International Ministries

God is Good

December 11, 2002 Journal

We have great news.God has been very good again, and working a little magic.You may want to read our last journal so you can have some background for this one.You may remember from that journal that we were ready to close the TB program, despite that there are many, many people dying from TB.But we felt the present program was too ineffective, a poor Christian witness, and too frustrating for Deb to keep pushing.Deb and I had been waking about 3:00 am many mornings for the past month, praying and asking the Lord what to do with this TB program.We finally put together a reform plan that we felt would resolve these problems but the plan that would have to be approved by the local health director, the district health dept, and the provincial health dept.We were not at all sure they would approve. In this program, we are required to cooperate directly with the government health authorities.

One important condition of our plan was that we have free rein to treat children, which we had so far been severely restricted in doing.We considered it a great weakness in the program to be allowed only to treat adults with TB in a family but not their infected children.

We arranged to first present the plan to Awn, the local health director, a certain afternoon.Earlier in the day, Deb had a meeting with the district health authorities on an unrelated matter.The district hospital had requested that we send one of their staff to be trained how to use x-ray equipment and how to read x-rays.While Deb was meeting with them, negotiating the training terms, the provincial TB head honcho called right during the meeting.He had just learned of the training negotiations and he was livid.He talked to Deb on the phone and really chewed her out for going over his head, and said she was always causing him trouble.He unexpectedly raised the issue of us treating children for TB, and was quite angry about that too, something about Deb going over his head.Deb was shocked and hardly knew what to say.We have long had an uneasy relationship with the province, and they had only given us permission to operate the TB program because national authorities had pressured them to do so.But still we weren't even sure what we had done wrong this time.This was only hours before we were to present our TB reform plan to Awn, his subordinate.

That very morning, before Deb had gone to her meeting, during my devotions I happened to be reading about King Hezekiah in II Kings 19.When Hezekiah received the Assyrian commander's doomsday letter for Jerusalem, Hezekiah spread the letter out in front of the Lord in the temple and prayed the prayer in verses 15 to 19.When I read Hezekiah's prayer, I thought of the TB program and how bureaucracy, pettiness, and corruption were dooming the program.I immediately re-wrote the prayer, asking the Lord to deliver the TB program from the authorities' hands, and that the TB program would become one that would show to the population here that God was the God of heaven and earth, and of Mesang.

Then Deb came home and told me about the phone call.At first I was sure we should delay the whole plan, or even scrap it.It seemed unlikely the TB chief would approve our new TB plan now.Then I remembered the "Hezekiah" prayer I had written.I got it out and read it to the Lord.Deb and I walked and prayed for the next hour, trying to figure what to do.Our meeting with Awn was only two hours away.We decided to present the plan anyway to him.And then to immediately call the angry provincial TB chief and request a meeting to discuss our differences, apologize for anything we had done wrong, and then present the reform plan to him also.We were a bit anxious but felt confident that all was in God's hands.

Awn was clearly uncomfortable with parts of the plan, but said he would think about it for a few days.We diplomatically but firmly stated we would not continue the program if he found the reforms too difficult to agree to.

Right after meeting with Awn, Deb phoned the provincial TB chief.Lo and behold, he was a different man.Since Deb's earlier phone conversation with him, which had occurred only a few hours before, he had received a letter from the national TB dept approving our offer to train the district x-ray man (a TB worker it turned out).He had not understood that it was the district who made the original request to us, nor that we were paying for the training expenses.He had assumed we were trying to manipulate his staff so as to train someone of our choice without informing him.When he realized his error, he was rather apologetic and agreed to meet Deb and talk about their differences.Two days later they met.He was rather conciliatory. Deb apologized for whatever we thought he might be angry about.He quickly agreed to every reform we wanted.And that was not all.They were able to talk honestly about an incident, which had greatly embarrassed and angered him years before that he still held against us.Our relationship with this influential official is now more pleasant.

A few days later Deb met with the District health director.He began by insisting that our most important reform condition was entirely unnecessary. And then something happened that does not usually happen.One of his underling doctors (who hasn't been particularly supportive of us in the past) spoke up and voiced his opinion that he thought our request reasonable and medically sound.The director, not being a doctor himself, backed off and dropped his arguments.We got everything!With all his superiors agreeing to our proposed reforms, Awn, the local director we work directly with, said he would go along with the reforms.


Now we ask for your prayers.The reforms are under way.And they depend very much on a certain staff change.We have placed a Christian man in a key position, which we must admit is not quite as qualified as we would like. But we feel God had led the selection process to him, and we admit he has a few very good qualities.Because he is a Christian and comes from a background of poverty and poor education, the non-Christian staff, including the government staff, will look down on him.He's going to need lots of prayers to learn the ropes, and to persevere.It will be an uphill battle.Not all will quickly cooperate with him.His name is Mr. Ooun.And there will be many other changes soon. Please also pray for wisdom for Deb and myself.I handle the administration and Deb takes care of the medical training.