Thursday, April 9, 2009

April Update from Jessica Schaeffer

I wanted to share the following update from Jessica Schaeffer in Koutiala, Mali. It brings tears of joy to my eyes when I read updates like these! Praise God for the wonders and miracles He has done!!


1 Chron. 16:12 Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles…

Dear Friends,

On a recent Sunday afternoon, as I came home from a walk, I ran into my former language teacher Hawa. Her face was beaming as she told me about Fatoumata, her young relative who has been living with her for the past 9 months. Fatoumata came to Koutiala in hopes of having a live baby after delivering 2 stillborns in the village. She came faithfully for her prenatal visits at our hospital. Fatoumata comes from a Muslim family, and during her first several months here, she quietly kept her distance from Hawa’s family prayer time and weekly Bible study in the courtyard. But as the months went by, her heart began to soften to the love and kindness she was shown by Hawa’s family, friends, and workers at the hospital. She gave birth to a baby boy by c-section in late November, and stayed on in Koutiala for post-op checks and baby vaccinations. In the last few months, she started participating with the family in prayer times and going to church. She decided to give her life to Jesus one Sunday last month, praying with Hawa and the pastor. Although her husband wanted to name the baby Mohamed, she called the baby Moussa (Moses) after Hawa’s husband. She recently asked me for prayer as she is nervous about her return to the village, and how her family will react to her new found faith.

Amisatou is a Muslim woman from a village 4 hours away who has been married for 10 years and has been unable to have children. She and her husband heard about our hospital, so they decided to come for a consultation, hoping for answers and help. During her time in Koutiala, her hosts (my houseworker) took her to meet the pastor, who prayed for her. Her heart was touched as she heard him speak words of Jesus and hope; her husband had already left for the village, but she told her hosts on their next visit to Koutiala she wants her husband to go with her to meet with the pastor. After a few visits to the hospital, her husband asked if we could start a hospital near to their home. “You really care about people here”, he told us, a comment I hear frequently from people in town as they talk about our hospital. “You listen to people, you take them into account”. To a large extent, women here are seen as property, and they have few rights. God has given us a wonderful opportunity to love and value women and children at our hospital. We don’t have all the answers for Amisatou, and we might not be able to help her, but we know a God who is able.

A couple months ago, Bafo Coulibaly was brought to the hospital by her brother-in-law, Pastor Enoch, one of our chaplains. Bafo’s husband (Pastor Enoch’s older brother) wept when he was told that there was nothing we could do for her…she had an inoperable cervical mass. Bafo and her husband have been very resistant to their brother’s faith for many years. But that day, after her consultation, Bafo listened as one of our nurses talked to her about Jesus. Bafo went to stay at Pastor Enoch’s house with pain medicine we gave her to help relieve her discomfort. Dr. Dan Nesselroade told Enoch that only Jesus could heal Bafo, that the only thing left to do was to pray. So Pastor Enoch prayed, and he prayed for a miracle. God gave him two! Two weeks later, after years of resistance to Jesus, Bafo prayed to accept Christ. A month after her initial consultation, she returned to the hospital. As Dr. Dan examined her, he found only a small lesion where the mass had been! Bafo was smiling, saying that her pain and symptoms were gone. Dr. Dan discussed the possibility of doing a radical hysterectomy, but decided to wait 2 more weeks to see if God would complete the healing work He had already started. When Bafo arrived the day of her scheduled surgery, her exam showed that she had been completely healed and was no longer in need of surgery. I passed a smiling Bafo on my way to the hospital last week. Pray for her as she returns to the village, that God will continue His work in her life and in the life of her husband and the rest of their family, who Pastor Enoch has been praying for and witnessing to for years.

In less than 6 weeks I will fly back to the US for 1 year of home assignment. I am excited to see many of you. But I will miss my work here and the people I have grown to love. I marvel regularly at God’s miracles and wonders as He provides for the needs of the hospital and as He works in the lives of the people around me. I am so privileged to be part of His work here. Thank you for your part in His work here too, as you have sent me, loved, encouraged, supported, and prayed for me. Joyfully Living the Call Together,Jessica


1. Life for the next 6 weeks will be very full with hospital work, moving to another house (my things will be used this year by a pediatrician who arrives this summer), visits to friends in Koutiala and the village, etc. Pray that I will finish well and accomplish what God wants me to in these final weeks here before home assignment.

2. Praise God for recently providing a nurse, Jake Tillett, who will come for the next year to fill many of my roles in the hospital. He will arrive May 2, so the last 2 weeks before my departure (May 17) I will work with him as much as possible. Pray for Jake who is raising support and quickly making preparations to come before I leave.

3. Praise God for Fatoumata, Bafo, and others who have accepted Christ over the past few months. Pray for their spiritual growth, and pray for courage for Fatoumata and Bafo as they return to their villages.

4. God gave us 13 new nurses and nurses aids in February. They are moving along in their training (most of them), and helping us to keep up with our growing staffing needs as we hospitalize more children. Pray that God will continue to bring us Malian nurses as we prepare to open pediatrics.

5. I thank the Lord for my nearby family and a refreshing visit with them this past weekend. I had car troubles along the way, but fortunately did not get stuck in the middle of nowhere. My car is being repaired in Burkina, and my brother kindly let me use his vehicle to get back to Koutiala.