One of the first people patients meet when they check into the clinic at ELWA hospital is William Pewee. He receives their clinic card with a warm greeting and a smile, then hands them their medical record before they join the line to see a provider. If they have a question, he will help, because he wants people to feel cared for when they come to ELWA. In fact, before he was employed in the records room, Pewee was a volunteer who led devotions and prayed with patients on the wards.
In the midst of the Ebola crisis, Pewee shared a request at the monthly ELWA prayer meeting for the patients in the Ebola Treatment Unit, that someone would encourage them in the Lord. For obvious reasons, volunteers could not enter the unit to lead devotions. That night, he dreamed that a man in a white gown came to him saying “we are coming for you, so get ready,” meaning that he might die, but he argued and wrestled against him. He had recently read the story of King Hezekiah, and he told the man he was a preacher and wanted more time like Hezekiah was given.
The next morning as he got ready for work, he felt the chills of a fever. Although he did not think he had been exposed to Ebola, he knew he should be careful. When he arrived at the hospital, Dr. Fankhauser saw his bloodshot eyes and put him in the “suspected cases” ward of the Ebola unit.
The Ebola test was positive, but his case was not typical. Although he experienced bleeding from his nose and ears--one of the scarier symptoms--it subsided after a few days. In the end, his sickness was very mild and he never even had the diarrhea that weakens most patients.
After just four days in the ETU, Pewee felt better. But he realized that his prayer request was very relevant, because dozens of people were dying around him. People were truly afraid, especially at night when so many seemed to pass away. So he became the answer to his own prayer request and “opened a revival,” as he puts it. Late every night, after the last medications were administered, the patients who were strong enough gathered to read the Bible and sing and pray.
While he was recovering, he met a familiar face. A surgeon and former medical director of ELWA Hospital, Dr. John Dada, was admitted to the ETU. Dr. Brown asked Pewee to look after him, and call whenever there was a concern. But sadly, even as he seemed to be improving, the beloved doctor suddenly died. Losing Dr. Dada hit the ELWA staff very hard.
SIM recognized that many people would be affected by the traumas they faced in those months. They organized a program to train local facilitators of “Trauma Healing Groups” who would learn about the emotional impact of trauma and the road to healing. Eighty facilitators were trained in July 2015. There is such a demand for these groups among those who have been touched by the Ebola crisis and other past traumas in Liberia that more facilitators will be trained in May.
Pewee participated in the first trauma healing workshop. Although he was able to reach out to others in the middle of his own Ebola experience, he said the program helped him to understand and cope with his own lingering emotions: "it helped me come down," he says. Losing patients he prayed with, watching the body bags leave the ETU was a painful experience that has stayed with him.
William Pewee’s job at ELWA may seem like a small one, pulling and replacing files all day. But for him, it is a way to show the love of Jesus to someone who may be having a difficult day. He is one of the wonderful staff that we get to work with at ELWA--so many of them have a story to tell of God’s faithfulness.
And I’m excited to share that it is going to be my new assignment with SIM-Liberia to tell these stories. I am now the Communications officer for our field, a job that I began during my trip in February. I’ll be doing my best to fill the role from the U.S. with occasional trips to Liberia as our family situation allows. I hope that you will be encouraged to hear more about the way God has been working in Liberia through these stories.
Praise God for the power of the Resurrection in our lives and in our world!