Life-changing facial surgeries in the DRC
The theories ranged from absurd to ominous: a lizard bit her lip, her mother looked at a camel while giving birth, an ancestor or evil spirit had been angered, or perhaps this was God’s punishment. No matter the reason, Nzapa Kimbi knew her seven-year-old granddaughter, Lidia, needed help. Even if Lidia’s cleft palate were a curse, Nzapa—whose name means “God doesn’t like me”—would have done anything to give a better life to her granddaughter, even if it meant walking from the Central African Republic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Nearly two millennia ago, when the disciples came across a blind man (John 9), they asked similar questions to the ones asked about Lidia: “Rabbi, who sinned,
this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered: “Neither … This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
A deformity such as a cleft palate can be much more than
a disfigurement in many parts of the world. In the DRC, people with cleft palates are often viewed as cursed and can be ostracized from society or face harsh persecution.
MAF recently partnered with the Evangelical Covenant Church and the Paul Carlson Partnership—an organization that encourages medical and economic development in the DRC—to bring skilled surgeons into the village of Karawa to meet the needs of people like Lidia.
Karawa is cut off from the rest of the country by the massive Congo River, one of the world’s largest rivers and the deepest—with depths reaching as much as 720 feet! In addition to the river, large forests and swamps mean many of the people living there often have difficulty getting help. MAF’s PC-12 airplane is an ideal tool to open access to Karawa and the surrounding region.
MAF pilot Garth Pederson flew a medical team in the spacious PC-12 from the city of Kinshasa to Karawa— quickly covering the distance of 530 miles! Upon landing at the airstrip, the team was warmly greeted
by over 100 people, many of whom were local nurses excited about the opportunity to meet needs in this area.
For 11 days, the team held medical training seminars on trauma care and performed cleft palate surgeries on 12 children—one of whom was Lidia.
“God has given us a unique opportunity to join Him in what He is doing,” said Garth. “The surgeons could not have done what they did without this flight. There’s no way to get up there without the airplane. And I could not have done the flight without the support of our ministry partners.”
“They had no money and no hope for a change,” said Dr. Linda Lindquist, the surgeon who performed Lidia’s surgery. “Now they can rejoice that something good has come into their lives.”
Contrary to her name, God does care for Nzapa. He loves Lidia, her grandmother, and others around the world who are hurting and scorned. And because of the support of donors like you, MAF is able to reveal His love to people in remote places like Karawa.
“Lidia’s life was physically transformed,” said Garth. “And I believe that her grandmother’s life was spiritually transformed, with the realization that God more than likes her—He loves her.”
This story is a part of FlightWatch, 2015 Vol. 4. You can read the full edition below and/or you can also subscribe to receive FlightWatch in the mail.