:

As our orthopedic team evaluated Achu, the foul smell of necrotic flesh was strong, and our first thought was “there is no way to save her leg.” The piece of protruding bone was too large and after removing it, we were concerned that the remaining defect could never fill in with new and healthy bone. However, we were encouraged, as x-rays showed a surprisingly large bridge of new bone posteriorly, which explained why Achu, despite her condition, was still able to walk, bearing weight on her leg. In addition, we had the sense that God was at work and we were just along for the ride. So that same day, we took Achu to theatre, and removed this piece (approx. 3 inches) of dead sequestrum. Indeed, the hole it left in her leg was cavernous, but we could feel the bridge of bone posteriorly, and the leg miraculously felt very stable.

Achu is currently still in the hospital undergoing daily “whirlpool” therapy in a Jacuzzi-like tub to clear up any remaining signs of infection, and soon, we hope to continue wound VAC therapy which utilizes a sponge and suction to encourage formation of granulation tissue that will slowly fill in this defect. What is most striking to us now about Achu is her beautiful and continual smile, which, I believe, is the reflection of new-found hope. She knows there is a God who has seen her condition and is loving her with a perfect love.

Her story reminds me of Hagar, who when she met God, called him El Roi, “the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13). God is answering her prayers (and the prayers of many others) and we are privileged to be a small part of this process, seeing yet another one of God’s miracles on behalf of the poor at Tenwek. I am humbled and moved to worship the Father who sees the neglected, the abused, and the hopeless.”

“Dr. Galat shared some specific prayer requests: that the new bone continues to strengthen and remodel so that it is healthy; that the defect would fill quickly with healthy granulation tissue; and that Achu’s time at Tenwek would allow her to experience how much God loves her.

As Nanci and I have read these various reports and articles about Achu, we have wept together. God’s hand upon this girl’s life is remarkable. What a privilege for EPM to help her live and walk and, we hope, to love Jesus with all her heart.

And thanks to those who kindly support EPM with your financial gifts. You had had a major role in the life of this little girl, and countless others.

-Randy Alcorn,  http://www.epm.org/blog/2012/Mar/23/god-who-sees-me-achus-hope

The God Who Sees Me: Achu’s Hope

“Can you remember what it was like to be a kid between Thanksgiving and Christmas? For most of us, the anticipation of Christmas coming was all we could talk about. Some things are like that—they’re so good we can’t get them off our minds. That’s definitely the case with the story of a Sudanese orphan named Achu.

Even though the New Republic of Sudan seceded fromSudanin 2011, after five decades of Islamic invasion, slavery, and genocide, there is still no infrastructure within the fledgling country. In fact, much of it is still under attack and bombed on a daily basis.

Since there is no other medical care available, thousands of people walk for hours, and even days, in the unbearable heat to visit the small Make Way Partners open-air clinic. With our extremely limited staff and resources, each sunrise delivers two to three times more patients piled and waiting around our door than those we can actually treat in one day.

So, each morning the clinic staff passes out vouchers—first come, first serve—to the waiting number of patients which the medical team deems they can treat that day. As hard as it is to do, all others are mercifully sent away so that they do not wait all day—in vain—under the unforgiving sun.

Dr. Matt Mooreland, MWP mission-team member, was finishing his second day of serving in 130 degree heat on the border of Darfur, Sudan when his eyes fell upon a frail child sitting in the door way. She had no life-saving voucher to wave before Dr. Matt. Early in the morning Achu had been told that she could not be seen that day…no room in the inn…she was sent away.

Persistent as the woman in Mark 7, who begged Jesus to treat her like a dog who ate the crumbs falling from his plate, Achu didn’t leave. She curled into a fetal position on the sidelines, where MWP indigenous director Lual Atak found her, and helped her toward the front of the clinic.

The miracle happened. Dr. Matt met Achu.

Bad news accompanied the miracle, however. As Dr. Matt unwound the filthy cloth tied around Achu’s twig-thin leg, he found that three to four inches of Achu’s bone protruded through her skin just below her knee. Pus poured out of the swollen wound, and the foul stench of decaying flesh quickly filled the room, forcing most of the nonmedical staff to leave.

Dr. Matt learned that the injury had occurred a year earlier: “Achu stated that a little over a year ago she was wrestling with a friend by the borehole in her village and her leg got twisted up.  Unable to bear weight, she crawled back home and stayed on the ground for almost two months straight. Her mother was dead, her father was a drunk, and the stepmother was refused any money for aid because all Achu’s father would do is drink it away. Because of her leg injury, Achu was not able to work, and her family blamed her for the loss of two otherwise healthy hands… After two months, she forced herself to start walking and moving around, and over time developed a way to function day to day, while completing her chores.”

But the story grew worse. Dr. Matt realized that the infection was so severe, that even with excellent medical care—which was not possible from our scantily-supplied-open-air clinic—Achu would surely lose her leg, if not her life.

