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8:30 to 4:30 Monday - Friday

323 South Fairfax Street
Alexandria, Virginia  22314-3716
Phone: 703-549-6670

A Story from Pakistan 2010

We pulled into Taxila late in the morning. You can probably visualize the chaos and noise of the scene…..all manner of conveyances to include donkey carts, horse tongas, motorized rickshaws, taxis, cars, buses, oversized brightly painted trucks, bicycles, and motorcycles crowding into one brown, dusty intersection as pedestrians dodged around them, seemingly oblivious to the traffic and confusion. Our driver asked a street vendor for directions to the Christian hospital. We turned the corner and practically ran into a large blue gate. An armed guard appeared, and he looked at us with what we interpreted as a great deal of suspicion. After careful inspection, he slowly opened the gate and waved us inside.

We were suddenly in the quiet, green oasis of the hospital grounds. We were ushered into a nearby building and made our way down a labyrinth of corridors where we were greeted by Joseph Lall, the hospital administrator. His instructions to us were crisp and concise: “Follow me, and walk fast because we have lots to see.”

Off we went, through a maze of buildings, all packed with humanity. We felt their stares—westerners are great objects of curiosity in that part of Pakistan—as we sped through room after room dedicated to optical exams, inpatient processing, patient billing, post surgical wards, and operating rooms. The patients were clearly not people of means. They were male and female, young and old, Christian and Muslim, Afghan and Punjabi, having come from as far west as Afghanistan, and as far east as the Indian border. Each had lined up at 7:00 am, and many would be operated upon and sent to recovery wards by 2:00 that same day. They would stay there for a week in a crowded ward supervised by trained nursing staff, but with hands-on care and food provided by the extended family that accompanied them. There were people everywhere, with family members sleeping on rope cots and the smell of cooking permeating the air.

As we went about the campus, we couldn’t help but notice the many tablets listing names of individuals and churches who had donated funds for particular structures. Even the steam boiler which Joseph proudly showed us—yes, we did get the complete tour—had been funded by the Green Mountain Presbyterian Church of Denver Colorado.

That’s when we realized the enormous impact a very small amount of money can have in a place like Pakistan. The hospital collects small patient fees, but depends upon support from others a half a world away in order to complete their mission to minister to the sick and needy in God’s name. Church members in Denver, Louisville, or Kansas City would never see first hand the buildings and equipment their money provided, but they were able to respond to the need in a personal way. They would never be able to see the looks of hope and gratitude on the faces of people healed in the hospital. They would never see the smiles on the faces of the staff as they proudly showed us their humble but immaculately clean facilities and explained their infection rate for cataract surgery was lower than most western hospitals. They would never be able to see Joseph’s pride as he demonstrated how they used simple technologies to cut bandages and sterilize instruments, and how the staff kept costs low by recycling absolutely EVERYTHING, including the silver content in X-rays.

The last stop on our tour was the hospital chapel. In 2002, the good works of the Taxila Hospital had drawn the attention of terrorists anxious to exact revenge for the U.S. destruction of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. They had attacked on a Sunday morning in August during church services. Four of the hospital’s nurses had been killed and 23 other worshipers had been injured. The chapel still bore the marks of the attack—bullet and shrapnel holes peppered the exterior walls and damage from the bombs thrown inside was still apparent. A tablet listed the names of those killed and injured. Looking across the lawn, we again fixed our gaze on the front gate and the armed guard carefully checking passersby. Then it struck us. It’s easy to be a Christian and do good charitable work in a benign and appreciative environment; it’s far more difficult to do it where you are a despised minority, working in a place where some people hate you enough to kill you. Yet, the staff of the Taxila Hospital soldiers on, ministering every day to over 300 mostly Muslim souls. In 2005 they also assisted in earthquake relief in northern Pakistan; today they are ministering to the flood-ravaged people in the Swat Valley and other nearby areas. They are truly the embodiment of Christian charity.



Last Published: April 7, 2011 12:57 PM
Old Presbyterian Meeting House 323 South Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 703-549-6670