Imagine being in labor for five days. When those days mercifully end, you expect to hold your newborn baby and feel a sense of joy that overrides the pain and exhaustion of childbirth. Instead, after five days of intense labor, your child arrives and the midwives run from the room, terrified. Your community calls you cursed. Your husband refuses to even discuss the baby. You believe you are being punished by God for reasons unknown. All because your child was born with a disability, one that will prevent him from standing, walking, and being “normal” in any way for the duration of his life.
This was the beginning of the story for Andualem and his mother, Worke, but it wasn’t the ending. Their lives would change dramatically through the power of healing.
To understand the full depth of the transformation that took place for Andualem and Worke, you have to understand what life was like for them before healing. For a mother to bear a son who is forced to “walk” on his knees because his feet are deformed is a considerable trial in and of itself. Add to that the crushing reality that their family was isolated and ostracized because of a commonly held cultural belief that disabilities come from being cursed. In an effort to quell the rumors and give her son a better life, Worke carried him to school every day. But even that action was met with disdain – not from the village, but from the boy’s own father.
“Why are you sacrificing yourself for a disabled boy?” he chided. “He is good for nothing.”
It isn’t hard to understand why the circumstances surrounding Andualem’s life led to an unfortunate given name: Aytenaw, a name his mother gave him because it described the depth of her anguish and her view of his future. It follows the redemptive pattern of his story that at ten years of age Aytenaw, unable to do many of the things other children could do, did the one thing most other children would never do. He changed his own name.
When he registered for school he was asked for his name. “Andualem,” he replied, a name which implies that God created him the way he was, a name he chose to rid himself of the shame that accompanied his given name. Worke did not protest. “As you wish,” she told him.
Andualem excelled at his schoolwork, becoming one of the top students in his class. Worke continued to carry him to school every day. That was life: carried to school, carried home, repeated again the next day.
Until one day when a truck driver saw Worke and Andualem on their way to school, took pictures of the boy, and brought the photos to a local disability rehabilitation center to see what could be done. There, he learned about the CURE hospital in Addis Ababa. He took the good news to Worke, but there was one problem. The family didn’t have any money for a bus ticket to Addis Ababa, a location nearly 800 kilometers away from their village.
The redemptive pattern of the story continued: Andualem’s school, a place that Worke sacrificed so much of herself to get him to every day, was moved to sacrifice for her and Andualem. Within a few weeks everyone had contributed enough money to purchase a bus ticket for two to Addis Ababa.
Redemption reached full force when they arrived at CURE. They were greeted warmly and welcomed like family. They were told that there was hope for Andualem; he could be physically healed through surgery. He was admitted that day. For Worke, it was as if all of the darkness in her life began to give way to light.
More light shone through as they were told about Jesus for the first time. They learned that He felt differently about them than anyone had before. Andualem wasn’t cursed in His sight; he was a special boy created in God’s own image. They were told of the truth of the gospel, that they could receive forgiveness and eternal life by placing their trust in Jesus.
Andualem had surgery. He had to stay in the hospital for some time while his legs strengthened, and during that time he and Worke began to understand who Jesus really is. They received teaching and encouragement from the Bible. The staff at the hospital prayed with them regularly, and one day, they both prayed to receive Jesus as Savior, making Him the Lord of their lives.
Now, Worke cannot contain her joy. She gives kisses and hugs to the spiritual team and the senior management whenever she sees them. She is constantly uttering blessings on the hospital staff whenever nurses or cleaners enter the room. Her gratitude is known and felt by the whole hospital.
This strong woman, the one who spent five days in labor, the one who carried her son to and from school every day, knows what it is to walk a hard road. “Here,” she says, “is a place where God walks on earth.”
At CURE, we believe that healing changes everything. We see it in the lives of people like Andualem and Worke. Our mission is to heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom of God. Will you help us?