More than a ride home

More than a ride home

In June 2019 a team from ITEC travelled with MAF to Zwedru to carry out dental training with evangelists from Wordsower Liberia. On the return journey the MAF plane carried two patients in need of advanced medical care along with the team.

MAF and ITEC have a shared history dating back to the 1950’s. After MAF pilot Nate Saint and his four friends were speared to death by the Waodoni in 1956, Elisabeth Elliot, Jim Elliots widow, and Rachel Saint, Nate's sister, went to live among the tribe and share the Gospel with them.

Story by Jonathan Spenn (ITEC)

Nearly 40 years later, after the death of Rachel Saint, the Waodoni invited Nate’s son, Steve to live among them. Weary of missionaries coming and doing things for them, the Waodani asked Steve to train them to do things for themselves so they could reach out to neighbouring tribes. The vision for ITEC was born.  

Indigenous mission 

20 years after it was founded, ITEC continues to train indigenous believers and the ministry has spread to Africa and around the world. In June, ITEC visited Liberia to partner with Kim Smith and his ministry Wordsower Liberia. Over a decade Wordsower has built a network of indigenous missionaries that are actively taking the gospel around Liberia, into Ivory Coast, and beyond. ITEC was invited to train 18 of Wordsower’s missionaries to equip them with skills including dentistry, digital storytelling, and optometry that can be used to open doors for the gospel.

'MAF played a critical part in offering hope to Blessing and Mark when we all feared that there was nothing more to be done.' Jonathan Spenn

Sowing the Word 

Zwedru, where Wordsower is based is surrounded by jungle and Kim has utilised MAF’s flights many times. The alternative is a twenty-hour drive over unpredictable and challenging terrain. The ITEC team of 5 were thrilled to have the option of using MAF and much more quickly, easily, and safely travel to Zwedru with our equipment.  Little did we realise that MAF’s services would offer so much more than a ride home.

'Kim Smith traveled back to Zwedru by vehicle. 300 miles ended up taking 39 hours. 
The same 300-mile journey only takes 1 hour and 15 minutes by plane!' Jonathan Spenn

Find out more about Wordsower Liberia and watch the video  

Advanced care 

On our second to last day of dental training, we saw two patients with advanced needs.  

11-year-old Blessing had developed osteomyelitis as a result of a long-standing necrotic tooth.  The offending tooth had already been removed months earlier, but the infection had spread into the jawbone and she did not have the immune response necessary to fight it off. At our clinic in Zwedru, we were able to get her numb and remove several pieces of the necrotic jawbone. However, we needed to get her somewhere where she could have x-rays and further treatment. 

The other patient was a young man named Mark who had a large tumour (an ameloblastoma) that had been slowly growing on the left side of his face for 7 years. The tumor had pushed the top and bottom teeth on his left side inward and he was no longer able to open his mouth very wide.  Months earlier, Mark had been to a large hospital in Monrovia where he had been told that there was nothing they could do for him.

Hope of healing 

Although we were initially discouraged by the little amount of help that we could offer Blessing and Mark in Zwedru, we soon learned that there would be enough space on our MAF flight back to Monrovia for Blessing, her older sister Bernice, and Mark to travel with us.  MAF played a critical part in offering hope to Blessing and Mark when we all feared that there was nothing more to be done.  

After arriving in Monrovia, Blessing and Mark were seen at the Trinity Dental Clinic within the SIM/Samaritan’s Purse ELWA Hospital. Both had x-rays taken. Blessing received further treatment and is showing improvement. She will continue long-term antibiotic therapy.  Mark is scheduled to have his tumor removed by a British surgeon in January.

Purposeful partnership

We are grateful to MAF for their ministry. We are thankful for the work that they are doing to facilitate ministry and medical transportation. 

Kim Smith eventually traveled back to Zwedru by vehicle. Sadly, his journey of 300 miles ended up taking 39 hours due to rain and poor roads. That makes it easy to appreciate MAF when the same 300-mile journey only takes 1 hour and 15 minutes by plane!

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