Monday, 18 February 2013

The heart of darkness

A recent event in PNG has made international news--a young woman was accused of witchcraft, tortured and killed.  This tragedy happened just down the road from us in Mt. Hagen.  (If you are interested in reading more, here is a very intense but well written article about this particular story and the overall problem in PNG.)

Unfortunately it was not an isolated event.  In fact, we sometimes care for such patients at our hospital.  Here is a recent story posted by Dr. Erin on her blog...

"If you could turn back the clock 24 hours, you would find a baby girl growing inside of her mom.  With a month before her scheduled entrance into the world, she was trying to develop as much as she could.  Without warning, this little girl's life was altered forever.  There was screaming and loud noises coming from the outside, it sounded like her mom's voice yelling out.  Then there was pain as a sharp hot object touched her neck, after that there was nothing.  This little girl, who hadn't even taken a breath in the world that we know, who was innocent of all wrong doing, had her life taken from her before she could even really start to live it.

"The call came at 0245 from the medical student that a woman was in labor and they needed our help.  We walked past the 3 empty labor and delivery bays and made our way to the last one where we found 4 nurses huddled around a woman who was wrapped almost head to toe in bandages.  She was tortured less than 24 hours previously by her husband's family for suspicion of witchcraft.  She suffered significant burns to most of her body, the bandages our attempt to keep her burns clean.  The torture and burnings she endured didn't just permanently scar her, but her unborn child as well.  On her arrival to our emergency department, the ultrasound showed her unborn baby did not have a heartbeat and had died during the torture, but she still had to delivery her, which was the reason for the phone call.

"Every movement she made shot pains through her body from her fresh burns.  Each contraction not only served as a reminder of the torture that she suffered, but also caused its own pain and torture as her daughter worked her way closer and closer into the outside world through her burned and damaged birth canal.  As I examined her and found out more of what had happened, I felt helpless.  How do I help this woman who has experienced more terror and grief in 24 hours than I have in my 34 years of life?

"Helping her deliver her baby was the obvious way to help, so we prayed and I gave her some meds as we helped to deliver her baby.  She never breathed and her heart never beat, but she was beautiful even with the burn on her neck.  Her life had ended before she even had a chance to experience the world outside of her mom, but was it better?  If being inside her mom couldn't protect her from the evil around us, I am not sure anything could have.  Rapes, tortures, suicides, machete chops, stabbings, and domestic violence make up a large part of the patient population that we serve here at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital.

"As I went home that night, I couldn't stop thinking and praying for this woman and her dead daughter.  What will make the violence in PNG stop?  How does she move on?  How does she find comfort and peace after what has happened to her?  She knows the Lord, but pray for her to find peace in Him and that He would comfort her in a way that my words cannot.  Obviously there is more work to be done here.  Pray that we would continue t have compassion on all who come, sharing Christ and allowng Him to change the culture that is so destructive around us."

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
~ Ephesians 6:12

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