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The Linleys are working in partnership with AIM at the Good News Hospital in Mandritsara. Here they share how the hospital is involved in sharing the gospel.
Madagascar is a vast island, the fourth largest in the world, and almost three times the size of Great Britain. The population is around 25 million, over half of whom are under the age of 15. Madagascar was originally settled by people from both Africa and Asia, and these different influences have combined in the animistic religious beliefs of many of the people here. There are 18 distinct people groups, one of which is the Tsimihety people.
Mandritsara is the heartland of the Tsimihety people, an unreached people group occupying a large part of northern Madagascar. The Good News Hospital in Mandritsara was set up in partnership with the Bible Baptist Churches in Madagascar with a vision to reach the surrounding population with the gospel, through the provision of healthcare.
Alive to worship
Joseph first arrived at the Good News Hospital in 2010, suffering with liver disease from bilharzia, causing a build up of water in his abdomen (ascites). He is from a village near here, but was working in Sambava on the northeast coast at the time he became ill, and walked 300km back for treatment at the Good News Hospital. He has been coming back regularly since then and has been admitted on several occasions after vomiting large quantities of blood, requiring emergency blood transfusions. He is typical of many of the patients we see here at the hospital, struggling to survive, even during times of better health. He and his wife, Sanasy, live in the yard of someone in town, working as guards and selling charcoal to enable them to buy some rice and send their three young children to school. Joseph told us recently that he comes to the Good News Hospital because the staff know what they are doing, they are merciful towards the sick, and they are clear witnesses of God’s love. Joseph is thankful that having treatment means that he can live and work and worship God.
The love of God
This is exactly what has been happening for the last 20 years. Every day there are gospel talks in the different hospital wards in the local dialect and the Christian staff are encouraged to share their faith with patients and their families. Gospel tracts are distributed, evangelistic films in the local language are shown, and the love of God is demonstrated to patients through compassionate and high quality care.
Among children we see a lot of malnutrition, pneumonia, malaria and gastroenteritis. TB and parasites cause huge problems. Chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes are also becoming more of a problem. Access to surgery in Madagascar is very limited and our two surgeons are kept very busy, undertaking more than 1,500 operations last year. Providing healthcare to this dispersed and largely rural population is a huge challenge. The hospital’s reputation has grown over the years and patients travel from all over northern Madagascar to visit. Often patients have walked or been carried for four or five days to get here.
The hospital’s Community Health Team also go out on foot, by bike, bush taxi, Land Rover or helicopter, and God has used a combination of community health provision and gospel proclamation to build his Church in this region. Through contact made by the hospital, the Community Health Team or the local Baptist church, there are now over 70 church groups meeting in towns and villages up to 150km from Mandritsara.
In partnership with the local church, the leaders of these groups are being trained for ministry and have organised themselves into groups of 10 -15 churches who meet monthly in the dry season for fellowship, teaching and outreach to different communities within their area.