These are the words that kept running through my mind while I was holding the hand of a little girl laying in a hospital bed in Tanzania.
I (Elizabeth) have wanted to travel to Tanzania with Twelve21 Global since the fall of 2019 after my best friend told me about her experiences on a mission trip that summer. She returned from her mission trip with a transformed heart and a new understanding of sharing the good news. So naturally, I wanted what she had and immediately signed up. But then, world events happened, and 3 years later, in 2022, I finally had the privilege of joining a medical team in Tanzania with Twelve21 Global.
Being a nurse, I had great expectations of helping hundreds of people with their health needs and seeing hearts turn to the Lord. Instead, after the first day working in the clinic triage, I felt numb listening to person after person explain why they came to the clinic. Hearing how long these patients have been dealing with their sufferings was heartbreaking. In this community, the need for basic health care is great, and the need for long-term healthcare is even greater.
On the second day of the clinic, a mother and her 4-year-old little girl sat in front of me. As my translator and I ask how we can help, the mother begins to tell us how this little girl has not eaten or drank anything for 4 days and has been vomiting for two days. I looked at the little girl and saw a face full of pain and hopelessness. She was malnourished, only responding to questions with one-word whispers, and getting weaker by the minute. Her mother was frustrated and upset that her child was vomiting, while her face showed a disconnection to her child’s suffering.
My little patient went on to see the Doctor, and I tried to keep an eye on her as she moved from station to station at the clinic.
After seeing her vomit for the second time while at the clinic, I picked her up, and we had to discuss how we could help this little girl. The resources at the clinic were not enough to make her well, and her mother was not equipped to take care of her at home. I knew if she went home with her mother that night, she might never get better. The Doctor explained that this mother was known in the community to be a disconnected mother who chose her addiction over her child’s health and well-being. It was a miracle she was even brought to the clinic that her mother waited for hours in the sun for a chance to be seen. Yusuph, the president of Twelve21, was made aware of how sick this little girl was, and he immediately made arrangements for transportation to the hospital.
While at the hospital with this little girl, Yusuph challenged me to ask the Lord why I was given this experience. Why this little girl came to my triage station? Why I felt led to help this patient? Tears came to my eyes as Yusuph explained that this little girl’s situation was not uncommon and that there were countless other children in her same situation.
A hopeless feeling rushed over me, but Immediately I heard Jesus speak to my heart, “this one.” A sense of love for this child rushed over me; it was overwhelming. I wanted to make her better, take away all her pain and give her all the love she had been missing in her 4 short years of life. I knew I felt the Father’s love for this child. How much greater did the Lord want His child to be free from pain and suffering? I felt privileged at that moment to feel a fraction of how the Lord’s heart breaks for His people who don’t know His name. I felt privileged to partner with Jesus in having a burdened heart for the broken and hurting.
As I fought back the tears, the hope of Jesus began to minister to my heart. 1 Peter 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” True hope comes from the man Jesus; He is our great rescuer and redeemer. Partnering with Jesus is a privilege, being his hands and feet and allowing our hearts to be burned with what burdens His heart.
I was living out Matthew 18:10-14, the parable of the lost sheep, leaving the 99 to find the one. In this parable, we are to be burdened with finding the lost one and rejoice when they are found and rescued. This little girl, Emmy, in front of me was found; God is good. I left the hospital smiling, knowing this little girl was safe, cared for, and most importantly, loved.
After Emmy was released from the Hospital, I (Yusuph) called for a meeting with the local government leaders and the pastor of a local church, and we met for the sake of Emmy. Long story short, God intervened, and legal papers were processed to find Emmy a safe home where she would be loved and cared for. Next month she will be enrolled in our Bukabwa school and begin kindergarten in January 2023. Then, by God’s grace, we will have the joy to disciple and watching her grow into the woman God intends her to be.
Twelve21 Global brings hope to vulnerable children through a Christ-centered education that intends to prepare them to live purposefully in the service of God and man (Acts 13:36, Ephesians 2:10, 1 Peter 4:10-11). There are 25 students like Emmy in our school right now that need someone to sponsor them with a gift of $38 a month. Would you prayerfully consider investing in a child’s life in Tanzania and watching them grow into the person God intends them to be?
Click the link below to learn about our Sponsorship Program.
Your gift is an investment to reach the darkest areas of the world with the Light of God’s Word.