HAELLA PLANTATION, Papua New Guinea — Rhonda Hamilton was having a rough day. So many people waited for treatment at the mobile clinic set up by YWAM volunteers that she chose to skip lunch in order to continue administering healthcare. She had also not slept well the night before and now exhaustion threatened.
Yet Rhonda knew that whatever we do for “the least of these,” we do it for our Savior.
A poignant reminder of this truth came in the afternoon when one of the volunteers manning the medical registration table hurried over to Rhonda, who is a family nurse practitioner. “You have to take a look at this baby,” the volunteer said. “He’s starving to death.”
Rhonda was shocked to see the child was just skin and bones, its limbs contracted inward. Through the translator, Rhonda learned this young mom’s story. The baby was only 2 years old and some time before had become ill with a high fever. Mom took him to the hospital.
A month later, the boy was released back into her care in the condition Rhonda now saw him. She said the hospital staff told her to take him home to die. Both Rhonda and the translator wept as they listened to this heartbreaking account.
It was obvious the mother was trying hard to give the baby the best possible care. Rhonda watched how tenderly she cradled him. Since the fever had caused brain damage the child’s swallowing reflexes were affected; the mom mashed up his food to make it easier to eat.
The mother told Rhonda how her neighbors had accused her of hanging her baby in a tree in the backyard. They said this had invited evil spirits to enter his body and that’s what had caused the damage.
Rhonda was certain the child had fallen victim to cerebral malaria, a tragic form of the infamous tropical illness that is particularly cruel to its tiny victims. She assured the mom that a very bad disease, and not evil spirits, had caused the sickness and damage.
“I sensed she was a godly woman but I didn’t know what to do or say,” Rhonda said. “I asked the Lord how I could help this mom and I sensed Him saying that I was supposed to tell her that whatever she did for her baby it was as if she was doing it for the Lord.”
Before the mom left, Rhonda also showed her how to do some simple range-of-motion exercises to help relieve some of the child’s contracted muscles. When she left, this young mom had new hope in her eyes.
When we encounter great need that surpasses our limited resources, we can remember Who is the source of healing and eternal life. Just like that young mom, we can trust the Lord to use our best efforts to minister to him as we minister to the poor and needy.
by Cheryl L. Weber
YWAM Ships Kona Volunteer