'Break Their Hearts, Lord': Deeply Overwhelmed
By John Schafer
The 700 Club
CBN.com -- Editor's note: This is part four of the story of a CBN producer who left the comforts of home to reach out to the survivors of the tsunami -- and as a result his world was transformed forever.
Moment of Truth
We arrived at the hospital where Operation Blessing and World Harvest had mobilized volunteer nurses and doctors from the States. There was structure and order in the hospital’s routines, schedules, and patient care. People from a specific country manned each ward. The Belgians ran the pediatrics ward, while the Swiss ran the surgical ward, and so on. Our first visit was to the emergency room. Seeing the survivors of the tsunami on television is one thing; being in the same room with them was a completely different experience. It was tough to bear, and being a non-medical person, I felt terribly helpless.
The victims’ faces were drawn and void of emotion. I will never forget their eyes as they looked at me. They were empty and without a glimmer of hope. Some were fighting to live but would succumb to death that day, while others wished they were dead after losing their entire families.
Amidst the oppressiveness, I saw a sliver of hope in a smile from a 5-year-old boy. He was playing with two teddy bears. One of the teddy bears had a T-shirt with the Operation Blessing logo. I sat down next to him. There is no language barrier when a child receives attention. Every gesture is universal. We started to play, and I caught a glimpse of his mother, who began to smile. She came over and sat next to me. I found out from one of the nurses that her husband died in the tsunami. Both the mother and the son were sick, and the doctors were diagnosing their symptoms.
I continued to play with the little boy until our team moved on. As I got up and waved good-bye, the little boy reached for a small box. He opened the box, revealing one piece of candy still in its wrapper. He handed it to me. I didn’t want to take his last piece of candy, so I handed it back to him and told him to save it for later. He handed it back to me, and his mother insisted that I take it. I saw her eyes well up with tears and her lips begin to quiver. I knelt down and hugged her. She placed her face on my shoulder, and I felt a heavy weight leave her. She didn’t want to let go and she began to weep. I remembered Gary Lane’s prayer, “Break their hearts, Lord.” What do you do when a prayer like that is answered? God simply doesn’t break your heart without a purpose and a plan. In our case, God revealed His intentions through opportunities.
The next area we visited was the pediatric ward. Mike and I knew this would be the hardest for us emotionally since we are both fathers. The closer we moved toward the unit, the clearer we could hear the continuous crying. We entered the building and started down the corridor. It was lined with giant windows on each side for viewing into the rooms. Normally, this would be where the newborns are placed. There would be great joy for families as they saw their infant sons and daughters, sisters, and brothers. Today that was not the case. We saw babies whose bones in their arms and legs were completely shattered by the force of the water as their parents clung to them tightly and their little arms and legs flailed and eventually broke. These children suffered wounds from the debris slamming into their heads and bodies.
We gestured to the parents to ask if we could touch their children. Mike and I started to lay hands on and pray over the children and their parents. They knew we were praying and they knew we were Christians. They may not have understood what we were saying, but there was no need for a translator to tell them that we cared about them.
We entered another room where I became overwhelmed. I saw a father collapsed over a baby crib caressing his child’s back. I noticed there was a tube running into the child’s mouth and one in the nostril. I asked Olive to find out their names. The father’s name was Eddie, and his 18-month-old daughter’s name was Sri. He had watched his wife and two sons get swept away and his home destroyed while he held on to Sri. The next day his family’s bodies were recovered. He started to cry. He did not want to loose Sri because she was the only remaining family member. He didn’t even have pictures of his wife or his boys, and he was afraid of loosing their images from his memory. He was afraid that his only child would die. If she lived, he was worried about how he could provide for the both of them.
The nurses administered more Valium into Sri’s IV bag. Olive translated the conversation between Eddie and one of the nurses. Sri had swallowed so much seawater that it was destroying her internally. The Valium was to ease her pain. Sri’s prognosis was not good. For the next 40 minutes, I laid my hands on Sri and prayed fervently that God would heal this precious little girl.
Then a nurse from Virginia told me that Sri had a severe case of scabies and that it was highly contagious. They didn’t have anything they could give me since I’d already been exposed to it. For a fleeting moment, I panicked. Then I remembered what Bo said to me before I came here: “Don’t be afraid of them, and don’t be afraid of the condition they may be in or of getting disease from them.” I turned to the nurse and said, “I’m praying and believing for a miracle for this child, and I know that I will not be afflicted with scabies.” She nodded in agreement. As I am transcribing this document from my journal, I can tell you that the visit with Eddie and Sri took place nine days ago. Praise God! We have not contracted scabies or any other disease to which we were exposed.
Our team was getting ready to leave with a doctor from World Harvest to visit some refugee camps. I asked Olive to ask Eddie if I could pray for him before we left. Olive translated, and Eddie looked at me and nodded. I knelt down, held both of his hands, and began to pray. I heard the Operation Blessing nurse begin to cry behind me. After I finished praying for Eddie, I began to stand up, and he tilted his head upward. His big eyes, brimming with tears, were searching my face. I could tell that he did not want to be left alone, but I needed to leave. I bent down and hugged him. He buried his face in my chest and began to weep. It felt as if Eddie had just released everything that was pent up inside. I continued to embrace him until he was ready to let go, not only let go of me physically but to let go emotionally. When he finally let go, he looked at me and smiled. I know that God touched this man’s heart. We left the hospital and met up with our team.
View a slide show of John's trip to the victims of the tsunami in Indonesia
Read part one -- An American Views Tsunami Aftermath
Read part two -- Lost in Translation
Read part three -- Hiroshima Again
Tomorrow, Part Five: The Final Chapter
You can help the victims of the tsunami -- give to Operation Blessing's tsunami fund today.
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