When poverty leads to death

Posted by on Apr 21, 2012 in Church Planting | 0 comments

When poverty leads to death

Sot, a 65 year old grandmother, almost starved to death. Her family are poor but they are able to keep food on the table. The problem is that Sot has had several hospital stays over the last couple of years; the last one being only a couple of months ago. The family sold farmland to pay the expensive medical costs.

Several years ago, Sot allowed church planters to use her front yard as the venue for outreach activities. These activities were closed down by the village leader before my involvement in Baset. Sot hadn’t become a Christian but I continue some contact with Sot and tell her stories of Jesus from time to time.

Now Sot was sick again. I visited her on 13 April and found her thin and weak. She complained of stomach problems and hadn’t been able to eat anything for several days. Being Khmer New Year, I figured we had to see her through the holiday and then if God didn’t miraculously intervene, get her to hospital. We prayed for her and bought a dozen small UHT packets of milk. On 15 April, I saw her again and was shocked at how much worse she was. She was wasting away before our eyes. She was so weak, she could only whisper a few words before needing to rest a while. We prayed again.

Sot has a young relative who has just graduated from medical school. Being Khmer New Year, she was in the village. I enlisted her help in convincing the family of the severity of Sot’s situation and the need to get her to medical attention.

A few days later, I asked about Sot and discovered that she was still at home, very close to death and the only medical help she was receiving was from the local doctor who put her on a drip. They also had Buddhist pre-death chanting being performed for her.

I couldn’t know about this and do nothing. I figured that it was a financial issue that kept her family from taking her to hospital and determined that Sot’s life was worth whatever it might cost me to get her treated. I prayed that it wouldn’t be too late.

I enlisted the help of Samat, the young doctor, and yesterday we went to Baset despite the family still saying they wouldn’t agree to take her to hospital. It took over an hour and many assurances that they wouldn’t be financially burdened before they agreed with the plan. We then waited for the local doctor to provide another saline drip, had a few men carry Sot into the back of my ute and then set off along the longer but smoother dirt road back to Phnom Penh.

We were able to get Sot registered in the principal government hospital as a near death case of extreme poverty, which is the only situation in which medical care is almost free. I paid the admission fee of $15 and will continue to pay the food costs for Sot’s sister as she does the patient care, which is not provided by nursing staff in this part of the world. I’m amazed that in the end the financial outlay is so little and that for so little, Sot would have been left to die.

Once in hospital, an endoscope determined that she had a stomach ulcer, a feeding tube brought nourishment bypassing the ulcer and by this morning, she was picking up.

Please pray that Sot makes a full recovery back to strength and that even her chronic conditions of diabetes, heart problems and brittle bones will be healed. Pray also that she will fully trust Jesus as her Lord.

A few hours ago, one of the Christians in Baset told me about another medical need that was rending his heart. I don’t know much about it yet but it seems to be a 24 year old woman in dire poverty with some strange fever. I may be making another hospital run tomorrow, but wouldn’t be great if God healed her before then!



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