From Terror to Triage: God’s Lessons for Maranatha

Mar 1, 2018

Maranatha emerged from the field hospital hastily erected about 10 miles from the front lines against ISIS in Mosul, Iraq. She had been working as quickly as she could from one patient to the next for significantly longer than her normal 12-hour shift. She was treating women, children, and Iraqi soldiers after a suicide bomber had just targeted a local restaurant with 250 people. Those who had survived had been flowing into her hospital.

She has been on several medical mission trips, including trips to Haiti, Ecuador, Bangladesh, and two trips to Iraq. Straight out of college, Maranatha began working with Samaritan’s Purse as a nurse. Samaritan’s Purse is an international Christian humanitarian organization which is led by Franklin Graham, who is also the CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Maranatha is also a Covenant Journey alumna who had a life-changing experience June of 2016. Before traveling with Covenant Journey, she said, “ISIS was my number one fear, I was terrified of them.” In Israel, however, God worked in her heart. “It really hit me that my identity cannot be found in my mission work or what I’ve accomplished, but only in the One who sat before Pontius Pilate and bore my sin for me. So often we find our identity in our jobs or money, but how incredible it is to have my identity in the One who walked on water!” When God had finished changing this foundational belief, it had a powerful impact on her life. “Suddenly, it didn’t matter whether I live or die. As long as I am following Christ, that is what I want to do with my life.” 

Six months after her journey in Israel, Maranatha was back in the Middle East, performing triage and giving medicine to Iraqis and even members of ISIS. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and might be the hardest thing I ever will do.” Young children would come in with mortar and shrapnel wounds, even missing limbs. Beyond the physical pain, there was a deep sense of the oppression and evil caused by ISIS. She experienced “a huge emotional twist to see the havoc ISIS was wrecking and then being asked to help and care for them.” This led to the next lesson God had for Maranatha’s heart. She said, “I felt like God was talking to me, that He was asking me to choose mercy.” Then there was just a “feeling of compassion for the people I was serving, even when they were ISIS.”

In many of the ISIS fighters, there was a hardness and anger. Maranatha affirmed John 1:5, “It is true, that God’s ‘Light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.’” But for others, their work changed eternity. One man, an ISIS member, came to them mortally wounded. Samaritans Purse’s policy is -if nothing can be done- their staff prays or sings, or sometimes just sits with the patient through the dying process. As the hours passed and his life faded, and they still cared for him, this ISIS member’s last dying words were “Your God is the Living God.”

Since her time in Iraq, Maranatha has written a book manuscript called From the Plains of Nineveh: A Nurse on the Front Lines of Mosul that she is hoping to publish soon to share the many things God taught her there. She also created a blog.

More recently, Maranatha returned from Bangladesh to deal with an outbreak of diphtheria among the Rohingya people. They are basically an unreached Muslim people group facing ethnic cleansing in the predominately Buddhist nation of Myanmar. About 800,000 of them have fled across the border to the Muslim country of Bangladesh. Now, these refugees are crammed in a camp covering just a few square kilometers. Against this desperate backdrop, these refugee camps are experiencing an outbreak of about 7,000 cases of diphtheria. It’s highly contagious, attacks a patient’s airway, and can cause death. Unfortunately, there are only about 5,000 vials of treatment worldwide, all of which is based in horse serum. This non-human content causes a high likelihood of complications, thus medical staff monitors each patient, one-on-one, for between 5-7 hours while administering the medicine and monitoring its effects. Maranatha prayed for Christian translators, which God provided to them. During her time there, they treated about 1,500 patients and used that opportunity to share Christ when possible during those precious hours.

“Honestly, God is teaching me that to be able to do this work is a privilege. I’m not doing it on my own, but only because God allowed me to be there.” Maranatha continued, “Many times people try to put this work on a pedestal, but serving as an international nurse is no greater work -no more important- than that of a mom who is caring for her child. We all need to work in whatever part of the kingdom that God is calling us. I am thankful to be called by God and able to see and share in what He is doing.”

Maranatha’s close encounters with so much desperate need can make it hard to adjust back to the wealth in America. “It’s good to have a global perspective,” she said. “We are such a small part of the world.” She hopes, “When I can’t go any longer, that others can take my place.” She has kept in touch with several alumnae from her Covenant Journey trip who are pursuing nursing so that they will be similarly equipped to serve this great need.

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