In the words of Dr. Matt, “It was my duty to tell her there are no amount of medications to keep a dying piece of bone from eventually infecting her entire frail body. It was a devastating prognosis. Achu, who was without a smile already, dropped her head and stopped making eye contact with anyone. As medical professionals, we are taught to deliver bad news with honest, straight talk followed by a sincere attempt to show sympathy and hope. However, in this case, my response was long on sympathy and very short on hope. The facts are simply that the average citizen in this area of the world has no access to surgical services and no means to travel the hundreds of miles to obtain those services. I had just handed down Achu’s death sentence.”

The entire team remained in constant prayer for Achu. I’ve always been sort of a dragee when it came to social media, but I’d read a convincing article by John Piper a few months earlier about God using 140-character tweets just as powerfully as 30-minute sermons. We just have to work harder on getting them down to size! So I called on thousands of others to join in prayer, and realized John was right—God can indeed move through social media.

Thousand filled (and continue to fill) the no-man’s-land between Heaven and earth with prayer. Then, another miracle: Eternal Perspective Ministries wrote offering to cover Achu’s medical expenses, if Make Way Partners could coordinate it.

I called my friend Dr. Carol Spears at Tenwek Hospital inKenya and asked her if Tenwek would be able to treat Achu. Dr. Carol informed me that not only would they treat her, but also that Dr. Dan Galat, on staff, was a Mayo Clinic-trained orthopedic surgeon.

Miracle number too-many-to-count—a Mayo-trained orthopedic surgeon in the next country over, who was willing to operate on Achu! But we would need the stream of miracles to flow with whitewater power; getting Achu out ofSudanwould be no small task.

In order to justify not giving up any of his booze money, Achu’s father denied Achu needed help. So, even though we offered to cover all expenses from the private charter to get her out of war-tornSudan, to medical expenses inKenya, to food and lodging for her big sister to accompany her along the scary journey, Achu’s father refused. Drunken Sudanese men do not easily or usually change their minds, nor admit they are wrong.

Even if her father agreed to let us take Achu to Tenwek, we still only had a few days to create and file for approval the necessary travel and immigration documents to legally transport her across international borders. Achu is from a land where there are no birth certificates, identification papers, educational records, or immunization vaccines. She had never ridden in a car, much less flown on a plane.

Slowly-by-slowly, as they say inSudan, I kept making plans through Dr. Carol inKenya, and believers fromAlabamatoSwitzerlandandSudantoAustraliakept filling up that no-man’s-land with prayers. The stream of miracles raged on against the gates of evil, and Achu’s father suddenly agreed to let her go even as the local commissioner rushed together all the required travel documents.

This emaciated, abandoned orphan had every reason in the world to not trust anything we said. Yet, she boarded our plane in childlike faith, spreading her lips in a smile that lit all our hearts for the next eight hours of fly-time.

My seat sat backwards, like the old trains used to do, so that I was facing Achu. I studied her face as our World-War-II-era DC3 bounced down the trench-riddled dirt airstrip and rattled into ascension. I expected fear. I saw nothing but the pure unadulterated Hope that the One True Christmas is surely coming.

Achu had told Dr. Matt that a month before coming to the Make Way Partners clinic, she had started going into the local church and praying to God that she could find a way to get her leg fixed.  When she and her sister heard about the clinic, they traveled in faith, hoping that someone there could help her. Achu then stated that God had answered her prayer and that now—for the first time—she had hope.

Hebrews chapter 13 comes to me. With passionate exhortation the author exhorts us to stop trying to live the privileged life, and to go outside the camp—where Jesus lived and died, where the action is. I have lived on four different continents and traveled to many others. I know of no other place farther “outside the camp” thanSudan.

Thank you for joining Achu—and many other unadoptable orphans “outside the gate” in prayer, financial support, and sharing her story so that others might join her, too. Miraculous stories of Hope are like experiencing a childlike Christmas all over again; you just can’t stop talking about them and sharing the hope with others!

Love, your sister along the journey,

Kimberly L. Smith”

For the rest of the story, read here: http://www.epm.org/blog/2012/Mar/23/god-who-sees-me-achus-hope

His Final Interview: C.S. Lewis on the Future and Space Travel

Randy Alcorn quoting C.S. Lewis’ last interview and speaking on the glory of God in the universe.

“Shortly before he died November 22, 1963 (yes, the same day as John F. Kennedy), C. S. Lewis granted his final interview to Sherwood Elliot Wirt, of Decision Magazine. It’s a fascinating interview. I found the final two questions and answers interesting:

Wirt: What do you think is going to happen in the next few years of history, Mr. Lewis?

Lewis: I have no way of knowing. My primary field is the past. I travel with my back to the engine, and that makes it difficult when you try to steer. The world might stop in ten minutes; meanwhile, we are to go on doing our duty. The great thing is to be found at one’s post as a child of God, living each day as though it were our last, but planning as though our world might last a hundred years.

