December 21, 2009

Please pray

Micah & I attended MTI training with the Ralstons (Art, Danielle and their son Michael) before we came to Slovakia. We became friends and continue to pray for each other and keep in touch. They are serving at the Pioneer Christian Hospital in the Republic of Congo. Please pray for them and the rest of the staff at the Hospital.  I know this is long, and if you don't read the whole letter here is the summary: Our friends and their co-workers are on the edge of a war zone and are asking for your prayers.

Dear Team Members, Friends & Family,

 

    Since October 28, 2009, we have been in a state of heightened security at PioneerChristianHospital here in Impfondo, Congo.  That was the day that we received the first civilian casualties from fresh fighting in Dongo, a town in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  Since October over 77,000 refugees have flooded across the OubanguiRiver into the Likouala Region of Congo from the Equateur Province of DRC. 

 

    We received two more waves of war wounded in November, and hear that more are on the way.  From collateral damage, streams of very sick refugees and residents have been flowing into PioneerChristianHospital for HELP.  Currently more than 50% of our patients need nutritional support, have only the clothes on their backs, and no means to pay for the care we administer.  At the same time, we are trying to stem the tide of a confirmed Swine Flu epidemic that has already taken the lives of 3 of the 10 contagious children.

 

    We are glad to be here doing our best to stretch our limited resources and minister effectively to very real needs, but the stress of being so close to a war zone is starting to take its toll.

 

    Things seem to be getting noticeably worse instead of better.  God knows if things are about to turn around, or descend into complete chaos, but I believe He wants us to be prepared either way.

    A lot has happened just this week:

-        On Tuesday, Laurent Fuka (17 year-old son of our surgeon) arrived home after evacuating from Bwamanda, DRC, where he has been attending boarding school for the last year and a half.  He and 7 classmates spent a week, fleeing from the rebels on foot, pirogue, UN motorboat, and truck.  They had several close encounters on the way.  Before leaving one of Laurent's classmates went to the market to buy some food and was killed by the rebels.
-        Tuesday evening we were called upon to treat two wounded rebels at the government hospital.  One is a 14 year old boy with a bullet in his right humerus.  The other is a 22 year old with a bullet in his buttocks. 
-        Tuesday night some people came to the government hospital looking for the wounded rebels, intent on rendering vigilante justice.  The staff was able to hide the patients, but this significantly delayed them from getting the care they need.
-        Wednesday morning during morning report at PioneerChristianHospital our maintenance staff heard gunshots coming from the river.  This was around the same time a Central African Riverboat was released by the rebels after being held overnight.  Occasional gunshots have been heard several other times this week too.
-        On Thursday local public high school students went on a riotous rampage after the government teachers went on strike instead of administering final exams for the semester.  The students trashed their school, then attacked several private schools in town, beating up other students and staff, destroying classrooms, and smashing computers.  The gendarmes and police were called in and ended up arresting 11 students.
-        Thursday night a river boat and barge hired by the United Nations to bring emergency food rations for the refugees came under repeated attacks from armed men in dugouts, and motorized longboats recently stolen from the UN refugee agency in DRC.  The barge was flying the UN flag and the pusher was flying the Congo-Brazzaville flag.  The attack was finally repelled with support from a Congolese military attack helicopter.

-        Friday we were interviewed about this crisis by a correspondent from Bloomburg News Service.  Maybe it will play on National Public Radio.

-        Friday night a river boat barge loaded with fuel for Impfondo was also attacked.  Congo-Brazzaville government soldiers traveling with the barge opened fire, reportedly killing a number of DRC rebels, whose bodies fell into the river.  The boat arrived in Impfondo this morning with a helicopter escort.

-        Saturday the regular Air Congo flight was postponed, and some people say it is because of the increased military activity downriver from Impfondo.


    I think we have no choice but to raise our security alert level and review and implement emergency planning. 

    I didn't want to write this message.  As far as we know, we are not in immediate danger, but we do need your help.  If you would be willing to join our intercession team to pray for our protection, wage spiritual warfare, and ask for peace on this part of the earth, please send a short message to Danielle Ralston (dralston{at}laborersfortheharvest.com) and let her know what day(s)/time(s) you will be praying

-- 
Danielle Ralston
Communications on behalf of 
Joseph Harvey, MD, MPH&TM, Medical Director
Pioneer Christian Hospital 
Republic of Congo, Impfondo
Cell Phone: 011 (242) 960 6289

1 comment:

Stephen M. James said...

Yeah, in general, the DRC doesn't get many headlines. I didn't even know about the '96-01 war until tonight.

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