Kachhwa Christian Hospital is a small hospital providing health care primarily for the poor and outcasts of the area, many of whom would otherwise be unable to afford the care they need. In addition to a 20 bed ward, dental and eye departments, 100-150 patients attend the outpatient department on a daily basis. Linda was able to use her GP skills helping out most mornings. The language barrier was a challenge and there were naturally cultural differences. At times older relatives are abandoned at the hospital, family unwilling to pay for needed medical help when the older relative becomes unable to contribute to family life by working. Although much of what Linda encountered was familiar, tropical illnesses and snake bites are not typical presentations in Northern Ireland!! Many local people continue to seek help from their local witch doctor which often results in delayed presentation at the hospital; for certain illnesses this can prove fatal. Community Health Workers go into nearby villages to teach disease prevention and health promotion, in addition to sharing the Gospel. This has resulted in people attending much quicker after snake bites resulting in an improvement in survival rates.
Although this hospital seeks to provide good physical health care for local people, its main focus is spiritual - sharing the Gospel. In 2003 the hospital was at the point of closure and only one family was attending the church on the compound. However, since then through refocusing on sharing the Gospel and reaching out to the community, not only is the hospital thriving but they have planted nearly 1000 house churches in the surrounding villages and approximately 120 people attend the church on the compound. One of the main aspects of this ministry is training the pastors of the house churches. Every month 350 of these pastors come to the compound for a week of Bible teaching where they systemically go through the Bible, so they can teach better within their churches. Additionally, there are similar training events for woman so they can go back to their villages and talk to other woman, as it is not culturally acceptable for men to talk to women. I had the privilege of teaching at morning hospital devotions and also one of the residential training events. This was a sharp learning curve in preaching through a translator. It was also challenging to consider teaching within a cultural context – for those from a Hindu background where there are many gods the trinity is a particularly difficult concept.
This placement was a real insight into how the medical and spiritual aspects of mission work together in sharing the Gospel. We continue to pray for God’s guidance regarding our future.