There Was a Beautiful Glow

August 26, 2015 • Uganda
There was a Beautiful Glow

A mother of a Children’s Heart Project patient accepts Christ and changes her community

Theresa Shoemaker is a regional host coordinator with the Children’s Heart Project.

Two years ago, Madina gave birth to twin boys in Uganda. She knew something was different about Medei, as he wasn’t growing and eating like his brother and he struggled to breath. One woman told her not to worry about losing one of the boys because she still had another. That made her cry the whole day.

She persisted in seeking medical care and eventually was advised that Medei had a congenital heart defect that would require surgery. Feeling helpless and hopeless, she knew surgery wasn’t possible where she lived and, even if it was, she could never afford such a thing. But the child was referred to a facility whose staff was aware of the Samaritan’s Purse Children’s Heart Project. He was placed on our waiting list to be accepted by a North American hospital.

There was a Beautiful Glow

Medei and his twin brother, Birabbo

Her despair turned to hope when they received the news of his acceptance. She had to make arrangements to be away for several weeks, but she knew this was something she had to do. People in the community spoke ill of her husband for allowing his son to be taken away, and he wondered if his son would return. Our staff members assured him that there was no need for worry.

So this brave mother from a Muslim family traveled thousands of miles to be with her son for the life-saving surgery. They were placed in the home of a loving Christian family who shared Christ with them in word and deed. She began to see that there was something special about them and about Christianity.

While she was in North America, I met her and her son post-surgery. We chatted via the interpreter, laughed, and enjoyed watching her son play in a cardboard box in the host family’s living room. It seems that little boys across the globe have commonalities after all. After a couple of days, I said my goodbyes to her and felt it was probable that I would never see her again since she would return home soon.

Upon our staff’s first follow-up visit to her home, she said that before her son had been healed, she had never believed in miracles. She then said because of her son’s healing, she knew that God existed and that He created miracles. Our staff shared the Gospel with her, and she willingly confessed her sin and asked Jesus into her heart.

Two hearts had been renewed. She was introduced to a local pastor and church fellowship, which quickly welcomed her for worship, discipleship, and fellowship.

There was a Beautiful Glow

Madina and her husband, Issa

A few weeks ago, as part of my role with the Children’s Heart Project, I traveled to Uganda for meetings and to accompany our in-country staff for a home visit. It turned out we would be visiting Madina’s family. The staff members told me about her beautiful experience of salvation, and the beauty even went deeper. Upon our team’s second visit, three other Muslim women had heard the Gospel and were saved as well!

I was filled with humility and awe at what God was doing, all beginning with the repair of this little boy’s heart. I was reminded of Philippians 1:6: “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (NKJV). Indeed! His voice had spoken both in North America and in Africa.

An Ambassador for Christ

Plans were made, and the day came for our journey. We began by visiting the market and procuring food staples for the family. Worship music filled our vehicle, and we enjoyed wonderful conversation as I watched the Ugandan countryside fly by. We passed the tea fields and sugarcane fields and journeyed through the forest as I watched the Ugandan people outside our windows go about their daily lives.

We finally arrived at Madina’s house. She works as a schoolteacher in a primary school on a military compound made up of several barracks. Her slim stature and beautifully wrapped traditional headdress danced with excitement as she recognized her trusted friends. The symbol of the cross that our vehicle bore was a treasure to her. She had new meaning, and these were the people that had helped her find it.

Each of our staff members exited the vehicle, and joyful greetings were exchanged. I was the last person out and stood waiting while she greeted each of them. Then our eyes caught a glimpse of one another. She became jubilant as she hugged me, then stood back in amazement, then hugged me again, and then stood back. This went on for several moments until we walked arm in arm together to do a mandatory check-in at the office before proceeding. Yes, I had met her before, but this time she was different. It was obvious there was something deep inside her that exuded. There was a beautiful glow.

There was a Beautiful Glow

Now Medei is as healthy as his brother.

We entered a small office where two uniformed gentlemen politely asked us to be seated. Several exchanges of conversation were made between my friend and them in another language. English was mixed in, and one of the men said, “There she goes preaching again.” Her eyes were bright. Her smile was contagious. She bubbled with enthusiasm.

Later my team told me that she had said to the two men, “I still think you should consider asking Christ into your heart as Savior!” What an incredibly bold ambassador for Christ this young mom has become! I was swept away with joy at that statement.

This mom was not there by chance. It was not coincidence that her aunt had asked her some time ago to teach this class of children. It was not a random place where she had moved to be closer to medical care for her son who was ill. God had placed her, strategically and purposefully.

I saw for myself what was happening. She had been won by the love of Christ, and she couldn’t hold it in. God had given new life to her son, and she was now convinced that the God of miracles was her God. She wanted everyone around her to know.

When we arrived at her home, her husband was there. He had traveled three hours from his other home to be there because he knew our team was coming. He wanted to express how thankful he was for all that had happened to his son. He graciously and humbly sat as our team beautifully presented Christ again, as well as encouraging these new believers in their walk.

There was a Beautiful Glow

As Theresa left Madina’s home, she received a chicken as a thank you gift.

Madina beamed throughout. She held her son and listened intently, soaking in the goodness of what was being said. God was in that small home. The Scriptures were boldly and simply explained, and as I sat with them and contributed occasionally, my mind went back to the early beginnings of the church. It was overwhelming, and I didn’t want to leave. My heart was gripped by the power of the Word. I saw it penetrate hearts and was reminded that His words won’t return void.

We then traveled out of the compound and to a local church nearby to meet the leadership and thank them for ministering to these new believers. One of the Muslim women assured the pastor’s wife that she would be in attendance the following Sunday morning. We then said our final goodbyes. Madina was notably joyful, and I left there with my heart nearly blinded from the glow on her sweet face.

Even at this moment, the very thought of it brings an inexplicable warmth to my heart and smile to my face as I remember that beautiful glow. I’ll see you again, my friend, when you and I together will bask in the glow of our God who loved us and gave Himself for us.

I pray that rejoicing alongside us will sit a little boy, who on earth bore a scar on his chest that gave testament to his new heart and new chance at life, given to him by the God of the universe. And in the center of us all will stand the One who too bore a scar that proved His immeasurable love for each of us. We will bask in the glow of His face, so much that there will be no need for the sun. What a day that will be.