Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Our supreme need

This week is a turning point for us.  Three of our dear friends, three amazing colleagues have stepped out of the HBM hospital, and Sheba and myself find ourselves in the position of being the Medical Superintendent and the hospital leader respectively.

Mr. Biju Mathew - who has for the past decade poured his heart and strength into building up HBM Hospital is as its administrator and leader is taking a 3 year leave of absence from our parent organisation EHA... and helping out another struggling mission hospital in South India.   Dr. Tony and Dr. Asangla Bishwas have been asked to take up the challenge of serving with a larger medical team at Chhattarpur Christian Hospital, our sister concern 3 hours away from us in Madhya Pradesh.

Biju Mathew sharing at Dr. Tony and Dr. Asangla's farewell this weekend - we already bid Biju and his wife Anu farewell 2 months ago,  She and the kids are at the school she is teaching at, while Biju came back to help us work out the transition 
It has been very hard to say good-bye to our friends.  My eyes have been moist many a time over these last few weeks.  And my heart carries the grief of separation.

And so we are two.  Our kids are far away from us in Mussoorie and back in Mumbai. We are in a large empty house.  And currently we have empty homes for neighbours: Biju and Anu's now empty home is next to us and opposite that is the home till recently occupied by sis. Sujatha, our nursing superintendent who moved at the beginning of this month.

Our hospital is currently being run with two doctors.  Sheba is now serving as the med superintendent and Catherine has joined us after finishing her MBBS from CMC Vellore.  They are on call every other day.  Last night there was a man admitted in a very poor condition - semi-conscious - a tribal man whom the big government hospital opposite us had discharged late at night and told to go to a bigger hospital in Jhansi - 100 kms away from us.  Sheba admitted him and prayed and treated.  Amazingly he is still alive and has started talking again.  Another tiny preterm baby was born and Sheba supervised the bagging to keep the child alive in our nursery.  A woman came after a miscarriage and Sheba helped her by performing a DNC.  Today she had her diabetic clinic and the waiting hall had the health teaching posters which we developed earlier in the year.   Our days are packed and yet we are on a fine line, working in a hospital which has gone through some very deep financial waters, with no clear end in sight.  Can we keep going in this way?  Will other doctors join us and move things forward?  So many questions...

Over the past few days, I have been trying to come to grips with the intricacies of hospital management.  As I step into this role of the acting SAO (for how long?) I am taken aback at all the different things that Biju has been doing to keep this ship sailing forward.  As it is I am less than happy about how we are faring with our community work in the villages, and now this...  a feel like a huge wave of different regulatory compliances, income tax assessments, stock and cash verifications and other sundry tasks is going to break over me and wash me out to the deep blue...

And yet, we are so blessed.  Monday night we gathered for our weekly prayer time and were joined by trainees from our Community Lay-leaders Health Training Course - a 20 day residential session for the year-long course that equips grass-root level folks to reach out to their communities through health promotion and simple cures.  Amazing to see how God has helped us start this up here at HBM this year.  Today I went over and talked to 30 young people who will be interning with us this year as part of their practical social work experience from the Lalitpur Bible Seminary.  What potential each young life has.

The work remains massive.  So many possibilities - so many opportunities - so many challenges.  Over the last week there have been a number of times when I felt very, very overwhelmed.  The old hymn comes very much to mind:

We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,
And needing more each day Thy grace to know

And yet in all of the turmoil, we do have hope.  We are being shaped into something else.  Not quite the way we expected it, and with so much more to go, but God is clearly at work.

We want to share with you, gentle reader, one of the many gems from Geraldine Taylor - a pioneering missionary to China (who married Dr. Howard Taylor - Hudson Taylor's son - and wrote the classic book Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret).  While speaking in 1901 in New Orleans, Geraldine Taylor said this which speaks directly into our hearts these days:

"At a time of conference, we cannot but realize afresh the greatness to which God has called us. We know not fully the purpose of God in calling us together, we know not what the outcome may be, but to some extent we realize the solemnity of the occasion.

Before us the great map of the world lying in darkness, above us the opened heavens and Him who sits on the throne saying: "All power is given to me.... go ye therefore."

Too often in seeking for help we forget the source of power. 'Power belongeth unto God.'  Too often we are taken up with people and with work, with calls made upon us, with what we can do and what we cannot do, with our plans and projects and so on, to the exclusion of Him alone, who is the great Worker.

Oh, this morning let us sweep all this away and come to God, face to face with God only, realizing that the place whereon we stand is holy ground.  This is our supreme need, not money, friends, openings, sympathy, enthusiasm, good meetings, a going concern; but Himself, the living God, the Fountain of all fullness.

Would that the Holy Spirit now, in this quiet hour, might take full possession of our hearts, showing us afresh our great need, showing us afresh our great God."

From the remarkable book: Mrs. Howard Taylor: Her Web of Time  p. 177

Monsoon clouds over the Thyle Residence - of which the second phase (2 more flats to add to the 6 we dedicated in Feb this year) is being built in the midst of the deep uncertainties our hospital is going through. God is so good, He's so good to us!


  1. Stand still and stay faithful to Him always. Praying for God's strength and wisdom to enable you in your new roles...

  2. ..we will be praying that the right people join you. And that they join you soon!

  3. Thanks for sharing this. You will be in our thoughts and prayers! You are doing a great service! Jesus is there to help and guide you in all your struggles! He will see you through. Praying that more medical doctors / staff will join hands with you to fulfill the God-given task to you and to serve the poor and most needy patients. May He provide all you hospital needs according to His riches in glory! Amen!