Stories of God at Work

Called to Medical Missions!

Dr. Deborah Walker, a Pediatrician at the Bongolo Hospital, shares Claude Alain’s exciting story of God’s healing as well as her testimony of how she was called to serve Christ through medicine. Her article appeared in  the January 15, 2014 “a-Life, Alliance Magazine” by the title, ” Through Healing Hands”.  Please click here for Dr Walker’s moving testimony of how she was called to serve in medicine and how she has helped several children get to the States for heart surgery.

Deb & baby



Buffalo Attack!

His name is Douckaga Douckaga, he’s 52 years old, he’s an elder in the Alliance church in Niali, in south Gabon, and he survived a buffalo attack. On Monday, July 26 a year ago he left the village on foot with his two teenage sons and their dog to check their small animal traps. They carried with them two loaded shotguns, and two machetes. As they approached one of the traps a buffalo suddenly ran by them, dragging on his hind leg a small tree tethered to a thin steel cable. Douckaga ran after him with his shotgun, followed by the dog and his sons. The buffalo ran into waist high grass and as they cautiously approached, charged Douckaga. He aimed at the buffalo and fired point-blank, but the gun misfired. A second later the buffalo threw him to the ground and began twisting his horns through both of Douckaga’s his thighs,trying to tear open his groin. Douckaga grabbed the buffalo’s horns and shouted for the son with the other gun to come close and shoot him. Meanwhile the buffalo fought to throw Douckaga off his horns, thrusting one of horns entirely through his left arm in two places. The dog attacked the buffalo from behind, temporarily distracting him. At that moment Douckaga’s son ran up and thrusting the shotgun against the buffalo’s neck, fired. The buffalo staggered, but then turned on Douckaga again, who was still shouting and clinging to the bull’s horns. His other son then chopped hard at the bull’s neck, and dropped him.

Douckaga checked himself out, and realized that the horns had missed all major arteries in his arm and thighs. They were seven kilometers (5 miles) from home, so he told the boys they needed to start home while he had enough strength. He walked all the way home on his own power. Several hours later he arrived at Bongolo Hospital with his wife and one of his sons. Our surgical residents took him to the operating room, washed out his wounds and dressed them, and told his waiting family that although his injuries were serious, he was expected to recover quickly. By the time I saw him he was resting in bed comfortably and smiling at God’s grace.

That same day, a group of about 30 women from the Alliance churches in Lebamba was scheduled to travel 500 miles to a city in northern Gabon for the annual women’s retreat. Douckaga’s wife was also registered to attend the same women’s retreat. To everyone’s surprise, after he returned to his bed from the operating room Douckaga turned to his wife and told her that he wanted to attend the retreat and not stay with him. When she objected, he told her that he was doing fine, and he wanted her to go! At his urging, she boarded a bus the next morning and went with the other women to the retreat.

The next day Douckaga and his sons ate roast buffalo!


A Momentous Occasion for Dr. Baruwa!

Dr. Elisee Baruwa was featured in Eric and Wendy Hofman’s blog on June 26th. Read the following as told by Dr. Wendy Hofman, Ophthalmologist:

Thursday June 24th started as just about any normal day at the Bongolo Eye Clinic would start. After the morning devotional together with the hospital staff, the eye clinic staff arrived at 8am. We’re currently up to a staff of 7 people besides myself:

– Dr. Elisee Baruwa, from the Congo DRC, ophthalmology resident
– Jean Paul, senior nurse
– Edouard, nurse
– Marius, nurse
– Matthieu, nurse
– Oscar, nurses’ aide
– Marie Louise, janitor

We all filed through the doors into the clinic and began the day’s work. We saw postop patients from the previous day’s surgeries, then while consultations were taking place in the clinic, we began our surgeries in the attached OR. After I’d finished the fourth cataract surgery, it was time for Dr. Elisee to come in from the clinic to begin his cataract cases. Here are some of the instruments we use for this surgery:

Elisee’s patient was escorted to the operating table and the anesthesia given. Before the operation, the patient saw only the difference between light and dark in the eye scheduled to be operated on – he couldn’t discern any movement or form with it at all.

Elisee took his place at the head of the bed, began with a prayer, and started the surgery with me watching from the side observer scope of our microscope. Each step went well – the opening of the conjunctiva, the construction of the precisely formed tunnel incision, the paracentesis, filling the eye with viscoelastic, opening the capsule around the lens…lately Elisee has been ending there, but this time he was ready for the next step and he continued…lifting and extracting the opaque white lens (cataract), cleaning the remnants of the cataract, and finally inserting the new clear artificial lens. When he was done, the whole operating team let out a spontaneous cheer – this was Elisee’s first entire MSICS cataract extraction!

Here’s a picture of Elisee, grinning after the surgery, and putting his name down as chief surgeon on the operatory note for this case:

At the end of the afternoon, Jean Paul went to a local store and bought soft drinks for us all to share, and we had a party right there in the clinic, to celebrate a momentous occasion:

(Marius was taking the photo, so is missing from this picture.)

The next day, in the morning, we took the patches off of the patients who had been operated on. Then the visual acuities were measured – Elisee’s patient saw 20/40 already! Here he is examining his patient:

The patient was really happy, and shook Elisee’s hand with joy as we took their pictures:

In some way, I almost feel like this patient is some kind of grandchild of mine, because my student restored his sight.

The patient’s only question was when can we operate on his other eye 🙂 . Praise God for His continued sustenance and direction as we continue our work here at Bongolo.

Meet Fidele (plus Feb 26th update)!

