Great Gifts Come in Small Sizes

By J., an RN, serving at a hospital in West Africa

The following is an adapted excerpt from J’s December prayer letter.  

 “And Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'”  -Luke 18:16

I’ve always avoided working in pediatrics . . . I love kids, but working with sick children and their parents takes a special person (unfortunately, not me!). Yet, even though I’m not working as an inpatient nurse, I can’t stay away from pediatrics-it’s now fully open here at the hospital.

Our nursing office happens to be right in the middle of the pediatric inpatient area; this has many advantages. I get to see cute kids every day and make friends with them. I can give the children pictures to color or little gifts, but I don’t usually have to give them their injections or do things that will make them cry. It’s a win-win situation.

“He Won My Heart”

Boaz is a recent favorite. He and his dad, who spent a few weeks in the hospital after Boaz had a skin graft to his leg, live in a town near the border of Mali and Burkina Faso. Boaz was back again this week because of continued problems with his leg healing. He waves and smiles every time he sees me pass by . . . he quickly won my heart with his nearly constant smile and polite friendliness.

Kadi and her little sister Miriam have been our office’s next door neighbors for the last few weeks. Kadi is being treated for Burkitt’s lymphoma. Little sister Miriam loves to laugh and tease but is a little shy of white people . . . today she finally decided to come to me to get the stuffed animal I offered her.

Kadi sat quietly on a stool next to me as I worked. Her sweet personality and presence, along with the fact that she is progressing well, is comforting. Lately, we’ve needed to be comforted in pediatrics.


Although we have the privilege of witnessing a lot of miracles here, one can’t avoid the harsh reality of sickness and death. During the last few months we’ve lost too many sweet little patients.

Korotoumou, 13, had typhoid fever causing intestinal rupture; she died after her third surgery. Miriam, 11, spent about three months with us. She was treated for tuberculosis in her lungs, before losing her battle.

Rokia, 2, came back to the hospital a couple months ago with recurring kidney cancer that she had been treated for earlier in the year. Her parents gave their lives to Christ during their daughter’s first bout with cancer. Rokia didn’t respond well to additional treatment; she died earlier this week.

Aboubacar, 4, had been receiving chemotherapy for a chest tumor; today, Aboubacar died. As his mother wept, family members of other patients-and then her own friends-told her to stop crying and to thank Allah.

Since people tend to discourage outward signs of grief here, I try to keep my tears to myself as much as possible. Today I couldn’t.

Even as I write this, I am crying for Aboubacar’s, Miriam’s, Rokia’s, and Korotoumou’s moms-and for the other families who have lost their children in recent months. Some deaths occurred quickly from our worst, most common killer here-malaria. Others fought hard against TB, cancer, or some other illness.

A Great Privilege

Jesus says that the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these little ones-Miriam, Rokia, Aboubacar, Korotoumou. He was with them in each moment of their suffering; He loves them tenderly. He suffered and died for them so that they could spend eternity with Him.

The day that Miriam died, I spent a lot of time with her, holding her, singing to her, praying for her. A few hours before her death, her mom found me and told me that Miriam had asked me to pray for her. Miriam went to be with her Savior later that evening.

“Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said.

May many children at our hospital experience Jesus’ love for them and come to faith in Him. He loves them and has given us the privilege to reach out to them.

The only reason I’ll be moving my office soon is because pediatrics needs the space. Until then, I’m grateful to be in the midst of the joys and the sorrows of daily life with little ones for whom we’re privileged to care-little ones whom Jesus loves.

What You Can Do

“Pray for our pediatric patients and their families to experience Christ’s love during their hospital stays,” J adds. “Pray for comfort for the families who have recently lost children.

“Pray, too, for Dr. Brett MacLean, our pediatrician, and his wife, Sheri, a nurse practitioner-they carry a heavy load-and for our pediatrics nurses who have worked so hard through the malaria season (which is almost over, PTL!),” J continues. “Pray also for more nurses at the hospital. I have two obstetrics nurses starting soon, but nursing staffing will still be very tight.”

Donate to the Alliance Great Commission Fund. In doing so, you partner with Alliance workers, like J, who daily share the hope of Christ’s birth and resurrection with families desperate for that good news.


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