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Healing through Community

Healing through Community

SPRING/SUMMER 2019    |    3.5  MINUTE  READ    |    DR. ANDREA PARKER


Diana has a beautiful smile, but it was months before I was able to see it. Her smile is not one of naivete or ignorance or denial. Her smile is that of someone who knows the love of God in a real way.

During Diana’s first few weeks at Tenwek Hospital, we began to hear parts of her story. She had been injured by a man who was not her husband, as she was not married. And it was not the first time—she had old scars. We prayed for her on our team rounds and spent time with her later. We felt a deep desire for her to know her worth, both to us and to a God who loves her with an incomprehensibly immense love. We wanted her to know that she was deeply cherished. Over the course of those few weeks, she came to know the radical love of Jesus who cares so profoundly for each of us.

I first met Diana when she was admitted to Tenwek Hospital in August with severe head injuries, deep cuts through the skin and bone such that the brain was visible, as well as multiple other deep cuts and injuries to her back and arms and amputation of two of her fingers. These were violent injuries, clearly meant to cause serious damage or death.

Diana's wounds went deeper than the severe head injuries and deep cuts that were visable.

As her wounds were washed and repaired, we began to see the severity of her nonphysical wounds. She struggled to eat, was tearful, would not make eye contact, rarely spoke, and relied on her sister to answer questions (I did not even realize she spoke English). These wounds could not be sewn together and repaired in a few hours’ time in an operating room.

As we eventually began to make plans for her discharge from the hospital, we had questions. Was it safe for her to return home? Did she have a community to support her? How could she better understand who Jesus is and how God can work in her life?

Some of those who ministered to Diane and her family

Before Diana left the hospital, I reached out to WGM missionary Linda Spriegel and to Peris Rotich, the two women who began Tabitha Ministry. Tabitha started out of a home Bible study and has grown to a network of thousands of women learning the Bible and caring for one another. As women from Tabitha visited Diana, including WGM missionary Julie Ganey, they were able to share personal experiences and situations to encourage Diana in her newfound faith. They spent hours with her, acknowledging her trauma, allowing her to talk and process the situation, and hearing her fears. They prayed, shared Scripture, and sang songs with Diana before her discharge. Arrangements were made for women from a Tabitha group nearby to visit Diana at her home. I am so very grateful for the time these women spent pouring into the life of another woman.

A few months after Diana left the hospital, Julie, Peris, and I had the opportunity to visit Diana in her home along with several women from Tabitha who had joined us at various points on Diana’s journey. We met her parents and children and had a beautiful time of hearing Diana’s story. She related that in the moment she was escaping her abuser, fearing for her life, she cried out to God that He would forgive her and forgive the man hurting her. She said she had heard about Jesus all her life but had never known Him until she was in the hospital.

Diana's beautiful smile

Diana and her family told us of the many ways in which God intervened on her behalf that day and the way He has changed her life since. She talked about God’s work in her life, including the way that He has miraculously taken away her fear, nightmares, anger, bitterness, and shame. We shared chai and songs and prayer and hugs.

I will not pretend to understand why these things happen or why sometimes evil seems to prevail in this world. Nor do I want to naively overlook or simplify the trauma that Diana or others have experienced. But I do know that God’s work in her life is obvious. It’s through the community forged in settings like the Tabitha Ministry that healing comes to those in the body of Christ. The love shared through this vibrant and caring community brought Diana’s smile back to her face. And thanks to the love shown to Diana, I was able to realize just how beautiful her smile is.

Statistics about the Tabatha Ministry

Dr. Andrea Parker lives and works with her husband, Dr. Bob Parker, and daughter, Madison, at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya. You can find them online at www.facebook.com/tenwekparker.

ACTION STEPS

PRAY: Tabitha Ministry can lift women out of poverty and difficult circumstances. Pray for leaders who will encourage, empower, and teach these women about the love of God.

GO: This ministry began 13 years ago as one Bible study. Now, with over 2,000 women meeting weekly, we see so many women who are eager to be discipled to become like Christ. If you want to join the work happening in Kenya, visit www.wgm.org/kenya.

GIVE: Just $8 can buy a Bible for a woman who does not yet have access to one. Or $250 can help build a home for a family involved with this ministry. Learn how you can use the money God has entrusted to you by giving to the Tabitha Ministry at www.wgm.org/tabitha.

The Call (Spring/Summer 2019)

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