India (MNN) — Manipur, which borders Burma, sits near the Golden Triangle. The size of New Jersey, it is also one of India's poorest states–a fact made worse by its isolation and continuing trouble with insurgencies.
Faced with eking out a living, medical issues often are ignored until they become critical. Then comes the problem of finding a medical facility within walking distance, where doctors are likely overworked, equipment is failing, and supplies are non-existent.
That's partly why Bibles For the World (BFTW) founder Rochunga Pudaite launched the Sielmat Christian Hospital. Co-founder Mawii Pudaite says, "Next year will be the 50th Anniversary of this little hospital we started with one doctor, one nurse, one pharmacist, and a caretaker. We called it ‘Sielmat Christian Hospital.'"
The facility provides medical care to the remote region, and being one of the only hospitals in the area, they rapidly outgrew their building. A campaign was launched to enlarge and equip the Sielmat Christian Hospital by 60-bed capacity and provide critical equipment necessary to save lives.
In a slight departure from the Bible distribution work for which they are known, BFTW regularly sends medical missions teams to the Sielmat Christian Hospital for 5-day medical camps. Pudaite says, "This was the fourth time we partnered with our friends at Jewish Voice Ministries International (JVMI). They brought doctors, nurses, and volunteers, not only from USA but also 8 from Ethiopia." Word spreads quickly about free treatment. On the most recent visit a couple weeks ago, she says, "The demand is so great, and the ministry is so effective. The people from the city of Imphal and the nearby towns came by bus."
The mission team works hand-in-hand with the ministry partner's doctors, nurses, staff, and volunteers from the nearby churches. In addition, Pudaite explains that "national pastors, evangelists, and students from our own Trinity College and Seminary were engaged as counselors." There were also five nurses and volunteers from the USA BFTW teams.
Despite a full day of surgeries, the team always took time to remember why they were there. Each day before work began, all of the staff, volunteers, and teams from USA, Ethiopia, and India met together to praise and worship the Lord together at the Chapel. The devotional messages, prayers, and worship music nourished their hearts and helped them get ready to face each day's challenge.
The five days went by very quickly, and the camp came to an end even though there were many people still waiting in line. Over 7,000 people were treated, adds Pudaite. "Patients from far and near came to receive free medical attention during the Medical Camp. Among them were Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and others. JVMI's main focus group are the remnants of the 'lost tribe of Manasseh' present among the tribal groups in Manipur."
Teams handed out over 3,000 pairs of free eyeglasses and performed 51 cataract surgeries, as well as 33 major follow-up operations. Exhausting: certainly, Pudaite acknowledges. But the whole reason for being in a remote area became clear when the spiritual needs rounded out the helps picture. "3,461 came for prayer and counseling at the counseling room, and 133 people received Christ as Lord and Savior."
Local churches are busy now in follow-up with new believers, and even as the team participants catch up on their sleep back in their home countries, plans are in the works for yet another medical mission trip. Says Pudaite, next year the Sielmat Christian Hospital will have been active for half a century. Lots of change, and yet, not enough. They'll soon be forming teams. "We have not set the date for next year's Medical Camp. If anyone is interested in coming, we would love to hear from you. Please give us a call at Bibles For The World at 1-888-382-4253, or check our Web site."