At the start of this year we had our covenant service. At this service we look back over the past year, giving thanks for all of God’s blessings and also look forward to the coming year, re-committing ourselves to God’s service. There will be new challenges ahead for the church – as this is the last year of our minister David’s ministry with us, we will have 2 retiring Deacons in May plus our Treasurer Karen will be moving to Cornwall in the summer. So there is lots to pray about but we are confident that God will show us the right way forward, in one way or another. We pray for his guidance and we pray that, in 2020, the Abbey Centre will continue to achieve its purpose – to serve the social and spiritual needs of people in South Northampton. Amen!
Over Christmas we has a wonderful series of events at the Abbey Centre. The chapel hosted a magical evening of singing performed by the kids from MAD Club. We had a couple of services where people shared a wide range of stories about the real meaning of Christmas – one of which was our ‘Carols by Candlelight’ hosted by members of our drama group ACT. On Christmas eve we shared a ‘hunger lunch’ at noon, giving donations to Christian aid. At midnight on Christmas eve we shared midnight communion and welcomed in Christmas day singing carols. On Christmas day our local hero Pat and her team of helpers fed and entertained a large number of people from the local community who would have otherwise spent their Christmas day alone. We give thanks that Christmas 2019 was one that we will always remember as something special.
Sunday 13th October 2019
This morning we had a visit from our BMS mission worker Claire, who works as a pharmacist in a hospital in one of the world’s poorest countries – Chad. Claire shared with us stories of the great work that she and her colleagues from the BMS are doing in Chad, bringing healthcare to an area where it is desperately needed and also sharing the messages of God’s love, as shown in Jesus, whenever they can. The church supports Claire financially, with our prayers and also by sending her letters, emails and Christmas cards. It was wonderful to meet her in person and hear about her life and work first-hand. Below are the slides she shared with us:
Here we have the initial x-rays of 9 year old Mahamat. He was walking along the road when he was hit by a motorbike and he fractured his femur, his upper leg bone, of his left leg. Surgery for this type of fracture is available at other hospitals in N’Djamena but often the patients have to wait days or weeks for it to happen. As hospital stays in all hospitals in Chad are charged by the day, this means that patients rack up large bills even before they have their surgery (and the associated cost with that). It also means a lot of discomfort for the patient and worry for the patient and their relatives.
Fortunately though, Mht’s father had heard of Guinebor Hospital and so he was brought to us. They were met with a kind and loving welcome and Mht’s leg was operated on within days of his arrival. Kalbassou, our Cameroonian nurse-surgeon, does the vast majority of our orthopaedic surgery. He operated on Mht’s leg and inserted a metal rod. Staff offered to pray with Mht and his father. They experienced Christ’s love through the work of Guinebor Hospital.
So here we have the post-op xray of Mht’s leg, showing the metal rod that was inserted. It shows good bone alignment and Mht’s bones should heal well with this rod in place. He’ll walk with crutches for a few months, have another xray and if the bone is healing well, the road will be taken out. Mht’s story is just one of hundreds that I could have told you of the kind of people that pass through the doors of Guinebor Hospital.
So why send a pharmacist to Chad?! There’s an absence of pharmacist training in Chad (no university, all pharmacists are trained outside the country and some don’t return). Also, the broad leadership skills and attention to detail that are inherent in most pharmacists trained in the UK can add capacity to the hospital management team of which I am a part.
In the background of all the surgical and medical care provided by the doctors and nurses there are many other areas of the hospital, largely unseen, without which the hosp wouldn’t function. Trying to keep on top of the demands for medicines and medical supplies (such as sutures for the operating theatre, plaster of Paris for all the broken bones as a result of motorbike accidents, cannulas, urinary catheters, IV giving sets) is a full time job in itself, let alone making sure that each area of the hospital has enough supplies given to them for their day-to-day work and dispensing all the prescriptions for the day patients and those patients being discharged from the inpatient area.
Supply chains for medicines in Chad are weak, but I like to buy as much as I can in country to support the local economy rather than importing lots from the UK or USA. We can usually find everything we need in Ndjamena but it takes a lot of work and a lot of to-ing and fro-ing to collect supplies (only one of our suppliers delivers and that’s the most expensive supplier).
Here’s a selfie taken with my pharmacy colleagues, in the remodelled pharmacy! One person was missing as she was off sick at the time. Those of you who have followed my time at Guinebor closely will notice the increase in pharmacy staff. As of last October, the pharmacy is now open 24/7. So we therefore had to have more staff! Please pray for Audrey, the Chadian head of pharmacy (guy in navy at the back looking serious) and me as we train these new staff. It’s a long process and obviously an important one.
So, without a well stocked pharmacy, we wouldn’t be able to accurately and easily treat the hundreds of patients who come through the doors every month. An example of a patient who was treated at Guinebor with the latest recommended treatment, that’s not easy to find in Chad, was Moussa
Here we have 3 year old Moussa with his father. Moussa came to hospital semi-comatose, with a fever, vomiting and no appetite. He had a low haemoglobin and his malaria test was positive. Moussa was treated with first-line IV anti-malarial drugs, painkillers and he also had a blood transfusion. This photo shows Moussa on day 3 of his hospital stay. He had responded well to the IV malaria treatment, was alert, his Hb had increased and he was eating and drinking small amounts regularly. He was converted over to oral treatment for his malaria and the photo shows Yangue the nurse taking out the IV cannula that was in his foot. Removing the cannula is always a happy occasion as it means no more injections and also signals that the patient is getting better! Moussa was brought to Guinebor because he doesn’t live very far away. It’s great that there are a lot of people living close by the hospital who can benefit from its services. Local people use the hospital but many travel large distances to have treatment there because of its good reputation.
- I’d just like to touch on the spiritual health aspects of the work at G2
- The hospital really is a light in the spiritual darkness
- The need for Christian outreach is huge in Chad
- Guinebor II Hospital is one of only 3 overtly Christian hospitals in all of N’Djamena and it’s the only protestant one
- Guinebor II is a Muslim dominant suburb of Ndjamena – 5 mosques in a mile radius, nearest church is 5 miles away
- It’s the work of all Christian staff at the hospital to show Christ’s love to our patients and demonstrate our faith in a practical way
- However for Million and Bizuneh, Ethiopian mission workers who are both pastors, this goes a step further and it’s their full time jobs. This work includes:
- Visits to patients at home
- Speaking with patients on wards and answers questions
- Showing Jesus film and other pertinent films in caregiver village next to hospital
- Bibles and SD cards to give away
Top left – Spears family arriving January 2020 – Tom is a GP, Mel a public health specialist. Top right – Shrubsole family arriving January 2020 – Gareth is a project manager and will be great asset in the day to day management of G2, Bethan is a music and art therapist, will work with another project in N’Djamena. Bottom – Brian and Jackie Chilvers arriving Sept 2020 – both nurses
Sunday 29th September 2019
This morning we had our Harvest Sunday service. We gave thanks for all of the food and drink that we enjoy on a daily basis and we remembered and prayed for those people, all over the world, who are hungry – particularly focusing on people in rural parts of Nepal, who are being helped to develop clean water supplies and sustainable means of food production by Operation Agri. We watched this video:
Members of the church brought offerings of food to the service, which were then donated to one of our local food banks.
This was our communion prayer:
Father God we thank you for all the wonders of nature that you have given us on this beautiful planet that we inhabit. We live in a world of plenty and for that we are very grateful. We thank you that you continue to give us our daily bread, we thank you for all of the wonderful variety of food and drink available to us. We thank you for plants, animals, for sunshine, for rain and for the earth itself – which is like a mother to us, nourishing us and holding us in its arms.
We thank you for all of the people involved in producing our food and for all of the many hands that have taken part in getting our food and drink to us.
Dostoyevsky once said “to want bread for yourself is a physical need, to want bread for your brother is a spiritual need”. We also thank you today for all of those people who have felt and responded to your holy spirit by wanting bread for their brothers and sisters and by taking action, not just to feed the hungry but, even more importantly, to help them feed themselves. We thank you for the work of organisations like Operation Agri and many others who selflessly work to eradicate hunger in our world today.
We pray also for anyone who is hungry today and ask for your blessing on them that they might receive not just the food they need but also the spiritual food that will give them real life.
We thank you for the greatest food you have ever given us – your Son Jesus Christ, the “bread of heaven”…. a man, who like the small seed bore a great bounty of fruits throughout the last two thousand years and all across the earth today. We pray that we might be a part of that bounty and that we might all show the fruits of your holy spirit in our own lives.
Finally we thank you for the food and drink on the table before us today – the bread and the wine, the body and blood of your son Jesus, given for us so that we might know you.