What comes to mind when you think of the work in a rural clinic in South Sudan?
If you asked the county government what SIM is doing with the clinic, they would likely tell you it serves the people of Mabaan with much needed healthcare. They might cite how rural the area is and how essential the services are. They might list the surrounding communities that come to access the clinic and its reputation in the region for excellence.
But, while excellence in service is a high objective, it is only part of the picture. You need to step inside the clinic to see what’s really happening.
A previous clinic manager called it a, “church planting clinic.” I’ll show you why.
People present at the clinic with all sorts of ailments. But sometimes people come with headaches, stomach aches or a variety of other ailments, only to find out that there is nothing physically wrong with them…
Their souls are hurting. They're carrying around pain that puts their stomachs in knots; they’re shouldering traumas that wear out the soul. And part of this clinic’s work is to diagnose those spiritual ailments.
In the nearby refugee camp, Martha [name changed] has shouldered many such pains. She was sitting at her mother’s funeral when her son went to the borehole and didn’t return. Compounding her grief, he was later found dead. Subsequent intertribal fighting in the region also left her husband dead. A pregnant Martha, in her grief, felt the only thing to do was to hang herself. People found her before she did and took her to the hospital. But, unable to treat her, they just kept her in the waiting room.
Word of her heartbreaking situation reached the chaplains at the SIM clinic and they went to meet her. They brought her to the clinic to council and pray with her. In addition to attending the prenatal clinic in the maternity department, Martha met and trusted the great Healer.
Woven into the very vision of the clinic is the mission of pointing to God.
Many come to the clinic looking for healing and some of them have issues that are not fundamentally physical in nature. They want to be made well and they are finding that God is their only hope for that.
Whether by a chaplain’s listening ear or by excellence in medical service, people are brushing up against the tangible hands and feet of God. They are hearing the message: “There is a place for all your fears and pains. There is a place for you here in God’s home.”
And the church is growing.
People file into humble sanctuaries before the service and ask, “Is this seat taken?” Voices get added to the choir in praise to God. For all its effort to treat physical ailments, our greatest joy is seeing people encounter God and that Jesus’ name is whispered in communities where He is least known.
On paper SIM runs a clinic, in reality our desire is nothing short of seeing God grow his church. When the clinic doors swing open for another day, those walking through will get to see it firsthand.
Recent insecurities and natural disasters have weighed down many South Sudanese hearts. Pray that God would heal the losses they are experiencing.