I have seen hope. Hope for life! It is here in Pakistan.
Few things are more compelling and, at times, as agonizing as the hope parents have for their children. They hope for their health, their education, their future. When pregnant, a woman hopes for the safe birth of her child. Many others, of course, anxiously hope simply to have children. Many indeed are the needs and hopes of people, but this hope is truly universal. All people everywhere hope for their children. They hope for life. But these are hopes that, by themselves, they are entirely unable to fulfill. They need a bigger hope, the kind that only the God of hope can give.
I am writing this in the season of Lent, in a country where there is much that is dark, life-stealing, and hopeless. I have come, however, to a place in this country that knows and makes known in a very special way the hope that we have because of Easter. It is a shining light in a dark place. Here is found the hope of life!
By the grace and protection of God, Christian Hospital Tank (CHT), in Tank, Pakistan, has ministered in this challenging part of the world for 153 years. WMPL has partnered with the hospital for 70 of those years! Along with two of my coworkers, I traveled here to attend a special meeting of the CHT Board of Directors. Due to the pandemic, it has been three years since our representatives to the board were last able to attend in person. During that time, we prayed fervently for the hospital and its staff, knowing the tremendous challenges they face, and being unable to see things for ourselves. Now, as four days of very fruitful meetings have concluded with a time of deep prayer together, I’m happy to report that now we have seen things for ourselves, and we have seen hope. We have seen God’s hope overflowing from this truly unique Christian ministry into the largely non-Christian community that surrounds it.
Over the years CHT has provided a range of medical services in the name of Jesus. Currently, however, it is especially equipped for and focused on what has long been its forte: the care of mothers-to-be, and the delivery and health of babies. Operating the only infant incubators in the region, it is where nearly all newborns at risk are brought for treatment. People come to this place with their greatest and most anxious hopes. The primary health concern men bring to the hospital is infertility. Women with painful histories of miscarriages routinely confess to the doctors, “I have come with full hope.” Clearly, when citizens of this region have hopes for children and new life, they know where to come. They come to Christian Hospital Tank.
After they enter the CHT compound, those seeking help find a hospital staff eager and well-equipped to do their part in fulfilling their hopes. They are well-equipped because of their training, but also because they prayerfully trust the One who alone is the God of hope, real hope, the hope of life! During the last few years most expatriate workers have left for various reasons. In their place, however, God has called together an impressive team of Pakistani physicians, nurses, and administrators, along with their families, to serve him in this remote location where security is always a concern. They are indeed mission workers in their own country. They know they are called to this and they very much know the One who has called them. Every morning they first gather for worship and prayer before ministering to their patients. Their children attend the wonderful school on the compound, where they learn and play together with the children of the non-Christian hospital workers.
Yesterday evening, at the close of the board’s hard-working but encouraging sessions, all of the workers, Christian and non-Christian, were invited to gather under a large tent for music, fellowship, and dinner. I was asked to preach at this event, and thankfully the Lord led me to a specific passage.
Quoting from and expounding upon Romans 15:13, I left them all with this blessing: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)
“Know and trust fully in the promises made by the God of hope,” I told them, “and he will so fill you with joy and peace that the hope he has given you will overflow into Tank, into the region, and into all of Pakistan!”
There is great hope for life in Pakistan! It is God’s hope! I have seen it at CHT. Let’s pray that it will overflow!