By Natalie Holsten
MAF serves medevac patients and families through hospitality ministry
Novianty was wasting away, unable to eat and plagued by constant nausea and vomiting.
Her condition was critical when she was flown by MAF airplane from her remote village to the city of Tarakan in Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Doctors at Tarakan’s regional hospital tried to treat her stomach and kidney issues. But after several weeks, she was told there was nothing more they could do for her, and they discharged her.
Novianty and her husband, Ben, moved to Rumah Singgah, MAF’s hospital house in Tarakan, until she was strong enough to travel home. Through tears she recalled how hopeless she felt in the face of the doctor’s grim prognosis.
A Home Away from Home
Rumah Singgah was established in 2013 after MAF staff saw the difficulties medevac patients faced when coming to an unfamiliar place for treatment.
Patients often arrive with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. If they don’t know anyone locally, they face the daunting task of navigating the medical system alone.
Family members or caregivers typically accompany the patient, and they have nowhere to sleep other than the hospital floor.
Rumah Singgah offers help to patients and their families in tangible ways—from providing a clean and safe place to stay, to assisting with paperwork, to helping family members with logistics if a loved one passes away.
Mince, wife of longtime MAF employee Nelson, is a fixture at the Rumah Singgah. She’s from a remote village herself and understands how much the hospital house ministry means to the people who come here. She loves helping patients and keeping the house clean and organized.
Other MAF staff pitch in and help, including MAF kids, who sometimes play with children of patients, and decorate the house for Christmas. MAF staff attend and help lead a monthly time of worship at Rumah Singgah.
“Every time we have a service like that, it’s such a blessing to the patients and families who are here. It encourages all of us,” shared Mince.
Healing and Hope
Rumah Singgah chaplain Bob M. Lopulalang also ministrs to the patients and caregivers.
Novainty was one of the first patients Bob met. He saw her regularly for counseling and prayer. Slowly, Novianty gained strength, which Bob attributes to God’s healing power.
“I know it was the Lord who was at work on her behalf,” he recalled.
After three months she was healthy and headed back to her home village, full of gratitude for God’s healing and for those who helped her.
“MAF helped us so much,” Novianty said. “For those of us who are from the interior of Kalimantan, it can be hard to find a place to stay while getting treatment at the hospital. But praise the Lord, there’s a house here, prepared by MAF, and we’re very thankful.
“But it’s not just the place to stay. There’s a chaplain who comes and serves and prays with us and gives us guidance. And that strengthens us.”
After returning to her home village, Novianty resumed her work as a midwife. She recently accompanied a young patient on a medevac flight, coming full circle from patient to helper.
For Kalimantan program director Jeremy Toews, flying someone like Novianty home to her family is one of the most satisfying aspects of his ministry.
He adds, “While it thrills me to know that they have received care for their physical health, the deepest source of my joy in this ministry is in knowing that their lives have been touched by the love of Christ and they will never be the same.”
Story appeared in FlightWatch Vol. 2 2023. Read the entire issue here: