The distant sound of an explosion awoke me early one morning. Having heard such noises in the past, I attributed it to a large firecracker and went back to sleep.
About half an hour later, people started gathering around the clinic. As I finished my breakfast and went outside, three men walked up. The one in the middle, Kelu` Ulu, had his hand wrapped in a blood-soaked t-shirt. They told me he had been building a small pig-hunting bomb, and it had detonated in his hand. My heart began to race. We were in the middle of a jungle far from any hospital or surgeon. What would I do if his hand was a mangled mess or missing entirely? I quickly went to find a hemostat to clamp an artery if need be. Then I gloved up and faced my patient, who looked dazed and worried. I prayed for strength to help me face whatever I found under that bloody shirt.
Carefully, I unwrapped the shirt from Kelu` Ulus hand. To my great relief, the injuries I found seemed manageable. His first four fingers were lacerated. His middle finger was injured the worst. The last inch of it dangled from a narrow piece of tissue. I took a deep breath and mentally reviewed the steps for treating trauma patients. Kelu` Ulu told me his eyes hurt as well, and his vision was blurry. My heart sank as I examined his eyes and saw they had been peppered with bits of bomb debris. However, after more questioning and closer examination, it became apparent that God had spared his vision. The spots on his eyes were just gunpowder burns that would eventually heal.
As I sutured the lacerated hand, I left the middle finger for last. As I began to study the middle finger, thinking I would have to amputate some of the bone and sew it up, I felt impressed to suture the dangling piece back on rather than amputate it. It took a considerable amount of time, but Kelu` Ulu was very pleased with my efforts.
While I was suturing, I learned that Kelu` Ulu was one of the head elders in the area and also a practicing witchdoctor. After giving him antibiotics, I asked if we could pray with him. To my surprise, he agreed, and all the student missionaries prayed that his hand would be healed. Before he left, Kiana reminded him that, if his finger did heal, it was because of God, not anything we had done.
Over the next five days, Kelu` Ulu came back for dressing changes. His finger kept looking worse and worse, and I thought I would have to amputate the tip after all. The day I was supposed to take his stitches out, he did not show up. I suspected he was avoiding me so I wouldnt tell him I had to remove the end of his finger.
A few weeks later, I saw Kelu` Ulu at the Sunday market and was able to examine his finger. To my amazement, it had healed, and he had taken the stitches out himself! I praised God and reminded Kelu` Ulu that God had healed his finger.
Kelu` Ulu is still regaining strength in this hand, and his middle finger has not regained its full motion, but God definitely performed a miracle for him. Please pray for Kelu` Ulu and his family as they ponder this evidence of the Christs power and love. May it lead them to a decision to accept Him as their Savior.