As told by Dr. Renee Valach and Pilot Steve Straw:

Steve Straw and Fidele

Dr.  Valach wrote that Fidele  had been one of the workers who cut the grass on the (Bongolo) mission station until a heart problem stopped him from working.  February 21st  Dr Valach will accompany Fidele to a hospital in Kenya, where he will undergo surgery to fix his heart valve. He has small children, and his heart problem is serious so this is a wonderful opportunity for him.

Steve Straw and Fidele- explanations

Recently,  Fidele  flew to Libreville with Air Calvary for part of his passport application. This was his first trip in a plane and Pilot Steve Straw explained the important safety issues like the seat belts. There were a few local men standing near the plane, and while Steve spoke they clarified each thing.  Steve wrote that the flight went really well.  If Fidele was nervous, he could not tell. Fidele would occasionally point out the window and ask Steve to please identify the villages that they were flying over. He also made many comments about the river that was below their flight path for much of the journey- the Ngoungie. He said it was very big! During the leg of the flight that passes over the city of Lamberene,  Steve identified the city and told him to look below.  Fidele  said, “Yes- I see it. Here- let me open my window so that you can see also.”  Steve assured him that he was familiar with the town and didn’t need to see it today. Upon landing Fidele thanked God repeatedly and said “Dieu est Grand” (God is Great).

Sreve Straw and Fidele in plane

Dr. Renee Valach is now attending a medical conference in Kenya which will end just before Fidele flies from Libreville to Nairobi, Kenya. She plans to meet Fidele at the Nairobi airport  on February 21st and be there while he has heart surgery.   Pray for Fidele as he travels alone to Kenya, that the flight would go smoothly. Pray for the surgeon as he operates on Fidele’s heart valve. Pray that the operation will be successful.

If you would like to GIVE to “Bongolo Heart Send Project” so that others get the same opportunity for open heart surgery as Fidele click HERE.

To get updates about the new Bongolo Medical Aviation program with Air Calvary follow Pilot Steve’s blog  “Arrivals and Departures”  by clicking  HERE.

Update on Fidele!

February 26

Dr. Renee Valach wrote concerning meeting Fidele at the airport in Nairobi and then going with him to  Tenwek Hospital in Kenya. It worked out perfectly that she was able to meet up with and translate for Fidele at the Visa/Immigration desk, since he did not speak Swahili or English. The next day was the day for the surgery. Fidele was already anesthetized for surgery but before starting,  another test  was performed for his heart. Everyone were very surprised to find the problem with his valve was no longer severe, but is now mild to moderate! Fidele had been seen by one cardiologist over the course of many years and at least two other visiting cardiology specialists at Bongolo, all of whom had all agreed that his heart valve condition was severe.  Since the problem was now no longer severe, the surgery was not done!  While Fidele was not completely healed, God said, “Not now” for his operation in a very dramatic way!

Both Dr. Valach and Fidele returned to Gabon. Fidele plans to start working again as a Bongolo station yardworker.

Let us join Fidele in Praise the Lord for HIS touch!

“I need to read my Bible.”

By Dr. Wendy Hofman, Ophthalmologist.

Samuel's YAG
We missionaries have been praying for the arrival of our airplane for Air Calvary for many months….but I think that we weren’t the only ones who have been praying.
A couple of weeks ago, I sat down to do a “routine” cataract surgery here at Bongolo Hospital, for a patient named Samuel.  The nurses and I were just getting ready to pray for the patient before starting, as we usually do, when Samuel started talking away in Nzebi, a local Gabonese language.  My nurses explained that Samuel was asking to pray for his own cataract surgery.  I had never had a patient do this before, but the sterile drapes covering his face and the eyelid holder in place over his eye didn’t hinder him one bit as he prayed fervently for his own operation.
Within the first week, the operated eye, which had been blind, achieved 20/20 vision.  But Samuel was still concerned.  “I need to read my Bible, so I can share the gospel,” he explained to me insistently with his toothy grin.  He said this over and over, just to make sure that he had succeeded at crossing the language barrier.  It turns out that Samuel is a “retired” Gabonese evangelist, whose heart is still passionate for his work despite being in his 70’s.
Samuel's YAG2
I realized that in order to give him the best vision, Samuel needed a laser procedure done for his other eye.  I had been explaining to other patients for months that they would have to come back later, once “the laser had arrived.”  Then the laser had been waiting in the capital city of Libreville for an additional month, because the 10-hour drive to Bongolo down often rugged dirt roads would have been too jarring for the delicate equipment.  We needed the airplane.  But that day had arrived!  The Air Calvary plane had gently landed its very first flight just two days before, bringing the laser with it.  I smiled at Samuel.
As I escorted him to the laser, I thought about God’s faithfulness in answering Samuel’s prayers.  He is “the LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands…” (Ex 34:6-7a).Gabon January 2010 037

Binta’s Miracle

“Bongolo Heart Send Project” is a program for children with congenital heart diseases. It aims to send these children to a hospital where they can receive heart surgery, something that can not happen in Gabon.

Meet Binta. In July 07 she had successful heart surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

Binta now comes to Bongolo Hospital for regular checkups. She is doing GREAT. The only medicine she needs is malaria prophylaxis.binta-aug-07-after-surgery

Read her story in an Alliance Life Magazine article called, “Binta’s Miracle” This article was written by Pediatrician Dr. Deborah Walker.

Please pray that Mayo Clinic will be able to offer us another charity slot and that the Lord will provide all the funds needed for the airfare for the patient and one parent. Pray for the selection the next child who will most benefit from this surgery.

If you would like to GIVE to “Bongolo Heart Send Project” so that other children get the same opportunity as Binta for open heart surgery click HERE.

Real-Life Testimonies

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