We serve with incredible partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Gabon who have sacrificed their lives to serve the poor and needy in the name of Christ. One example is Dr. Jean Claude Bateneni, who could be a surgeon anywhere in the world. His wife is also a doctor, and with their medical education and direction from God, they returned to their home village of Nebobonogo, DRC, to serve. Lives are saved and people are hearing about Christ regularly at this Christian hospital in Nebobongo. This is why we do what we do – to support these amazing men and women making a significant impact for the Kingdom of God in their own countries.
"The phrase 'the body of Christ' expresses well what we are called to do: to represent in flesh what Christ is like, especially to those in need." – Philip Yancey
This story is a difficult one to read, but it shows the importance of our partnership with Nebobongo Hospital. Without Dr. Jean Claude, this boy would have died. He is the only trained surgeon in the Haute-Uele province of two million people.
A young boy named Munguanenzo lives in the community and was at the receiving end of his father’s fit of drunken/high rage. The father attacked him with a machete and cut off his lower arm, and sliced through his face. He was rushed to the hospital and was bleeding out. The first thing Dr. Bateneni did was stabilize Munguanenzo, stop the profuse bleeding, and close up the wound on the arm as there was nothing to save. The facial wound was more complicated as the cut severed the duct of his saliva glands. If the duct wasn’t repaired, there would be no place for the saliva to go, and it would swell up in his face, rupture, become infected, and could lead to death. Fortunately, Dr. Bateneni had extensive training through the PAACS program and knew to look for this issue.
The surgery that followed is what we in the United States would have to see a specialist ENT surgeon for. It required delicate sewing of a very small gland and a stint to keep the duct open. There are no specialists in DRC, and another problem is that Nebobongo Hospital is still very basic and doesn’t have many of the medical supplies they need. We continue to work to support them in this area, but at this time, there are no stints for the doctors to use. Munguanenzo needed a stint put in his face for the saliva duct to continue to work. Dr. Bateneni had to get creative and used a plastic sheath cover from an IV needle. He planted this into the duct and sewed it all together. It worked! Munguanenzo is alive and doing well because of this life-saving treatment.
There are a couple of other components to this story that are important in understanding why we do what we do. The family had no money and could not pay for the procedures or his extended stay at the hospital. Our financial support for the hospital is the only way that they can give care to a majority of people in the region. Also, since this is a Christian hospital operated by the church there, they share the Gospel with patients and families. In Munguanenzo’s case, the chaplain met with him over the time he was there and shared God’s love with him and the power of forgiveness. The boy was very angry at his father and didn’t want to ever forgive him. After spending time with the chaplain over the weeks, he saw his father as he was taken away to prison, forgave him, and reconciled with him. That’s a pretty powerful testimony of the spiritual work the hospital is doing.
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:16-18