Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much clothe you, O you of little faith? ~ Matthew 6:30, NKJV

One of the first patients I saw while serving as interim surgeon at the Mugonero Mission Hospital in Rwanda was Nkwanda, a young lady recovering from complications of childbirth. Following extensive surgery for the removal of infected remnants of afterbirth and other dead and dying tissues, Nkwanda lay in a pool of urine on her bed, totally incontinent.

Each day as I made hospital rounds, Nkwanda begged me to do whatever was necessary to fix the problem; and each day I reminded her of the high risks involved and the unlikely possibility of obtaining a satisfactory result so soon after her previous surgery. However, I also knew that this was Nkwanda’s only opportunity for help, without which she would spend the remainder of her days in misery. How could I refuse to give it my best shot?

Having committed her to God, and while pleading for wisdom and skill, I prepared for the nearly impossible task before me. Carefully, I searched through the collection of donated suture materials, catheters, and other supplies until I found something I thought might work. Meticulously, I dissected the still inflamed tissues, attempting to identify the anatomy and discover the true nature of the defect needing repair. After what seemed like hours, I was able to identify the large defect in the posterior wall of her bladder and to perform a tenuous closure.

The next morning on my rounds, Nkwanda was all smiles. While rejoicing with her and the staff at the apparently good outcome, I knew that she was still not out of the woods. My spirits were better when, on day two, Nkwanda was still dry, and the catheters were functioning as planned. Again on day three, our spirit soared! On day four, as I made my final rounds before my departure from Rwanda, I noticed there was no urine in the collecting bag and that Nkwanda was again wet and sad.

I left Rwanda that day – dejected, discouraged, and wondering where was this God to Whom I had dedicated my life and services, the One I had believed could give complete healing to this poor lady, and into Whose care I had committed her.

I returned to my urban Chicago surgical practice but could not remove from my mind the sad disaster that had befallen this child of God in Rwanda, a land that so recently had been subjected to genocide.

Months later, I received an email from Mark – the student nurse who had been my interpreter and helper in Rwanda. “I saw your patient, Nkwanda, at the hospital. She is completely healed.” The message was short and to the point.

Even as I write this story, now several years later, tears well up in my eyes as I recall the goodness of my God who knows every sparrow that falls.

Walter Thompson, LLUSM class of 1961, is a family practice surgeon in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.