We have, of course, the assurance of the New Testament regarding events to come. I find it difficult to keep from laughing when I find people worrying about future destruction of some kind or other. Didn’t they know they were going to die anyway? Apparently not. My wife once asked a young woman friend whether she had ever thought of death, and she replied, “By the time I reach that age science will have done something about it!”

Wirt: Do you think there will be widespread travel in space?

Lewis: I look forward with horror to contact with the other inhabited planets, if there are such. We would only transport to them all of our sin and our acquisitiveness, and establish a new colonialism. I can’t bear to think of it. But if we on earth were to get right with God, of course, all would be changed. Once we find ourselves spiritually awakened, we can go to outer space and take the good things with us. That is quite a different matter.”

-C.S. Lewis, September, 1963

“As a fan of his space trilogy, I especially love Lewis’s final answer in light of the biblical teaching of a new heavens and New Earth, in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13). In such a new universe, with a new outer space, might people build and travel and explore to the glory of God?

The stars of the heavens declare God’s glory (Psalm 19:1), yet how vast and distant they are. God made countless billions of galaxies containing perhaps trillions of nebulae, planets, and moons. Not many in human history have seen more than a few thousand stars, and then only as dots in the sky. If the heavens declare God’s glory now, and if we will spend eternity proclaiming God’s glory, don’t you think exploring the new heavens, and exercising dominion over them, will likely be part of God’s plan?

As a twelve-year-old, I first viewed through a telescope the great galaxy of Andromeda, consisting of hundreds of billions of stars and untold numbers of planets, nearly three million light years from Earth. I was mesmerized. I also wept, not knowing why. I was overwhelmed by greatness on a cosmic scale and felt terribly small and alone. Years later I first heard the gospel. After I became a Christian, I found that gazing through the telescope became an act of delighted worship.

From the night I first saw Andromeda’s galaxy, I’ve wanted to go there. I now think it’s likely I will.

It’s hard for me to believe God made countless cosmic wonders intending that no human eye would ever behold them and that no human should ever set foot on them. The biblical accounts link mankind so closely with the physical universe and link God’s celestial heavens so closely with the manifestation of his glory that I believe he intends us to explore the new universe. The universe will be our backyard, a playground and university always beckoning us to come explore the wealth of our Lord—as one song puts it, the God of wonders beyond our galaxy.”

-Randy Alcorn, 03-05-2012, http://www.epm.org/blog/2012/Mar/5/his-final-interview-cs-lewis-future-and-space-trav

Evaluating Movies in Light of Scripture

Great article on discernment at the movies by Randy Alcorn.   http://www.epm.org/blog/2012/Feb/27/evaluating-movies-light-scripture

“On my Facebook page, someone asked: “Randy, you often mention that you and Nanci have been to a movie. I’m curious about what kind and rating of movies you attend. I’m interested in how you regard the type of movie (violence, sexual overtones, etc.). Should Christians knowingly attend such films? This of course also applies to TV programs.”

Good movies are hard to find. I know, we’re supposed to pretend that movies have no influence on us, or our children. That way we can be cool and go with the popular drift of culture and prove that not all Christians are uptight and moralistic.

But sexually explicit—and even suggestive—movies, TV, books, etc. are unacceptable according to Ephesians 4-5. Non-gratuitous violence can be acceptable for adults, I think, as long as it neither tempts us to do violence nor desensitizes us to true violence. Figuring that out will vary from person to person. But certainly our general Christian tolerance for sexual immorality is way too excessive. Remembering that Jesus is always with us, and asking ourselves what He thinks, should make a big difference.

Some Christians might say, “But it’s almost impossible to rent a movie without sex and offensive language.” There are Christian movie-review sites that can help you make good selections for family viewing. (Check out www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/movies;  www.movieguide.org; o rwww.pluggedin.com.) There are also services which offer edited movies, television adaptors which edit profanity, and DVD software that cuts offensive scenes from movies.

Even then, we need to make sure that we are evaluating what we are watching in light of Scripture. Instead of His Word simply being one more influence on us, God intends it to be authoritative over all other influences. I read it not simply as one more source of input but as the Source and the authoritative standard by which I judge all other input.

I evaluate Seinfeld or Friends in light of Scripture. Then, if I’m discerning, in my opinion, I stop watching Seinfeld or Friends. Why? Because the themes, while amusingly handled, are often (not always, of course) immoral and tempt me to think in those terms. I evaluate Gladiator in light of Scripture and realize that the themes of courage, the quest for human rights and liberty, and standing up with comrades in making principled sacrifice is biblical. I also discern that the movie’s theology of people without Christ going to Heaven and reuniting with unbelieving family members is false. Using biblical discernment, I glean the true things from the movie, while screening out the bad. Only then is my mind protected from the subtle or not-so-subtle undermining of truth.

Bottom line, suppose there were no decent movies—what then? I enjoy good movies, but the Bible never commands us “Watch movies.” It does command us to “Guard your heart.”

-Randy Alcorn, 02-27-2012