“This was just such a revelation. And nobody can ever say to us again, ‘It’s not for our time.’ We now have seen and experienced it. And it’s very emotional to see the change before and after,” nurse Lenie Coetzer says.
“We can’t put any of this in a box. You can’t even begin to describe it. Chris and I would walk from the prayer room that first time like, ‘Did we really see this? Is this really happening?’” nurse Nicky Tiltman says.
Nurses with OM Lake Tanganyika have discovered a new kind of medicine—a kind of medicine with an ancient history. It’s so powerful that for the present time they are leaving all other conventional medicine behind when they go on medical outreach trips.
Since the beginning of 2013, it has been the goal of the medical team to go on two medical outreaches per month. Usually the team loads up its boat with medical supplies and then heads out to the rural villages, where it sees 150 to 170 patients on average per trip.
After each trip, the team holds a debriefing session. They’ve identified a common theme throughout the sessions: Why isn’t the health situation in the villages changing?
Tiltman says, “Every time we’ve gone back to the same village or a similar village, it’s the same picture over and over again.”
The nurses have seen the same patients in the same villages with the same problems trip after trip. They diagnose symptoms and hand out medicine, but where is the long-term change? Were the villagers making up symptoms to try to get something for free? What was happening?
It was time for a change in strategy and heart. God confirmed to each nurse that He was asking them to take a step of faith and reach out to the people with a new medicine: prayer. It was time for the team to place their faith in the Lord over their faith in modern medicine and to address the spiritual problems of the people rather than just the physical.
During the next outreach to Tongwa village in Zambia, the nurses left their medicine and supplies at the base, and the only thing they went with was their faith in the Lord. He didn’t let them down.
A prayer room was established, in which a team of missionaries gathered to treat patients—and many people were miraculously healed, such as the village’s community health evangelist, whose foot had hurt for several months. She could barely walk.
Coetzer held the woman's foot in her hand while she and others prayed that Jesus would bring healing. According to Coetzer, while she prayed, she felt in her hands “cracking” and “movements” inside the foot. The community health evangelist felt it too.
“She jumped up and down after that, where [before] she couldn’t walk for weeks,” Coetzer says.
During the next medical outreach, the team travelled to Chipwa village and again decided to leave the modern medicine at the base and depend completely upon the Lord. Just as in Tongwa village, many people were miraculously healed.
According to Coetzer, a young woman of approximately 15 years of age came complaining of back pains. It was obvious from a quick physical inspection that she suffered from scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine. One shoulder drooped much lower than the other, “totally skew,” as Coetzer put it.
The team prayed together for healing for several minutes.
“And then we let her stand, and her shoulders were straight!" Coetzer says. "We sort of didn’t believe it, so we made her sit. It was straight as can be. And then the pastor there of one of the churches sat with her and led her to Jesus. That was just amazing."
During the latest medical outreach to Nsovwe village, the team prayed for and encouraged a very anemic woman. Shortly after she went home, her husband, who was known as being the town drunk and a very “difficult man,” said he noticed a change in her. He asked several members of the team to come over to his house—something most villagers were afraid to do. The team shared the gospel with him, and he decided to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior.
Watching God heal people has been quite a learning experience for the nurses. According to Coetzer, “What we learned is the authority we have in Jesus. Him in us. We in Him. You don’t have to be a special person or specially anointed or stirred up. You just have to believe God’s Word.”
Tiltman admits that seeing God at work through the prayer outreaches has increased her faith “one hundredfold.”
“I’ve heard stories all my life of God doing stuff ‘round the world, but to actually physically see it is just something else,” she says.
Coetzer says the new season the medical team is in is “exciting” and “challenging.” She is torn about how and when to use modern medicine now.
“Yes, we still want medicine, but we will depend on God more now. Before, we depended on the medicine. Yes, we prayed. We prayed before the trip. We pray[ed] after the trip. We pray[ed] for patients when we [saw] them. But our mindset was medicine. Now there’s a different focus.”
“The miracles we really did see were things that we of ourselves with our nursing skills and our drugs could not have helped in that healing process. They were things that really needed a miraculous intervention,” Tiltman says.
What the Lord is doing through the medical outreaches will greatly help the long-term work of changing the villages. According to Coetzer, “People must be changed spiritually before they will listen to teachings about how to live healthy lives. So we know that as God changes these people from the inside, they will become more fertile for the health education and change in lifestyle [that we teach].”