On Wednesday we welcomed a bunch of folks for an evening of prayer and celebration - the re-dedication of our rennovated JSK In-Patient Care unit.
What a privilege to have such wide variety of folks come - people who have been with Jeevan Sahara Kendra as supporters from when we started up 11 years ago, people living with HIV - who may be admitted here sometime in the future, people from local churches, family members of staff, folks who have attended our trainings, Bethany hospital leaders... and of course the JSK staff family too!
We gathered to pray and thank God for what He has done so far.
Dr. Stephen Alfred gave a moving challenge based on the great move of God among the Israelites at the time of Nehemiah - a radical change that was centered on devotion to God - and which culminated in the amazing truth that 'the joy of the Lord is your strength.' How much we have seen that over the years.
Sheba shared about 4 key patients whom we were able to care for in different ways - a skeletal man who was brought back from death's door - an abandoned woman who the local govt. hospital had sent home to die from her tuberculosis, but who is very much alive and kicking today - a young orphan girl who is dying of what is likely to be a cancer, but who is being helped in palliation - and a young unmarried woman who gave birth to her child and looked after him for 2 months while we gave anti-HIV treatment, and once it was clear the child was negative, gave him for adoption.
Each life we at Jeevan Sahara Kendra are called to be part of is precious. And it is a joy to be in a place where people with HIV who are sick can be treated with love and dignity.
And so before we knew it, we were lined up in the corridor, before the big yellow door which has served to keep the dust of the construction away during the long months of the rennovation.
But this time we were having a dedication prayer - a plea to God by bro KV Simon - to let this place be a place of blessing and healing.
And we know that God answers prayers.
During his comments, Dr. Stephen mentioned meeting an elderly couple who pray for Jeevan Sahara Kendra daily. He is 95. She a sprightly 93. They were missionaries in Jharkhand and keep all things India close to their hearts. We are reaping the blessings of their faithful intercession.
A new world awaits.
Its an honour for us that one of our dearest families who are living with HIV are the first to pull open the big temporary yellow doors and walk into the rennovated portion.
We are so proud of our friends - about the courageous steps they are taking as Positive People. It is our privilege to walk along side them on their journey - and to have this place ready for them if and when they fall sick and need hospitalisation is such a great blessing.
Because despite all the benefits that Anti-Retroviral Therapy gives to people living with HIV, people still fall sick. Preliminary data from our most recent biennial survey shows that of the 217 people with HIV who we have surveyed so far - 81% reported some kind of illness event in the previous 30 days! That is a huge disease burden - one that can mainly be dealt with at home - but among the 81% are people for whom hospitalisation will really help - and in some cases it will save their lives!
Which is why we have a beautiful place like this where we can care for people with HIV when they are sick enough to need 24 hour medical care. This is our new female ward - big enough to house 4 ladies!
The people in the room - not the shiny floors and the clean bedsheets - are the ones that God uses as His primary agents of healing and change.
Our job is to faithfully continue in the path He draws for us. And to 'spur each other on to love and good deeds.'
Two members of a church in Airoli were with us - they had just come from a programme where they were helping people waterproof their huts as the monsoonal onslaught has started - and have buried a man 2 weeks ago who died of AIDS. This church continues to look after the man's HIV positive widow and children too. We are humbled to be able to serve folks like this!
And so the evening disintegrated into a happy muddle of conversations - while the Jeevan Sahara staff and volunteers weaved in and out, serving snacks and fizzy drinks.
It's something that each member of the Jeevan Sahara team does so well: serving.
And once again our team served others - showing their love in action.
A warm welcome it was.
A very warm welcome on a cold rainy monsoonal night in Thane.