Bea is a quiet, dignified woman who lives in a remote part of Madagascar. Her home is a small, neat timber-framed building, one of several which make up the little village of Beangezoka in the north of the island.
Her family is steeped in the local religion, which involves a lot of witchcraft and worship of ancestors. But, for the last four years, God has been working in Bea’s life as she has dealt with two life-threatening illnesses.
Bea first turned up at the Good News Hospital, Mandritsara in 2012 suffering from a life-threatening gangrenous infection in her chest wall and neck. A little like cancer, this disease can prove fatal and the only chance of survival usually involves extensive surgery.
She was seen by a Serving In Mission doctor who recognised the condition immediately and knew what to do. First, he prayed for her and then he talked to a ;visiting surgeon.
Together, they operated on Bea and were able to stop the infection but only by removing significant amounts of tissue, leaving her with a lot of disfiguring scarring.
Bea stayed in or near the hospital for the next four months as the doctors battled to prevent the infection returning and started a series of skin grafts.
Every time she came to the hospital, Bea was exposed to the gospel. She heard it from the nurses treating her wounds, from the doctors during and after consultations and from other patients.
She did not miss a single appointment and bore her treatment with courage and determination. When the doctors finally said she was well enough to go home, she thanked them with the broadest of smiles.
For the next four years, she was not seen at the hospital. She returned to Beangezoka and her life carried on much as before – in human terms. But, wonderfully, a Belgian nurse called Hilde kept in touch with Bea and her family throughout that time.
The next time the medical team saw Bea was at the start of 2016, when she turned up with Hilde looking horribly thin and ill.
The doctors feared the worst, thinking the infection had returned. But eventually they diagnosed tuberculosis – serious, but treatable with antibiotics. Now, more than a year later, the course of drugs has finished and Bea is back to full health again.
So while the doctors have only been working with Bea in two short bursts, God has been much more diligent in her life. Working through Hilde and the small number of believers in Beangezoka, Bea has come to know more and more of Jesus and his glorious good news.
In the middle of last year, despite significant opposition from some members of her family, Bea was baptised, accepting that Jesus is now Lord of her life.
Of course, Bea now needs to be discipled into a growing Christian maturity, but Hilde and the other four members of the fledgling church will help her.
And they will all be praying that Bea’s story makes an impact for the gospel on her family and the rest of the village.
For Bea to be well-discipled by more mature Christians as she seeks to live out her faith.
For Bea's new faith to impact those around her, both in her family and in the wider community.
- For Bea to stay healthy and become a powerful evangelist.