Woodrow Featured Image

During these days of the COVID-19 crisis, we are inundated with dark and discouraging news.  For the staff here at HeartCry, it is particularly painful to have a global perspective on the suffering of saints around the world due to the virus.  Every once in a while, a bright spot of encouraging news appears in our correspondence from the field.  

A month ago, in early March, Dr. Charles Woodrow from Mozambique visited the HeartCry office.  Paul Washer interviewed this faithful brother about medical missions performed in a biblical manner.  If you haven’t seen the interview, please take time to watch it below.  Dr. Woodrow eventually paused his medical missions work to focus for many years on theological training for pastors.  In the last few years, he has turned his focus once again to making a million-dollar medical facility, provided by God, actually operational.  This has been a long and arduous journey of acquiring necessary equipment, looking for doctors to staff the hospital, and slogging through the endless red tape of African bureaucracy.  

Our God works all things for the good of His people and to fulfill His wise purposes.  It seems that the Lord may be using the COVID-19 crisis to speed up the process of getting Dr. Woodrow’s hospital operational.  On Good Friday I received the following surprising email from Dr. Woodrow.  It’s a long read, but how amazing to watch God’s hand at work!

A Visit from the Provincial Government

“Just to keep you informed of what is happening in Nampula, I was told yesterday evening that the Secretary of State for Nampula would be visiting us this morning.  I did not realize that the Secretary of State was the new title for the provincial governor appointed by the federal government.  I was not told either that the elected governor (like a U.S. state governor, but below the Secretary of State in authority) was also coming – then I would have realized this was an important visit to be accompanied by a large retinue of dignitaries and the press.  I only learned from my workers one hour before the visit the implications of having the Secretary of State for the province come to see the facility.

Entourage Arrives
The entourage arrives

But our men already had the property and the hospital in excellent condition, without knowing that we were to receive such an important delegation.  We thank God for this!  The hospital and property could have been found ill-prepared and much less impressive.  Instead, all was in mint condition.

We quickly put sheets and pillows on the beds so the hospital looked like a functioning health center, and were ready when the visitors arrived.  The party was larger than I had expected even after being informed who the Secretary of State for the province was.  God blessed and it went well despite the lack of careful planning.  

The visit occurred because the health authorities have determined that they want to make use of our facility in their COVID response, but the other officials need to be involved in the decision.  For our hospital, it was a grand opportunity to show off the excellent facility we have, and the governors did not shrink from declaring that they were much impressed.  Everyone wants the building to begin functioning as originally intended as soon as possible, even if the virus is halted.  

Meeting Gov Officials
L to R: Secretary of State, Provincial Governor, Dr. Woodrow, Provincial Chief Doctor

The chief governor said he can arrange authorization for us to go to Johannesburg and fetch the load of materials we had to leave there when the borders closed, along with whatever else we can collect to bring back to support the hospital in the weeks ahead.  He says they will get all the O2 tanks we need to keep the oxygen bank functioning at full capacity – we need 8 tanks connected at a time, with another 8 tanks in reserve.  

I submitted my letter requesting appointment as the hospital director this morning and hope that this will happen after the meeting today.  In it I explained the importance of an official relationship between our facility and the health department with substantiating documents so that I can approach the embassies in Maputo for whatever assistance they can provide.

I am hopeful that we can get funding for all the remaining equipment needed for the hospital – installation of our dedicated transformer, essential before hooking up expensive electronic machines; a generator sufficient to power the whole facility when city power goes off (essential with patients on ventilators); and at least two 10 thousand liter tanks for back up water supply when city water is not working. Then there are the supplies we need for treating the patients – meds, lab equipment, hospital equipment (if any can be had now).  

Touring Hospital
Touring the Hospital

I do not know what will come of this, or how much help and financing we may be able to receive from the embassies, but there is reason to be hopeful.  Certainly we are garnering much good will on the part of health officials, the government, and the population at large.  The press was excited – this is a big story for them and I suppose a ray of hope that something can be done to help people in Nampula who become seriously ill with the virus.  I was not even thinking of potential benefit to us when I offered the hospital, but I can see that God may use this to propel us ahead quickly with the medical ministry.  May the Lord make the facility useful to the patients health wise and allow us to preach the gospel and potentially help many dying people gain eternal life by that means.”

A Visit from the UN and Ministry of Health

On Monday another exciting update came:
“Sunday afternoon a team of technicians from the Central Hospital visited our facility to organize the test of our in-wall oxygen lines.  They determined they needed special supplies from 100 miles away, so the test is being delayed.  But I was pleased to hear that our installation is completely compatible with the Central Hospital system, so everything needed is already available for putting our O2 and vacuum lines into service once they are flushed and tested. 

Today two more teams came by.  In the morning the team included a representative from UNICEF.  The UN is providing financial and equipment assistance for the temporary COVID facilities and wanted to know what we needed to make ours completely functional.  I mentioned two 10,000 ltr water tanks and a pump to provide adequate water pressure.  I also mentioned that we had only a trash pit, no incinerator.  He wrote these things down and this afternoon told me was already soliciting this material from the UN.  I did not know his purpose in visiting was to obtain what we needed.  I trust all that material will remain with us after the COVID situation passes.  The sanitation inspector from the health department was with him, as well as the public works inspector.  They checked all our bathrooms, in-room sinks, etc. and were also very pleased.

Press Involved
Dr. Woodrow interviewed by local press

In the afternoon, the Central Hospital brought representatives visiting from the Ministry of Health to see our hospital.  One was a pulmonary doctor (lung specialist, of which Mozambique has only three).  The other visitor was from the very department in Maputo that is handling the authorization of our Memorandum of Understanding with the Health Ministry.  Like the others who have come by, the pulmonary doctor was impressed.  He said our facility was “spectacular!”  He consults in the most prestigious private hospital in the country, located in the capital, but he was very impressed with the facility God has granted to us!

The great benefit for us, which I had not imagined when we offered the facility to the health department, is that now our hospital is getting favorable attention from even as far away as the capital.  After many years, the Lord is putting our facility on the map in a surprising, sudden, and impressive way.  Even before approaching any embassies, it appears we are already getting equipment we have long needed to pass inspection, which I would imagine will stay with us when all this is past.

I am grateful for these developments, which have been such a surprise to me.  I do hope this is the Lord’s way of catapulting our hospital into service, that now is the Lord’s time which we have been praying and working and waiting for all these years.  We here in Nampula are wondering if, when COVID is past, we might simply carry on as a surgical hospital without ever closing again.  I will need to have a short term surgeon come to help make that happen, but with some assistance it seems it may be possible to soon launch the hospital-evangelistic work.”

Author

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Before his current role at HeartCry, S.R. served several years in pastoral ministry, and a few years in Zambia, Africa as a missionary.  He is also a veteran of the Marine Corps. S.R. and his wife have been blessed with 3 children and 4 grandchildren. They live near Christiansburg, VA in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, where he enjoys deer hunting and fly-fishing for trout.

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