MAUREEN’S STORY

By Drew Benac

I met Maureen the day before her surgery. She had a large pre-cancerous growth in a very personal location. It had become difficult for her to sit or sleep due to the pain and discomfort she was experiencing. She had sought medical care from various doctors but nobody was willing to take on her case. The Tenwek team found Maureen at a community outreach clinic where they prayed with her and offered to help care for her if she could make it to the hospital.

After several months of saving, Maureen eventually made the 5 hour trip to Tenwek with enough money to cover the initial costs for her hospital admission. Our surgical team saw her and made plans to remove the entire growth the following day. The large defect left behind would require moving a flap of skin from her thigh to allow for proper healing. This meant that the risk of wound breakdown or complications following surgery were high but complete removal was the only chance at curing her condition and preventing cancer from spreading in the future.

The surgery went well with an aesthetically pleasing end result but unfortunately half of Maureen’s wound broke down after the first week. The location of her flap, the sanitary conditions in the ward and her HIV+ status all created unique challenges for proper healing.  The best way forward seemed to be twice daily dressing changes to allow the surgical site to heal from the inside out.

For the next two weeks, Maureen’s bandage was painfully changed morning and night, these times fraught with frequent tears and great anxiety for Maureen. It was during this time of praying with Maureen before each dressing change that a bond was formed and we began to hear more of her story.

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Hannah heard about the case and asked if she could go pray with Maureen.  The two became fast friends. Hannah gave her a Bible as well as a children’s Bible for her ten year old son that had been donated and they they began to study the Bible together.  Maureen was certainly no stranger to suffering.  An orphan at the age of 12,  a long struggle with infertility, a diagnosis with HIV then eventual abandonment by her husband had all given Maureen good reason to run from the Lord but her faith continues to grow.  She has been mentored by her God-fearing grandmother and now desires to teach her own son about the Lord and His ways.

Yesterday, Maureen walked out of the hospital after a one month stay. Before she left we were able to tell her that the cost of her hospital bill had been covered (in part by generous donations from you) and that the results from her surgery showed she was cancer free!   She wept in her bed on the ward and  we were able to pray and thank God for His provision and grace. This was truly an example of Jesus healing a women both inside and out.  Maureen left Tenwek physically healed and spiritually encouraged.  Before she left she came over to our house for chai and met our kids. What a sweet moment for us to have her in our home and pray with her before she went home. It was exciting for Hannah and I to team up in caring for a patient and we are thankful for the opportunity to partner with you and the entire team at Tenwek.

This case was a great reminder for us of what God has done in redeeming his children.  He has completely paid the spiritual debts we couldn’t afford and removed our sin completely.  We too have been set free from the cancer of our flesh and covered with the beauty of his righteousness.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21

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WEEK 11 VIDEO UPDATE

Highlights from the last few weeks: Haircuts, Halloween in Africa, a trip to the countryside to visit a Kenyan farm, Drew’s parents coming to visit, continued work at the hospital and rainy season.  Thanks for praying!

BLESSED WHILE BROKEN

By Drew Benac ** revision from a recent post

Since the beginning of time, God’s people have always been broken.  They repeatedly disown him, often neglect His commands and instead seek to walk in their own.  Throughout history, they have known great struggle yet continue to experience God’s  mercy and His blessing.  Ezekiel tells the story:

Thus says the Lord God, it is not for your sake that I am about to act but for the sake of my holy name…. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules….Then they will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 36:22, 27-28, 36)

The same can be said of God’s people today, the global church.  The end game for Israel then and for the Christian today is not our happiness but the holiness and Lordship of God’s name.  His renown is more important than our reputation, His accomplishments overshadow our accolades and His plans superceed our precious ambition. This tension between my flesh and the fame of our Father has been on full display during our time in Kenya and I have found Pslam 51 particularly convicting.

Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your way, and sinners will return to you.” (Psalm 51:10-13)

I hope that our time in Kenya so far has been characterized by “teaching transgressors” God’s ways while watching “sinners returning” to Him and in many ways I think it has.  But I’ve been reminded more than ever lately that I came here both to teach and be taught, to see others return to Him but also to repent myself, to be blessed but be reminded in new ways of my own brokenness.

In coming, I see now all the ways I needed a cleansed heart, a less wayward spirit and a newfound understanding of the joy that comes from being saved by Christ. The order of this passage in Psalms is no mistake. Sharing the great news of God’s saving grace, what missions is thought to be all about, is most effectively done once a few prerequisites have been firmly established.

God knew  my heart in coming here, how often it is divided and distracted by my personal desires rather than His best for my life. My spirit is shaky most days and far from steadfast. God’s presence is frequently an afterthought rather than my first thought. My attitude is one of self-pity instead of set on selfless service and my obedience is usually nonexistent or begrudging at best.  The work God is doing has been slow and painful, yet good. “Creating” a new heart, “renewing” a broken sprit and “restoring” joy where discontentment once ruled is a God-sized undertaking and one that is taking some time.

“C.S. Lewis’ writing on God’s faithfulness in trials has meant a great deal to me lately in light of my struggles. Here are a few of his words from the book, The Problem with Pain.

To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must be impeded and repelled by certain stains in our present character, and because he already loves us He must labor to make us lovable.”(pages 40-41)

I am thankful more than ever that He is working to make me more lovable and more like Him. I am deeply honored that he would go through the trouble of bringing me to Africa, a country of blessing and brokenness itself, so He could mold my character, create in me a clean heart, and not leave my in the imperfect place I inhabited just a few months ago.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to grow more like Him and humbled by God’s limitless love. It is my prayer that during this time of growth and great learning that He would continue to save and sanctity those around me despite my shortcomings. “Then they will know that [you] are the LORD.” May it be so!

 

 

Half-Way Point

It’s hard to believe that we have been here 2 months!  We cannot thank each of you for the prayers, support and for tuning in on the blog from time to time to see and hear all that is going on.

We feel so honored to be here in Kenya and have faced both great joys and challenges in our time here so far.  Our family often plays a game at dinner called “hi’s and low’s” where each person at the table shares both a highlight and low point from their day.  With that introduction, here are some of the hi’s and low’s of our time at Tenwek  so far:

HIGHLIGHTS:

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1. The Boys are Thriving: Our boys love it here.  They spend a good part of each day barefoot on the grassy field next to our house where playmates and good times are always to be found.

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2. Tenwek Day School: Hannah taught Bible two days each week to a class of 60 Kenyan third grade students.  They are on school break now and classes will resume in January.

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3. Cancer Surgery: Drew has been able to do 8 major cancer cases so far and counting.  We are thankful for the way God has protected each of his patients through their big operations.

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4. Resident Education/Discipleship: Our family has really enjoyed having the residents oover to our house.  The medial trainees here are hard working, kind and sincere people. Many of them have a strong and vibrant faith.  It has been an honor to teach and work beside each of them.

LOW-POINTS

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1. The Mosquiteos: Bugs are for real here!  We are taking medication to protect against malaria but have still been forced to adopt a 10-15 minute ritual of killing the 10-20 mosquiteos in our house every night before bed.

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2. Learning to be Missionaries: We have met some of the coolest people living at Tenwek but have also experience the day-to-day challenges of communal living.  There are many policies to learn and few things you actually have control over here.  This has been an adjustment for us.

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3. Travel Ban: Drew’s parents had to delay their trip by a month due to civil unrest related to the recent Kenya national election.  If all goes well they will arrive this week! We are so looking forward to having visitors and are thankful for God’s protecting in keeping us safe.

All in all we have seen God’s faithfulness in amazing ways.  Please continue to pray for our last two months here.  To allow for adequate transition time will be arriving back in the states Dec. 28th instead of early January as originally planned. We are thankful to be here and so thankful for all of you!