By Brunhilde Luken
I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send? Isaiah 6:8
For the time between 1997 and 1999 my husband accepted a position as general manager for an American company in Penang, Malaysia. I was studying art at the time, so this was a perfect opportunity to study Chinese brushstroke.
After careful planning, off we went to Penang, Malaysia. We both like adventures. This step was somewhat scary but also exciting. Malaysia is a totally different world. For the people there the world was constantly changing. Many western companies produce their products in Asia expecting a lower production cost.
Our greeting at the Penang airport was very special. There were many company representatives, ladies and gentlemen in their local traditional colorful clothing waiting for our arrival. With many bows and bouquets of fresh and beautiful orchids, and more bows, we were ready to be taken to a hotel where most of the people except the servants were westerners. It is the only place where the waiter when he brings you fresh carrot juice will stay next to you and hold it between his hands until the juice is not too cold anymore for you. Between the many wonderful experiences and the not so good ones, we adjusted. Shortly later we were moved to a wonderful apartment right by the ocean. Our furniture arrived and also a full time maid.
My time as a housewife was much reduced and I was free to choose how to spend my time. I studied Chinese brushstroke with a local Chinese. He was a great teacher. I also joined a church and a bible study group, the so called “Homemaker group”. This group of wonderful Chinese ladies was a great help to me. Besides taking part in a step-aerobic class, I joined an international group of ladies. These women were quite active in the community involved in many charities. I greatly admired their spirit, especially that of our American women.
With this group I went on a visit to the hospital for the poor. This was for me the biggest eye opener.
The head nurse, the woman in charge, took us around. There was poverty everywhere. The patients had to wash their own sheets and towels. It was no wonder there were many sicknesses that where spread. Here I don’t like to go into detail. I am sure over the last 10 years many things have improved.
All of a sudden I remember only the nurse and me looking down at a woman on a cot, totally bare and face down, her name was Siti (not her real name). At that moment I lost track of the rest of the group. The nurse pointed out a hole in Siti’s back, large enough to put your fist in. She went on to tell me Siti will never walk again. She is only in her early 30s, has two little girls and a husband, no money. She was examined and the doctors found there were absolutely no feelings from her waist down. There was nothing they could do for her. Since she had no money, she had to go to the hospital for the poor. I was overcome by a deep sadness and felt much compassion for Siti.
At that moment the world stood still for me and I heard this whisper “you can help her”. I answered “yes”.
I touched her arm, said a quiet prayer and asked the nurse if she would allow me to visit Siti on a more regular basis. She said “oh yes, please”. At sundown Siti had to be carried to her bed. In the daytime she was put in the sun face down on her cot. I had enough knowledge to know that this could be tuberculosis. We were informed that in these parts of the world you have to be especially careful.
From this point on I did not see much else. My mind was racing and praying. Now that I said yes, what do I do? Prayer, pray a lot. This was my biggest help. I knew if anybody can help her, it was the Lord.
I bought vitamins, consulting with a local pharmacist, I also bought lots of bananas. I know bananas are a great food and easy to digest. The nutrition at the hospital was not too good. It was very painful to only focus on Siti, knowing there was so much need all around her. My focus was Siti. We had to lock up the extra food and vitamins. I decided even if I help one, this is very important. She was so young. The head nurse was very cooperative and made sure she received her vitamins daily.
I visited with Siti many days, always praying with her, touching and massaging her legs. I also told her to touch her legs as often as she could and pinch them as hard as she could and asking the Lord to heal her. I told Siti she would go home again. I pleaded with her not to believe that she would not heal and never walk again, as she was told. Sometimes when I visited with her, after asking her if she is working hard, she said “oh, I have been lazy” This was a bit frustrating. I did not give up. She was a Muslim. At one time after working with her and praying, she told me, your God is my God. I told her there is only one God. He will help you if you allow Him to, but you must believe that He can do it.
As time past, she got better and better. She was taken to a different local hospital for re-examination where doctors found that her feelings in her legs had returned. She was so excited and arranged for me to meet her husband and daughters. I felt very humbled, because I knew that on my own I did nothing. A group of people where she worked before she got ill purchased a wheelchair for her. She was now able to lift herself into the wheel chair. Her hole in her back was almost closed. She continued to heal.
On a day when I visited with Siti, the nurse took me aside and asked if she could show me another poor soul, a young man who was just in a motorcycle accident. She then asked me if I could do the same with him as I did with Siti. I told her I would try. When she took me to him, he was only little responsive. I put my hands on him and prayed for him. I did not hear this little voice saying “you can help him”. On my next visit I brought him vitamins and some nutritional food and prayed with him again, but he was still not responsive. The next time I went to see him I was told he was relocated to a different hospital,
The time came for me to say good-bye to the many wonderful people I had met in Penang. I also went to the home for the poor to say good-bye to Siti. The day I got there I was told she was home on a visit with her husband and children. I was sorry I could not give her a last big hug and share in the joy with her and her family. All I could say was “Praise the Lord”
I hope I will always be one to hear the small voice when it calls for me to take action.