Only God Has The Power To Heal

Ellen Fannon

© Copyright 2020 by Ellen Fannon

Photo of woman with child.

The day after Christmas 2004, the most destructive tsunami ever recorded occurred after a magnitude 9.1 underwater earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Within fifteen minutes, the tsunami, measuring more than 100 feet, hit the west and north coasts of northern Sumatra, particularly devastating the heavily populated province of Aceh, known as the front porch of Mecca (the area with the strictest form of Islam). Entire communities were swept away in a matter of minutes. The death toll in Aceh was estimated at 150,000—half its population, with an additional several thousand people left homeless.

Not long after this, my husband and I were called to come help coordinate disaster relief efforts in Aceh. Having served two years with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board in Indonesia from 1999-2001, we were familiar with the culture and language. My husband also had extensive experience coordinating disaster relief during our two years in the field. We scraped together the money for plane tickets, put our lives on hold, and headed to the other side of the world.

One of the immediate needs was medical help for the many refugees. With a series of short term volunteers, make-shift medical clinics were set up in mosques, refugee camps, and even by the side of the road. We worked in the heat, chaos, and primitive conditions, trying to bring a little bit of hope and healing to a group of people who had lost everything. Word spread and soon we were asked to help in more remote areas.

On a Friday afternoon, our team journeyed deep into the jungle where there was a heavy concentration of GAM insurgents. The GAM was a separatist group seeking independence for Aceh from Indonesia. From 1976 to 2005, they fought against the Indonesian forces, with over 15,000 lives lost. We were a little uneasy, but trusted God had called us to this area for a reason and He would protect us. We set up our clinic in an open area in front of one of the government buildings.

Our team ministered to numerous people that afternoon. During the busy clinic, many of our team members noticed a woman hovering on the periphery of the crowd, holding a sick baby. But she didn’t ask for help. Finally, when most of the people had gone and we were packing up to leave, she approached us, her eyes downcast. The baby in her arms was deathly ill. He was cyanotic (blue) and gasping for breath.

Among our team members that week were a pediatric emergency room nurse and a respiratory therapist. After examining the baby, they begged the mother to take him to the hospital, but she refused. Unfortunately, many hospitals in third-world countries have questionable standards of care. Patients’ families must pay for everything up front, and unless a family member is continuously present, the patient may not receive any care.

With sinking hearts, realizing there was a good chance the baby would die, our nurse administered an antibiotic injection. Amazingly, we discovered one pediatric mask and one inhaler among our supplies. The mother was shown how to use the inhaler and to perform coup age on the baby to loosen up congestion in his lungs. Finally, because we were finished for the day, the entire team had the opportunity to surround the mother and child, lay hands on them, and pray for healing in the name of Jesus. Our nurse and respiratory therapist planned to check on the baby the next day, so we took a picture of the mother and baby in order to find them again.

As we made the hour drive back into town, we realized the reason the mother had hung back until almost everyone else had gone was most likely because she was afraid we were going to tell her there was no hope for her child. The mood of our entire group was somber as we feared the worst.

The next day we received a phone call from our two ladies who had gone back to check on the baby. “It’s a miracle!” they shouted. They were so excited it was hard to get the details. Finally, we learned they had taken the picture and gone through the village in search of the mother and baby. The villagers led them to a woman holding a smiling child.

No, this isn’t the same baby,” they argued.

The people assured them it truly was the same child. It was nothing short of a miraculous healing!

After those ladies went back to the states, I journeyed out the village several times to check on the baby. He was still on medication, but his recovery was astounding. I often ponder on the “coincidence” of having a respiratory therapist, an emergency room pediatric nurse, and one pediatric respiratory mask and inhaler in that remote jungle on that particular day. Coincidence? I think not. I believe God knew exactly what was needed for that critically ill baby and He provided. Although every healing is a miracle, whether it be cancer or a common cold, there was absolutely no doubt God’s hand was on this baby.

Our group was known as IBI (International Board Indonesia). We were nicknamed IB by the locals. Although there were several other secular humanitarian groups working in Aceh, we were told there was no healing until IB came.

Doctors and medicines are simply tools. Only God has the power to heal.” This is what we emphasized with each clinic we held. As I handed out medication and went over instructions, I prayed with each patient for healing in the name of Jesus. If someone had told me a year before that I would be standing in a mosque in the strictest Islamic area of Indonesia praying in the name of Jesus, I would have laughed. It shows how God can open doors in the most closed areas to receive His Gospel—and He is still in the miracle business.

Ellen Fannon, is a practicing veterinarian, former missionary, and church pianist/organist. She originated and wrote the Pet Peeves column for the Northwest Florida Daily News before taking a two-year assignment with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. She and her husband have also been foster parents for more than 40 children, and the adoptive parents of two sons.  Her first novel, Other People’s Children, the humorous account of the life of a foster parent, was released November 2017 and is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the trunk of her car. She lives in Valparaiso with her husband, son, and assorted pets.

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