Bongolo Hospital: Disaster, Quick Provision

Updated: Friday, January 24, 2014

The following is an adapted excerpt of a report filed by Keir Thelander, MD, who with his wife, Joanna, serves as Gabon’s team leader couple.

Since fire destroyed Bongolo Hospital’s electrical transformer, we have seen God at work in amazing ways. We praise Him for His quick provision of a replacement transformer. Pastor Serge, our hospital administrator, has many contacts and was able to immediately reach the director of a company that builds them, a man he knows personally.

As a result, Tuesday night a new transformer arrived. Final cost for the transformer and installation will be $175,000, plus approximately $1,000 in fuel each day we need to run the generator. God has sustained the generator that has run for all but 30 minutes during the last six days on energy-conservation mode.

Because of the urgent need for the transformer, we’ve dipped to almost the bottom of our financial reserves, so we’re now in a risky situation if a second disaster should hit. Please pray that we will build our reserves quickly and that the transformer installation will be completed soon!

We praise the Lord that 1,083 people prayed to accept Christ at Bongolo Hospital during 2013. Although Satan has meant this disaster to destroy and harm us, we know God will use this to strengthen our faith in Him and to demonstrate His glory. He will use this for good because we believe Romans 8:28 is true—even for us here in this difficult situation!


The following report is compiled from updates by Bongolo Hospital staffers in Gabon, West Africa.

Friday evening, January 17, Bongolo Hospital’s electric transformer, which supplied power to the hospital and its residences, burst into flames and was destroyed.

“Thankfully, no one was hurt and the damage was contained within the cement-block shack in which the transformer was housed,” reported Steve Straw, who founded a medical air ambulance service for the hospital and region. The shack is located a distance from patient care areas.

When the fire was discovered, “Pastor Serge, our hospital administrator, immediately went to the power company to have the power shut off,” said Joanna Thelander, who serves at Bongolo with her husband, Keir, a physician.

Bucket Brigade

“Missionaries, pastors, hospital staff workers, and surgery residents formed a bucket brigade, tossing sand on the fire to finally put it out,” Thelander added. “Using water from the hospital’s fire truck would have created more problems, since the fire was initially caused by an electrical failure and then fueled by the transformer’s oil supply.”

Although the hospital has a backup generator, running it 24/7 would cost the hospital an estimated $1,000 per day.With property insurance unavailable in Africa, the approximate cost for a new transformer was upwards of $175,000.

On Tuesday, January 22, hospital doctor Renee Valach wrote an urgent update: “We need a new transformer as quickly as possible! Pastor Serge has already gone to Libreville to arrange this. We do not know how long it will take. Pray that the transformer will arrive quickly!”

God Supplies

Later Tuesday, Straw reported: “Don’t ask me how, but a new transformer just showed up at Bongolo Hospital! Pastor Serge’s contacts and trip to Libreville must have paid off! We have no details of the arrangements, but the price tag is 87 million central African francs—roughly US$176,000. Installation work begins tomorrow.”

What You Can Do


  • Praise God for His provision of the new hospital transformer. “Pray that our electricity supply will be more stable in the future as a result,” Dr. Valach requests.
  • Join the Alliance family in praying for our international workers in Gabon and worldwide. They serve in often challenging circumstances that require an extra measure of godly wisdom and grace. Use the Alliance Weekly Prayer Requests to assist you.


  • Give to the Great Commission Fund (GCF) and partner with Alliance global workers who are pushing back the darkness as they introduce lost people to the light of Jesus and remind believers of His saving grace.
  • Give now

Learn More

  • Check out Alliance ministry in Gabon through Bongolo Hospital.
  • For updates, check out Bongolo Hospital’s Facebook page and/or Steve Straw’s blog. Note: Clicking on these links will take you off of the C&MA Web site.


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