Out of Hiding and into Hope

9th October 2023

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An obstetric fistula, resulting from prolonged labour, is not a condition women often face in the United Kingodm or other western countries. Yet, in many parts of the world this serious and debilitating childbirth injury leaves women with pain, shame, and isolation. Samaritan’s Purse specialty teams perform transformative surgeries, restoring these suffering women to health while opening doors to share the hope of the Gospel. Kristy Graham sat down with Madison Strausbaugh, the specialty team’s programme manager, who shared what it was like to see these women go from living in isolation to finding hope and community.

Kristy Graham, host of On the Ground with Samaritan’s Purse, sat down with Madison Strausbaugh, the specialty team’s programme manager for World Medical Mission. Our specialty teams travel to faraway places to perform life-changing surgeries where there’s a lack of access to medical care. Madison shared how Samaritan’s Purse is using the treatment of obstetric fistulas to share the Gospel.

“This entire programme, the Lord has just really had His hand on.” —Madison

Obstetric fistulas, which are caused by prolonged, obstructed labour, are not an issue in western countries, but for women without access to proper medical care, this is a common debilitating condition. Women who suffer from this injury are left with the humiliating urine or stool leak and are often cut off from their communities and deemed unclean.

“In some cultural settings, husbands leave them because they’re no longer clean. And they’re very ostracised in society. They don’t go to the marketplaces; they don’t go to church. They really stop doing life.” —Madison

Because of this isolation, these women are extremely hard to locate. Madison talked about the process of seeking out these women. The team ran radio and TV announcements to alert women of the campaign, which proved to be effective.

Madison described the women before surgery as stoic and tearful, as some have lived with this condition for decades. After surgery, they radiate joy. The women reside in a facility near the health center as they recover. The healing process after surgery takes time, but they are immersed in community with women who are going through the exact same thing. During their stay, they learn invaluable life skills such as sewing. Most importantly, they spend extended time in the Word of God. The women receive audio Bibles and have devotions together daily.

“And I think we really saw success in that campaign, not just in numbers, but more so through the love of Christ. And the women reportedly said, ‘we’ve seen the love of Christ through you. We felt the hand of God. We’ve never been loved like this.’” —Madison

Madison talked about how excited these women were to experience the little things in life, now that they are healed—like getting to church early and sitting in the front. These surgeries are transformational not only physically, but spiritually. As these women return home, some are met with persecution. A goal of these specialty teams is to help ground these women in the love of Jesus Christ and the hope of the Gospel, so that regardless of how they are received by their families and communities, they know they have the ultimate hope acceptance.

Please continue to pray for these women who have received obstetric fistula surgery and returned to their communities. Pray for the Samaritan’s Purse specialty teams as they plan and prepare for future campaigns.

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