Life Renewed at Emergency Field Hospital in Ecuador

June 2, 2016 • Ecuador
Emergency Field Hospital Ecuador
Staff work hard caring for patients in Jesus' Name at the Emergency Field Hospital.

After devastating earthquakes, Samaritan’s Purse provided aid and pointed patients to courage in Christ

Emily Arneson is the assistant director for Children’s Heart Project. She recently spent two weeks in Ecuador working in the Samaritan’s Purse Emergency Field Hospital after a devastating earthquake shook the country.

“Praise the Lord! I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation. The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them. His work is honorable and glorious, and His righteousness endures forever. He has made His wonderful works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and full of compassion” (Psalm 111:1-4, NKJV).

Ecuador Emergency Field Hospital

The outside of the hospital

God has often given leaders at Samaritan’s Purse the vision to be prepared to serve and help those in need during a crisis. He has blessed us with the manpower, supplies, and funds to immediately deploy when a disaster happens. A great example of this is the emergency field hospital.

For almost two years, I’ve overheard our emergency medical team working on this hospital. They knew that one day it would be used in a disaster to help those desperately in need of medical care—all to help in Jesus’ name.

When the earthquake in Ecuador happened, the field hospital was deployed to an area called Chone. The Ecuadorian hospital there was structurally unsafe after the earthquake. A crumbling ward left people with medical needs and emergencies with nowhere to go. Less than six days after the earthquake, the field hospital was open and functional.

I had the opportunity to work in the hospital as a nurse. But before I went, I felt nervous and concerned about the unknown. Since I hadn’t worked as a nurse in a few years, I wondered if my skills would be adequate. God answered my question with a yes and helped me to remember my skills. Would I have the strength, energy, and endurance do to the work He called me to? The answer to that question was no. I alone would not have the strength, but God would be my strength. He carried me in each moment.

Each of the two wards in the field hospital can hold up to 10 patients but usually had between six to eight people. These patients were mostly adults with orthopedic injuries or those recovering from other surgeries or medical issues. And through those people being admitted in our field hospital, we were able to share and show them the love of Christ.

Patients and Doctors Experience Life Change

Katie, another nurse on the ward, was serving with her husband, Andres, in Togo when he came down with Lassa fever in March and was evacuated to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. They are now both serving in the field hospital as nurses. Katie shared with Edgar, a patient whose leg was accidentally lit on fire in an auto body shop, about hope in Jesus and the need to repent from our sins. He chose to trust in Jesus.

Ecuador Emergency Field Hospital

Doctors prepare for surgery on a young patient

Across from Edgar was a man I lovingly called Grandpa Pedro. Grandpa Pedro was 90 years old and had his foot run over by a car. After several surgeries to attempt to save his foot, his leg was amputated below the knee. On the day when Katie shared with Edgar, Grandpa Pedro was divinely given better hearing to listen to Katie share. And he accepted Christ.

A man named Sergio and his wife were in a car accident, and his leg was amputated in the accident. His wife quickly wrapped his leg to stop the bleeding, saving his life. He underwent many surgeries at our field hospital to clean his wound, and, during that time, he and I became friends.

Although I was giving him medicine to help him get better, I saw the biggest change in his heart when we started talking about spiritual matters. He was depressed for a few days but then made a huge turn around and was optimistic for the future.

Sergio had no idea how he would support his family since he could no longer transport fruit with only one leg. I encouraged him to pray and ask God for help. God allowed me to serve and love this man and share the hope of Jesus. I reminded him that if he put his trust in Jesus, we would be reunited again in heaven.

Ecuador Emergency Field Hospital

A patient is carried by Samaritan’s Purse staff members to the hospital

A young man named Sebastian was brought to our field hospital after an alcohol-related motorbike accident, his seventh alcohol-related accident, and he had a huge open wound on his leg. His injury required many surgeries, and he will likely be in the hospital several more weeks. The team also shared the Gospel with him, and He decided to turn from darkness to the light. When I left, he radiated joy and was reading his Bible often.

One evening, we heard that a man was coming in who had attempted to take his own life by ingesting a chemical. The staff of the emergency department worked tirelessly on him. He had only ingested a small amount, so he recovered quickly. Shelly, a nurse practitioner, opened up to him about Christ. He put his trust in Jesus.

God led an Ecuadorian doctor named Mabel to help Samaritan’s Purse. She had a small business in Chone and showed up because she wanted to help as the field hospital was getting established. We quickly saw her many talents. She knew the medical system in Ecuador, the logistics, and a network of people who could support our work.

Mabel is now our sister in Christ. She was baptized on a recent Sunday, and I was able to attend the baptism service. She was excited to make the public commitment to follow Jesus despite her mother not supporting her in this decision. God is using this woman to be a bridge between the hospital and the Ecuadorian healthcare system.

The Healing Power of Jesus

God knew we needed to be there to help the Ecuadorian people both physically and spiritually. The need was Jesus and the avenue God choose to use was Samaritan Purse’s emergency field hospital. People didn’t come to Christ because our words were perfect or eloquent. We simply shared our stories and how Jesus is working in our own lives. The power of the Holy Spirit used those words in the hearts of our patients.

God’s provisions were perfect at the moment we needed them. When we had traumas, God provided us with a trauma surgeon. When we had endless orthopedic injuries, we had two orthopedic surgeons. When we had a man with a massive open infection inside his abdomen, there was a doctor available to open him up to clean out his abdomen and stop the infections. I was told that after hours of looking over every inch of this man’s intestines to find the source of the infection, the doctor stopped in the operating room to pray and ask for God’s help. God did indeed help, and Alex survived. During devotions on the day of Alex’s discharge, his mom had her hands lifted high in praise of God.

Ecuador Emergency Field Hospital

A doctor examines a patient in the ward

God also provided us with just the right type of nurses and physician assistants. We had a wound specialty nurse to help with burn dressing changes. We had a physician assistant that spoke Spanish to help in the emergency department. Several physicians I spoke with shared how God miraculously cleared their schedules to allow them to come and serve for a couple weeks.

As I think back to this experience and all that God is doing at the emergency field hospital, I remember Psalm 111 and that God’s works are great. Please continue to pray for the field hospital, specifically that the name of Jesus would be glorified in all we do.

When Samaritan’s Purse leaves Ecuador, we will leave the field hospital for the Ecuadorian healthcare system to run. Pray also for that transition. The three earthquakes shook the land, but God used them to shake the hearts of the people and to turn them to Christ. Great are the works of God. The healing of Jesus is powerful.