From Death to Life in Papua New Guinea

November 9, 2017 • Papua New Guinea
Dr. Sheryl Uyeda makes her rounds at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital in Papua New Guinea.
Dr. Sheryl Uyeda is a general surgeon serving at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital in Papua New Guinea through World Medical Mission’s Post-Residency Program.

The stench of decay was overwhelming. It was so unbearable that we found our patient outside the medical ward, lying on a gurney on the sidewalk because the other patients couldn’t stand to be in the same building with him. A motor vehicle accident had caused a puncture wound that had been neglected for three days prior to Benson arriving at our hospital. Now, infection had set in and was rapidly extending through his skin and soft tissues.

As we debrided the dead tissue, we could see the flesh-eating bacteria spreading. We removed extensive amounts of skin and soft tissue. The resulting wound was enormous and difficult to manage as it wrapped almost circumferentially around his thigh.

Dr. Dr. Sheryl Uyeda and colleagues.

Dr. Sheryl Uyeda and colleagues.

We were out of stock of clindamycin, the standard antibiotic that is crucial in stopping the spread of this type of infection. Instead, we tried a related medication and prayed it would work. We knew that his body’s response to treatment over the next 24 hours would determine his prognosis, and it looked rather grim.

Amazingly, Benson stabilized overnight. With a glimmer of hope, we began the grueling, two-month process of closing his wounds. Eventually, the wound was closed with serial skin grafting.

Early in his hospital stay, Benson asked my colleague Dr. Ben Radcliffe to pray with him. After his close brush with death, Benson spent a lot of time examining his life. Benson decided to place his faith in the God who had saved his life and now He wants to follow Jesus.

Benson’s story is a metaphor for our spiritual lives. Inevitably, we will receive wounds from other people, circumstances, or events in our lives—disappointments, betrayal, or loss of loved ones. Even a small wound in our hearts left untreated allows sin to enter and take root.

Before we know it, the festering resentment, irritability, bitterness, or discontent spreads until we become offensive to those closest to us. Without intervention, our decaying hearts will become dead—devoid of feeling and unable to fulfill the good purpose God intends for our lives.

In order to rid ourselves of this spreading disease, we must submit ourselves to the Great Healer and allow Him to cut away every part of our hearts that reeks of decay. The process can be long and painful as He whittles away every ounce of sinful flesh, exposes raw wounds, and gradually patches healthy tissue together again. But the joy of complete healing is worth the struggle, and the new life that He brings is beyond compare.

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Post-Residency Program The World Medical Mission Post-Residency Program is a fully funded two-year program for Christian physicians and their families who have been called to medical missions. Following their residency, doctors are placed at a mission hospital to serve within their specialty alongside career medical missionaries. We provide logistical and financial support to these young men and women as they treat patients and share the love of Jesus Christ.

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