The Challenge with New Believers

It had been six hours since Thiery had been injured in an automobile accident. The young man had been riding with a dozen other passengers in an open pick-up truck 20 kilometers from Bongolo when the driver lost control and the vehicle rolled. A passing car brought Thiery and four other injured passengers to Bongolo Hospital for treatment.  
“He had an open wound in his upper arm that seemed innocent enough,” said Alliance missionary Dr. David Thompson. “But a severe infection set in that within three days devoured most of the skin and some of the muscles on the back of his upper arm and elbow.” 
During the month that Thiery was hospitalized, hospital personnel prayed for him when they made their rounds, and Jonas, an anesthetist, talked to Thiery several times about giving his life to Christ. During his third week, Thiery prayed a prayer of faith and told the team that he had decided to follow Jesus. “When he was finally discharged,” said Thompson, “we all encouraged him to attend the local Bongolo church. But after he left the hospital, Thiery went back to his old way of life.” 
When a renowned plastic surgeon, David Chang from M. D. Anderson Hospital in Texas, came to Bongolo to offer his services, Thiery was one of the patients who showed up. His right elbow was severely scarred, and his arm was useless. With Dr. Chang’s surgical skills, the amount of scar tissue was reduced, and a vascularized transfer flap was moved from Thiery’s wrist to his elbow, restoring Thiery’s arm to normal function.  
During his hospitalization, Thiery was again encouraged to follow Christ, and some staff will visit him after his release. “But unlike Thiery who lives close by,” Thompson said, “most who pray to receive Christ at the hospital come from all over Gabon. We have the privilege of introducing thousands of people to Christ each year. The challenge for our team and for the churches of Gabon is to encourage and help these vulnerable new believers to follow in Christ’s footsteps after they leave the hospital.”


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