While I Was Sleeping
by Febby Mwiinga, Zambia Territory
Febby Mwiinga, Zambia TerritoryI am a nurse at Chikankata Hospital in Mazabuka, Zambia. The Chikankata staff make patients feel at home while they receive care regardless of their diverse backgrounds. Patients are made aware of God's presence as they are cared for by his people.
I was trained in nursing at the hospital and have been helping patients in the antiretroviral treatment clinic for 11 years. The ART clinic is the unit where patients have counselling before and after being tested for HIV/Aids. I enjoy my work caring for others and the people with whom I am privileged to work. But I never thought my colleagues would have to take care of me. I was shocked when I became ill and had to be admitted to the hospital.
My illness began with a toothache. Who would have thought a toothache could become so bad that it would result in a two-month coma? I had my tooth extracted and shortly after experienced a severe headache with a lot of frontal pain. At first I thought the headache was just a side effect of the tooth extraction, but it became so severe that painkillers did not help at all. Two days later I was admitted to the staff ward in Chikankata Hospital. I was sure I had meningitis.
A Chikankata Hospital room much like the one where Febby stayed
Major Annah Mabuto, Chaplain at Chikankata Hospital, with Febby
Febby with a patient in the out-patients' department
While in hospital, I started convulsing. I stabilised and then convulsed a second time just an hour later. Immediately I was transferred from the staff ward to the intensive care unit. I thought I was dying, though I didn't express this to anyone. I could only pray, 'God, you are able.' I vaguely remember telling the staff to take care of my child. I had been widowed five years before and I cared for my daughter Miyoba, my sister and my niece. I continued to pray, 'You can change any situation so I know you can change mine.' I felt the horrors of death but knew that God was able to help me. Despite my past sins, I knew God was gracious and would help me.
The convulsions led to a coma and the doctors diagnosed me with meningitis and renal failure. My relatives lost hope that I would leave the coma. They gathered in my home to await my death while I remained in hospital. While comatose, I had a vision that changed my life.
In my vision I saw a group of people with knives. They apparently wanted to kill me or bury me alive. I could only see their partly hidden faces. I did not recognise them; I could not even tell what they were wearing. There was another person in my vision, Major Annah Mabuto. As the Salvation Army hospital chaplain, she would come and pray with me several times a day during my stay in hospital. However, in my vision she appeared and prayed every time the people who wished to harm me came near to me.
As Major Mabuto prayed, the group of people cried, trembled and dropped their knives. It appeared as if some force kept them contained on one side of the room so that I?remained out of harm's way. This went on for some time until on one occasion, they managed to grab me and take me to a grave where they tried to bury me alive. I clearly saw myself in a grave, but I was never permitted to reach the bottom of it - someone was beneath me making it impossible for the group to finish what they had started. Instead the people began to cry and were pushed away by the hand of God.
What impact did this vision have on me? I believe God was trying to tell me that nothing is too hard for him. The events that followed this vision continue to amaze me. I was healed of my illness. My headache disappeared, I regained consciousness and tests showed my kidneys were functioning normally again. I felt relieved instantly. The Great Physician had healed me! The God who healed lepers and chose to heal the blind and the deaf is the same God who chose to heal me in the 21st century. The Lord who performed miracles two thousand years ago decided to bring healing and perform a miracle in my body.
Having come out of the coma, I felt disoriented and had some hallucinating, as was expected. Now I am stable and am back to work in the hospital, fully relying on God. My spiritual life is much stronger. Now I really understand what it must have been to be Lazarus brought back to life. God healed me through his amazing grace and is worthy of praise! The road may seem long and there may be some potholes in it, but God can be trusted even in life's darkest moments. I will never lose hope.