When the driver dropped me in the campus I thought I was in the middle of a jungle. It was July – raining, wet and humid – and all the trees were fully grown and very green.
I had come by train from the Christian Medical College in Ludhiana where I had trained for five years as a dental surgeon. Before I left Ludhiana I had heard rumours of raucous patients carrying guns and about staff who had fled. People had told me stories of snakes and creepy crawlies at this Christian Hospital. What was I doing here? Why had I come? After meeting some people and having food in the Mess, things seemed slightly better but there was still no electricity.
The next morning I started work. My first patient was a lady with an impaction. This is a tooth that has not fully erupted so it’s imbedded in the bone and the gums. Before I’d left Ludhiana my College Principal had given me a crash course on certain surgical procedures. So I asked the patient if she could come again in two or three days to give me time to revise. But she had come a long way and was in severe pain so that wasn’t possible. I asked her to sit outside and started flicking through my books trying to remember what to do.
When I started operating it was already noon time and very humid so I was drenched in sweat. I worked for almost an hour but the tooth was not coming out. In desperation I prayed ‘Oh God, should I just leave it?’ and then I saw that it was moving. I told the patient ‘five more minutes’ and, by God’s grace, He worked so miraculously that I took it out. Later my hygienist said that she was also praying as she didn’t want everyone to have a bad impression after just one patient.
Slowly I got to know people and within a week I was doing a lot of work and was much happier and satisfied. If I had stayed in Ludhiana I would have been working in just one department with seniors and faculty who would help me if I got stuck. At Kachhwa I am independent and have to do everything by myself so work–wise coming here has strengthened me a lot.
But God hasn’t chosen and put me here just for dental work. Before coming to here I had never thought of sharing the Gospel with anyone. But now when a patient or their relative sits in front of me and if I get a burden, I will share my faith and pray for them. Recently I had the opportunity to share with someone who had attempted suicide and also to someone who has substance abuse and a broken family. Praise God for the change in this person’s life.
I was brought up in a Christian family and in the eyes of the world I was a pretty good religious guy. I knew about God and Jesus Christ and I had many Christian values but my practical Christian life was lacking. Since arriving I have learnt to trust God every day. There are many leaders here who help me to be more fervent in reading the Word and I am still learning how to be a disciple.
Last year Dr R asked me if I would like to train in Palliative Care. I didn’t know much about it but agreed if it would help the hospital. I went ahead and did the training and passed the exams. We made a pamphlet to create awareness and I have been to quite a few villages and met patients and prayed with them.
One of the first patients was Panchu who came from a nearby village. He had head and neck cancer and was just crying in pain at his house. Because of poor hygiene, flies started coming and then maggots and because it was smelling so bad the family discarded him and he lived outside the house under a sheet. I talked to the administrator and we brought him into the hospital. We used medication to ease his pain and improve his quality of life. I used to witness to him and pray with him. I don’t know if he accepted the Lord or not because he couldn’t speak but just nod his head when questioned.
I have also been helping with the administration work as there has to be someone who oversees things when the administrator is away. I have learnt how to cope with things like monetary works, hospital administration and paperwork, patients and crowd management, computer and software issues and guests/people coming in to stay. It gets a bit difficult because I have my patients and department as well but the Lord has equipped me.
Still at times I feel low and have been praying and asking God to reveal His will for my future. I have different platforms in front of me but I don’t know what God wants me to choose. Two years ago I didn’t know that I was going to be coming to Kachhwa but God brought me here and it is one of the best places he’s taken me to, and I’m convinced – He will lead me.
Dr H Dental Surgeon