Tag Archives: Macha Malaria Research Institute

Macha: The work of the Lord

The last three days have been an intensive dip into the BIC homeland in Zambia. Keith Cober (gregarious connector, historian and much-needed plumber) keeps telling us how much has developed in Macha since he was first involved and even since 2000. The hospital, nursing school, and especially the Macha Malaria Research Institute have created something of a small city, which looks to me like it might reach some kind of critical mass of urbanism some day. To hear everyone tell the story, it is all the work of the Lord. As before, there is too much to tell you about it all. So let me theme it as: three ways we saw the work of the Lord, with the emphasis on the work.

Getting ready for worship in Macha with Phil and Elaine Thuma

Macha Brethren in Christ

Phil and Elaine Thuma and John and Esther Spurrier should probably be more famous than they are. They are the main engines of Macha Mission’s development since the 90’s, and before. I sat next to Phil during the fascinating and often moving church service we attended. It was a blessing to have him keep leaning over and explaining why things were happening. Odd things: The adult men and women sat on separate sides of the church, which is about as old school BIC as you can get. Some ladies were in the BIC uniform. Visitors have to stand in front of the church and explain why they are there (I gave them greetings from you, Circle of Hope, and they voiced their delight). Great things: Various musicians, including choirs, are invited each week to register to lead the church; we had five groups including a man who played a home made guitar, the extremely well-rehearsed youth choir and a woman’s choir with a solo by a 70-year-old that generated applause. We learned to sing traditional hymns in Tonga.

The church and the work of the Lord are central to everything we have seen. The work week begins on Sunday.

On the Spurrier’s porch for tea

We experienced the blessing of a history lesson on Macha Mission Hospital and the Malaria Research Institute by the Thumas and Spurriers on a beautiful afternoon. Here is an article on Phil from a main funder that can give you more. I have known the Spurriers for many years and the Thumas mainly by association. It was a treat to relate to them in their native environment. One of the encouraging things they reported is how they feel more supported as a mission than ever. They are delighted with Jonathan Lloyd as a leader. They think the relationship of MCC and the church in Zambia is exemplary and report the historic relationship between MCC and the hospital as invaluable. Their work is laced with friendship, humility and joy.

Jose lining up kids at Macha Central

Institutions: MRI, Macha Central school, Macha Hospital, the nursing school

Macha, Zambia is a hub for BIC-founded enterprises: schools, hospital, and the amazing Malaria Research Institute (which is a work of God but independent).

  • Let’s start with the MRI (also MRT and other names depending on the registration with various powers). Most of you do not know that this jewel exists in an extremely unlikely, out-of-the-way place in the world. Who would think the the BIC would come up with a world-class research institute in their remote mission station! Phil Thuma is a funny, lucid, salesman saint and the engine behind it. I wanted to sit and listen to him teach me everything I could absorb of what he knows about viruses of every kind and how to get a university to send you a $35K machine.
  • Likewise, John Sprurrier (and the two are a tag team) has been the work horse behind what appears to be a well-run hospital. Upwards of 10,000 HIV AIDS patients are in active treatment, among many other things. MCC provided all the linens and blankets for the 200-bed hospital; in the state-run hospitals, you provide your own.
  • When it comes to the schools, there is a consistent theme: not enough. At Macha Central school we learned that many kids get up with the rooster at 5am and start walking without breakfast. They arrive at school by 6 to a class of 40, at least. No food will be provided; the homes for teachers have no electricity; and there is no money to complete the needed classrooms or even the fence to keep the goats off the soccer field. MCC’s Global Family project helps, but also does not have enough. As I’ve said before, it is daunting.

Nevertheless, the people exude hope, competence, community, spiritual passion and invention. There has been a lot to learn on the learning tour.

The other Africa posts:

April 13
Circle of Hope travels to southern Africa.


April 18
First thoughts from Zimbabwe

April 19
Being poor is tough

April 20
Going around doing good

April 22
Coming up against the powers


April 25
The food chain

April 25
The work of the Lord

April 26
Showing God’s love in practical ways

April 27
Will the northern hemisphere ever grow peace clubs?

April 30
Will we concede Southern Africa to Islam?

Christians are often in the forefront — note healthcare

It was quite a night last night at the BW PMs! I am still in wonder about all the stories I heard and experiences I had. We are alive in the Spirit. We are making a difference. People are seeking healing — and many are finding it, sometimes in surprising ways!

The church has always been full of surprises, hasn’t it? Historian Gary Ferngren writes that in 251 A.D., when Christians were still a small minority, the church in Rome took care of 1,500 widows, orphans, the sick and the dying. A century later, the church in Antioch supported twice as many. Out of this support network Christians created the world’s first hospitals.

John Spurrier teaching at Macha

Christians have often been in the forefront of improving the world. Just talk about this one thing: how we have contributed to health care, and we sound pretty amazing.  For instance, the Brethren in Christ Church began a hospital in the rural, far-reaches of Zambia in 1957 at Macha, a village 50 miles from the nearest town, Choma. Dr. Philip Thuma has served there for years. Under his leadership the hospital grew into an innovative and effective malaria research center. Now it is a 208-bed inpatient facility with an affiliated nursing school. The research on malaria has world-wide partners.

Jesus intimated that he was a doctor and certainly demonstrated His desire to heal. I feel that urge, too. Last night when we sang this song, the tears trailed down my cheeks.

All who are thirsty
all who are weak
come to the fountain
dip your heart in the stream of life
let the pain and the sorrow
be washed away,
in the wave of his mercy
as deep cries out to deep.

All over the room people were dipping into the waves of mercy and being fed and freed. One person went home and wrote back to me about being seven days sober! A couple reported how a great sorrow was lifted. A man told me how God is sustaining him through the hardest thing he has ever faced. A student was present because they were curious about how our community is so healing. We give in to the urge to heal all the time.

We make a difference, as Christians always have. We not only work to heal people physically, we work to heal people spiritually: broken bodies and broken hearts.

insurance under ACAOne of the great issues confronting the new Congress is going to be whether the modest addition to healthcare in the U.S., Obamacare, will be dismantled. One has to wonder what the debate is about when the U.S. already has the most expensive healthcare in the world and yet ranks last in this year’s ranking of outcomes. The invisible hand has us in its grip. I am grateful for all my friends and family who have received some benefits from the law. But they are still being gouged by insurance companies and defrauded by the corporations who own the supposedly free enterprise system and the government that legislates it.

In that environment, we make a difference every day. I am so grateful for the advances medical science has made in healthcare — last night, a friend told the story of how her mother’s emergency care saved her life! But I also heard a friend talking about how wanton prescription of antidepressants for anything that resembles depression is actually thwarting human development! I am not waiting for the wisdom of this world, no matter how technically amazing, to reflect the wisdom of God.

The difference we keep making is when deep calls to deep. Beyond our capacity to heal ourselves, inside or out, we find the place where Jesus makes us whole. In that work we are at the forefront. In so many ways we can make a difference – in every area we spend our day!


Stand against the hand: share and pray

I know you don’t care Ayn, but she died from no healthcare