A Life on the Line
Early one Monday morning, a woman in the highlands was viciously attacked by her husband. He chopped off one of her forearms and sliced halfway through the other. Rushed by the villagers to a nearby health clinic, the caregivers there attempted to help her. Without a blood transfusion or even antibiotics available, however, they could only put her on a drip and try, ineffectively, to stop the bleeding. They realized they would have to send her on to a fully equipped hospital.
CRMF was just getting out of its morning group devotion at 8:30 a.m. when Justina, our radio operator, took the call from the health centre. She proceeded to call up Mission Aviation Fellowship, New Tribes Mission Aviation, and even the Summer Institute of Linguistics’ aviation department, but they all gave the same response: With clouds dense over this airstrip, there was no getting in to take the injured woman out.
“They were willing to help us,” said Justina, “but they couldn’t get in because of the weather. That was the problem, Monday through Wednesday: the weather.”
Tuesday passed, with CRMF still in contact with both the local health centre and the flight ministries. The woman continued to lose blood, but no one was able to get in to the airstrip. Wednesday came, and she was now in critical condition.
The local radio agent, also the victim’s brother, reported that “her skin has become white.”
Pleading over the radio with Justina, he begged, “Please help us. If you can’t help us, she will die. Please, I don’t want my sister to die.”
However, the weather conditions had not changed.
“We didn’t have hope for who could help us,” shared Justina.
After spending the morning trying to find a solution, she and Susan, another CRMF staff member, climbed up to the office’s conference room.
“I and Susan went up to the room and prayed,” stated Justina, “We shared the verse Luke 6:37, ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ We shared this and we prayed together, and God gave us peace. We went down and continued working; I had God’s grace with me. God would do it in his own time.”
Still in contact with the woman’s distressed brother, Justina encouraged him: “I told him, ‘Still, I will do my best to help your sister. Remain positive; God is a god of doing impossible things. You go back with all your family and pray tonight, and we will pray here, too.’” That night at their homes, several of our staff stayed up. They prayed that someone would be able to fly in to the airstrip the next day. They prayed that the woman would make it through just one more night. They prayed for a miracle.
“That was the first thing I asked when I got on the radio the next morning,” said Justina, “I asked, ‘Is she still alive?’”
The brother responded, “Praise God! Yes, she is still alive!”
That morning, CRMF rang up Adventist Aviation Services (AAS), asking if they could perform the medevac. Their pilots were all out flying at that time, but they assured us that as soon as one came in, they would ask them.
At 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, Brock Merhardt, AAS pilot, landed back on the Goroka airstrip from a completed flight. By 11:45, he was back in the air, headed out to medevac a severely injured woman who had been mutilated by her own husband, then struggled to survive for three days with minimal medical facilities.
“That was the time it was confirmed, 11:45,” said Justina. Now, on the fourth day since the initial call, help was finally arriving.
The medevac arrived back in Goroka at 1:45 p.m. AAS arranged for a vehicle to transfer the woman, along with the health centre worker who had accompanied her, from the airport to the Goroka General Hospital. Justina was able to see her there soon after she arrived and reported that the hospital was stabilizing her in preparation to operate.
“God did this,” Justina commented. Summarizing, she told me, “HF radio is very important. It gives communication, it gives life, and it is giving God glory.”