Pull up a seat, grab a hot beverage and enjoy this story from our recent trip to Southeast Asia!
The Last Patient
Shifa’ was the last patient before the doctors took a break for lunch. Before the midday break on a very warm day in this coastal fishing village, more than 200 hundred patients had received health counseling, been prayed with, and been cared for in our medical clinic. As the team was leaving for a break, Shifa’ came to Royal, a physician and close friend who has been leading our clinics for more than a decade, with a complaint of severe back pain and a few other ailments. After Royal, in his compassionate manner prayerfully attended to her needs, he prayed with her after asking for any other concerns she might have.Though Shifa’ was silent about her hidden ailment, the elderly women sitting closely around her opened up to me about Shifa’ after all others had left to eat.
Slowly, at first, as they watched my reaction, then with growing energy as they realized I did not disregard their stories, these women whose ages were clear through the deep lines in their animated faces told me story upon story of Shifa’s spirit possession. From the age of twelve, Shifa’ has been oppressed for seventeen years by a spirit that overtakes her body and transforms her into a sea creature. A bit shamed at first by these attacks, Shifa’ found comfort in sharing about the fear she felt after each event. The comfort faded, though, when the women spoke of how they fought the possession through incantations and Qur’anic mantras which seemed to only temporarily work. To these women whose concern for Shifa’ moved me, and to Shifa’ whose pain I could not begin to understand, I began to tell a new story. Sitting a few yards from the beach in this fishing village, I told them of Jesus falling asleep in a boat and as the boat entered a storm Jesus looked into the gale and with one word brought immediate calm, abrupt peace. This same Jesus then got out of the boat and looked in the eyes of a man horribly possessed by more spirits than the afflicted man could easily count. Again, with a word from Jesus, these spirits were forcibly removed from the man and thrown into a herd of pigs (at this these women laughed with appreciation). To these women I said, this Jesus is the only one who has true and lasting power over any spirit. Their cantations may temporarily appease, but only Jesus has true, lasting power. To Shifa’ I said we would be in their village all day, and if she wanted us to share more about Jesus and to pray with her, to go find her husband and bring him with her to us and we would pray together.
Within minutes our team, with the doctors and the outstanding short-term team from BIOLA, returned from lunch and we were soon overwhelmed by the largest crowd we have ever loved on in one day. By the power and mercy of God we cared for over 700 beautiful people, many having suffered years with severe and painful conditions. Through the commotion and seeming chaos of the mass of people I saw Shifa’ and her husband, Sirabi, hovering in and out of the crowd, waiting for an opening, a pause. As the tropical sun was setting, taking with it the heat of the afternoon, the final patients began to trickle out. In these final moments of calm, Shifa’ brought her husband to Royal to have his back pain checked. As with Shifa’, Royal gently asked Sirabi repeatedly if there were any other concerns that he wanted to share. His eyes said yes, but his head shook no. Sitting next to Sirabi, I shared with him what Shifa’ heard earlier about Jesus. I looked Sirabi in the eye and asked if we could pray for him and Shifa’ in the name of Jesus for them. With a physical response that revealed intense relief, Sirabi and Shifa’ leaned in close for prayer. I turned to Ann, our seventy-year old team member who loves Jesus more than retirement, and asked her to pray over, and with, Shifa’. Ann, with her kind hands, softly held the strong, young hands of Shifa’ and brought the beauty and power of Jesus upon Shifa’ through prayer. Tears filled the eyes of Shifa’ and Sirabi as they sought the power and healing of Jesus through prayer. After prayer, we shared that true healing comes through surrender and becoming a follower of Jesus and that we would love to be a part of telling them more what it means to follow Jesus. The night was upon us and Shifa’ had her four young children at her feet needing her full attention so the time of prayer ended.A few weeks have passed.
Then, yesterday a team member returned to this village for follow-up training with mothers on healthy family habits and there were Shifa’ and Sirabi. With excitement this young couple sought out Our team member to tell her Sirabi had been standing for hours along the edge of the highway, just waiting and hoping we would pass by! With joy they now saw our team member and wanted to know when we both could return to talk with them.
This is our request for you, pray for Sirabi and Shifa’. Pray as we meet they will seek Jesus with their whole heart and will be healed
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