As I wrote the other day, I am continuing to come to reality with the hard way of life many people here have, and the darkness around us.
There was nothing in particularly different about this day. We woke up as normal, ate breakfast, and set out for Grace for morning fellowship and pr*yer. As I was comfortably sipping my morning cup of freshly roasted coffee, I had no idea what sp*ritual warfare we would face, even by lunchtime.
There are many women and children that Grace supports, depending on their individual needs at any given time. About 2 months ago, a woman came to the door pregnant and in need. Her baby is now one month old. During labor, this woman was having seizure after seizure and was struck with severe post-pardom depression, saying she did not want her baby. The beautiful thing about Grace, is that when a woman says she does not want her child, they do not give up on her being able to care for and love her child. So the baby went in to temporary care, and when the mother was better she happily took her baby home and has been caring for her since. Until…the other day when she was very sick again and went back in to the hospital. Every day has been an up and down. She wants to see her baby, then she doesn’t. The past few days she has been feeling better and looking forward to going home soon.
Feeling compelled by the S*rit on this particular morning following pr*yer, I asked our psychologist/counselor when she was going to the hospital to see this lady, and if I could go with her. I wasn’t sure what I was planning on saying, but I was sure that the Father was leading me to go with an open heart to be able share and encourage her to embrace her child and to embrace the responsibility of being a mother. As we walked into the hospital compound, I was asking the Father to help have a willing and open heart, to be obedient and bold, and to be so filled and led by the Sp*rit that it would be impossible to ignore Him.
I had been to the hospital before, so what I saw on the surface was not shocking. Rooms crowded with sick people; filthy, drab, concrete walls and floors; few nurses; people being sent home to die. But what I was about to experience when I entered this lady’s room was far beyond anything I felt prepared for. Thankfully I felt the Sp*rit strong within me, and was with our dear social worker who has an amazing heart, full of love, patience, and compassion.
The particular room we were visiting was the “pysch” room, which should have been more than enough clue that this visit would be nothing less than interesting. We had been there only long enough to great the woman and to find a seat, before we were approached another patient sharing the same room. This man’s eyes were wide and blank. They reminded me almost of a blind person’s eyes…they are open, but you know they are not seeing anything. He had a stiff posture and everything about him was monotone. Looking directly at me, he said we were disturbing him and that we needed to leave.
After my friend the social worker had a few calm words with him, she decided it best if we left the room. So we walked around the corner to where we could talk with the woman through the window that was by her bedside. The man again approached and asked us to leave. My friend, who’s name means “Life”, was upset that we were unable to pr*y for this lady and visit with her. I knew immediately that this was warfare and the enemy was getting in the way of what the work of the Sp*rit.
We decided it would be good for the woman to have some fresh her anyways, and invited her outside to the courtyard with us. While we were waiting outside, my eye was caught by another patient who, come to find out, was sharing the room. There was nothing special about him…just a quiet, countryside farmer who had come to town to be treated at the hospital. With this man, was a priest and another lady who ended up being his brother and sister.
What was happening to this man did not occur to me right away, as I was trying to process what had just previously happened. After a few moments, I felt rage well up inside me, sadness and distress overwhelm me, and yet an even stronger burning in my heart (not from the spicy food) to act and do something. All of these emotions and feelings I believe came out one at a time as I watched this priest hit the man with a stick, kick him, and beat him down with words.
First, my anger came out. I stared firmly at the priest (which does not intimidate Esther, so I doubt if it did much to intimidate the priest) and proclaimed in baby Amharic, “What are you doing? This man is not a horse. He is a man. He is a creation of God. Why are you hitting him?” The priest backed off for a moment, though I have no recollection of what his face showed.
As I watched him again hit the man, the Sp*rit overcame me and I stepped over to the man, knelt down, a told the man I wanted to pr*y with him. Crossing myself, eyes open to know better what to pr*y, and hands held open to the sky, I pr*yed over him. I don’t even remember what words came out of my mouth. Maybe some were Amharic, some were English, but I could hear that the crowd around us had silenced until the end, when I heard whispers of “Gobez nat” (She is good). I knew in my heart that I was incapable of that act a part from being guided by our higher power this day, but was affirmed by the crowds reaction that I had acted out of the Sp*rit rather than sheer impulse. I pr*yed in my heart that my actions would not make circumstances more harsh for this man.
Finally, looking around for my friend and the woman we were there to see, I couldn’t find them. Confused, I walked back in to the room and was embraced by my weeping sister. We held each other and wept at such appalling treatment. Being approached again by the previous, seemingly possessed man, we said our quick goodbyes and walked hand in hand, sobbing down the hallway.
Following the lead of my friend, who I trusted to know what to do next, she approached the nurses and boldly walked back into that dark room to reveal the truth about what no one else dared to report. Surprisingly, five or so hospital staff entered the room to hear the story, and threatened to have the priest thrown in jail if he beat the man again.
I knew I would dare go back to visit, as I assumed I would be ran out and was not sure it would be the wisest decision. Although in my heart I knew it was not us that caused a scene, it was the perspective in my mind that we had stirred up trouble. However, when my friend, “Life”, asked me to go again with her this morning, I found myself willingly saying, “Of course.” She was eager to check on the man and see what became of him overnight.
Today was a different day. It was quiet and calm. It felt much more peaceful. Our friend was awake with a smile on her face and eager to go home. She was talkative and lucid and recounted details to us of the man being beaten again last night when there were fewer staff. The priest was gone when we got there. The man was sitting up in bed and eating a snack. And the empty-eyed man was apologizing for the previous day. My sweet friend sat with both of these men, hearing parts of their stories. The man who was beaten said he remembered us, but for the most part did not make sense when he was speaking. The other man who had urged us to leave, told of how his step-mother beat him and cause him great mental disturbance. His father who cares for him, he is very close with, and asked my friend the psychologist if she could come back later to meet him. Without hesitating, she agreed to come back on her own time after work.
There was no doubt the enemy was at work, but as I asked the Father after we left the hospital the first day, to use the events to his glory and to be every present in that room, and to drive out all evil sp*rits. It was so dark that day, I wasn’t sure what was going to become of it when we returned. But the Father is faithful. He opened hearts, he turned a dark place to a place of peace, and he opened up opportunities for relationships. As always, it is HE who prevails.