International Ministries

For The Love Of A Friend

May 5, 2011 Story

Nancy and Stephen James

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It was late at night in the recently improvised crowded Cholera Treatment Unit in northern Haiti. “Doctor Steve, come quickly, we can’t get an IV started on this man!” Ebenezer Community Health Center nurse, Yolande, called out. Cholera patients, in various degrees of shock, were filling the rooms, the hallways, the porches, and now spilling out into the makeshift tent outside.

Leaving a patient on whom I was in the midst of starting an IV, I rushed over to where Yolande and Nurse Anne were working. I found a severely dehydrated young man having just arrived at the Center after suffering vomiting and diarrhea for only the past 6 hours. He was completely unresponsive and appearing to me not to be breathing. Neither could I feel a pulse.

“It’s too late for him, Yolande,” I said, thinking of those waiting for us to get IV fluids started on them who were still breathing. We needed to keep working fast to try to save whatever lives we could. “No! Dr. Steve, he’s still breathing! This is Ben, a friend of ours! We must try to save him!” cried Yolande. I looked carefully again. Sure enough, I counted 4 almost imperceptible breaths per minute.

We three started looking almost frantically for any vein we could find. “Pray and keep praying!” I said to the nurses, as I was doubting in my heart that we could actually save Ben. In the last few days, we had seen so many at this stage of dehydration arrive too late to survive. As Anne and Yolande worked on each arm, I started looking for a vein on Ben’s neck. Then in a few minutes, each of the nurses shouted in joy, “I’ve got a line!”

I looked over and saw that the caliber of the needles were so small, I doubted again that we could get enough fluids into Ben fast enough to save his life. But just getting not only one line but two lines going was a miracle. Anne and Yolande each squeezed the plastic bottles containing the life-giving fluids as hard as they could as I succeeded in getting a third line going under Ben’s right clavicle. For the next 30 minutes, the three of us squeezed and prayed that Jesus would save this young man’s life, abandoning ourselves to God’s will. Suddenly, Ben’s eyes opened wide with confusion and wonder. Ben was back among us, again! We, three thanked and praised Him together as we turned to continue working on the others around in need.

Later that night, in the lull of the wee hours before sunrise, as we were mopping up the vomit and diarrhea in the tent outside, I looked up to see Yolande and Anne continuing to labor over prostrate patients in backbreaking love for their fellow Haitian brothers and sisters in need.

In the nearby city of Cap Haitian, there exists a statue of several soldiers at the site of a famous revolutionary war battle called Vertieres, where the almost weaponless army of Haiti, former slaves, won the decisive battle against the French army of Napoleon giving Haiti her independence over two hundred years ago.

Leaning on the mop, I looked at Yolande and Anne, and thought of these brave young women, of their faith and love for Jesus. I thought, too, of so many other Haitian men and women of faith, working so hard and so self-sacrificially, not just here at the Ebenezer Health Center, but all over Haiti these past few weeks as they rose to meet the cholera challenge and crisis of their people.

“Yolande, Anne, you know what I hope to see someday in Haiti?” I called out to them, as the roosters started crowing. “What, doc?” they called back to me. “I hope to see a monument in Haiti, like the Vertieres monument, that shows Haitian women and men, nurses, construction people, common people reaching out in loving service to their Haitian sisters and brothers suffering from the earthquake and cholera epidemic of 2010”.

Before going home for a rest, the sun rising over the Haut Limbé hills, I went to see Ben, awake now with a blood pressure and pulse, IV fluids continuing to pour into him, his family giving him sips of oral rehydration salt solution to drink. “Ben, you are a miracle,” I said. “I had given you up for dead. But I believe Jesus saw Yolande and Anne’s love for you, their faith and perseverance and heard our prayers and He saved you!” I took his hand as I turned to leave, saying, “Maybe God has work for you in this life, Ben, in building His Kingdom. Remember, He loves you and is your Savior in all ways.” Ben gazed up at me in a weak but beautiful smile.