I believe I’m learning one of the biggest lessons of my life. I’m learning what it means to die with her. Can I save her?…No. Can I turn thing around and make it all better?…No. All I can do is be with her. All I can do is feel with her. All I can do is cry with her. All I can do is go through the process of dying with her.
I didn’t expect her situation to affect me in the way it did. I’m not good with death and I’m usually good about keeping my distance when things seem hopeless, but God did not let me escape this one. In fact, I believe He is asking me to walk through the process of dying with her. Who is she? Her name is Dudu, and she is the 26 year-old woman who offered to give away her baby last week.
It all started last Wednesday when her aunt came to us and asked if we would drive Dudu to the hospital. We knew that the virus had already progressed to AIDS and that TB was quickly taking away all her strength and energy. She was skin and bones and was unable to control her body from twitching.
My heart broke on the way home. What if it was me? What if I was Dudu? What if I had AIDS and was suffering from TB and my only hope of transportation to the hospital just walked away without looking back? What would that mean for me and what would that mean for my four month old baby? As much as I tried, I couldn’t stop the tears.
Friday morning I woke up early with heaviness weighing me down. I decided I need to go for a run and forced myself to get up. While I was running I suddenly saw a huge giraffe standing on the opposite side of the road about 10 yards away from me. It was huge and it was beautiful and it was an answer to prayer. I have been asking God if He loves me for the past two weeks and I kept asking for a sign. I wanted Him to send me a giraffe. For two weeks God was silent, and now when all my hope was gone… He gave me my giraffe.
When I got back to the campsite, Krystle came running up to me and told me that Pastor Gift wanted someone to accompany Dudu to the hospital and we had to go to the Community Center as soon we could. We rushed to get there and before we left for the hospital Pastor Gift expressed his heart to our group. He explained that there is a lot of hopelessness in this place, but God has called us to a ministry of presence. We need to simply be here for those who are dying. He said that the hospital will not save Dudu from dying, but if she wants to go we need to bring her. He said it is his goal to bring her all the dignity and respect he can before she dies. Then he said the one thing that will stick with me for a long time. He said, “We can’t save her, but we can die with her….we need to learn to die with her.”
That day I decided to start dying with Dudu. With her strength completely gone, her burdens quickly became our burdens as Krystle and I carried her from room to room, from doctor to doctor. The diagnosis was devastating. The doctors said she had been mistreated for TB and she was now around stage IV instead of stage II, and to make things worse she also had developed meningitis. It was a long day of emotions, tears, and pain, but I was wrong…I was wrong to think that there is no hope.
Our bodies may die, but those who put their trust in Jesus will live in eternity with Him. Dudu believes in God and has accepted the salvation that comes through believing in Jesus. She knows that in a few short days she will finally be healed from all her suffering. I believe right now that Jesus is standing beside her and holding her hand, and when she is ready He will walk with her into the presence of God. We often wonder why God doesn’t change the world, but He has.
I will continue to die with Dudu until the Lord calls her home.