Friday, February 28, 2008
Armur, Andhra Pradesh, India
We didn’t really know what to expect of our meeting with Dr. Madhu. The local pastor told us that Dr. Madhu wanted to meet with us. “Is he a believer?” we asked? No… but he’s “interested,” our pastor-friend told us. That was good enough for us, so we went to see him.
You could see he was very proud of his hospital. While some of his surgeon-colleagues stayed in the mega-city of Hyderabad, where the money is good and the standard of living quite a bit higher, Dr. Madhu built a hospital in Armur, a small city of … maybe 60,000, with a family residence on the top floor.
Dr. Madhu wasn’t quite sure what to do with us when we met him. So he started with a safe place. The board room, on the first floor just beyond the patient waiting area. I could see lots of diplomas and certificates on the wall, along with pictures and awards… and a long banner announcing something in Telegu. When we asked him about it he giggled shyly. You could see it meant a lot to him, but he was not the kind to brag or make a spectacle either.
After another uncomfortable moment of not knowing what to do next… he did what doctors do. He went on rounds. And he invited us along. Dave and I grabbed our hearts to keep them beating, not knowing what we were about to see in this third world hospital that looked like a movie clip out of an 18th century hospital. We walked into a large room, with eight beds, four on each side… filled with men who had dazed looks in their eyes and bandages on various parts of their bodies. They were the lucky ones. They would walk away, and live. Next to every bed sat their women, dressed in colorful saris, attending to their needs. Praying for them. All filled with hope. And overly eager to engage with the “white men” who entered their stories.
Dr. Madhu showed us the bloody-bandaged toe of a diabetic man. He was quite sure he would be able to save the toe. That way the man could continue to walk and use his legs and maintain his livelihood through work. Next we came upon a man whose scrotum had swollen to the size of a basketball. The doc showed us pictures of it on his cell phone—his only camera. He was quite pleased with the man’s progress because the skin graft that he had performed was now taking 100%. With the man’s legs spread far apart to allow the air to heal it, the doc snapped another picture from about 12 inches away. He was keeping a pictorial record of the progress. It seemed rude. But then… he was saving the man’s life and documenting it for others to learn. A humanitarian move. “By grace we have not had one infection since we opened this hospital,” the doc proudly told us.
“By Grace.” After looking around on all three floors I would conclude the same thing—it’s by grace. It smelled very clean, even though the walls and floor lacked the pristine cleanliness of our hospitals, and even though the ventilator on the 2nd floor looked like it had been recovered from the back shelf of a 1970’s medical equipment warehouse. People were being saved. Diseases were being conquered. Life was being restored. Families were being preserved. No wonder I had sensed a spirit of hopeful-joy when we entered the hospital compound. Yes… it was “by grace” alright. God’s grace… no doubt about it, in my mind.
The doctor was “interested” in what we were doing because he could see it operating in his own life. He just didn’t know by what Name to call it yet. In the meantime, his pastor-friend, a member of his hospital foundation board, was showing his surgeon-friend grace. And praying for him and his work.
Dr. Madhu continues his one-man crusade to bring healing and life to desperate Indians in small villages where medical help is all but non-existent. Every month Dr. Madhu and some of his colleagues and staff travel out over a weekend to a small, isolated village. They set up a make-shift O.R. in an elementary school, prescreen people on Saturday, operate on Sunday, change bandages and give remaining meds out on Monday. Then they pack up and head back home for daily rounds in the hospital.
Dr. Madhu is a remarkable man. I give thanks to God for his heart… and his work. I pray for him to know the Lord of the Universe, his Partner with whom he toils day and night, without fully knowing. The Lord accomplishes His work through whomever God chooses. Because God is a God of healing and salvation. I’m thankful God has chosen me too. I’m proud to serve Him. And I continue to wait for my next set of orders from the King.