By Elizabeth Ealey
In a global pandemic, how do you bring people hope? Who would minister to the suffering, sick, and dying, when visitors are not allowed in hospitals?
These questions burdened one Chilean woman named Rufina. Rufina was studying the book of Acts through a leadership program led by Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders (SAMS-USA) Missionaries Russ and Heidi Smith in Temuco, Chile. Through Acts, God showed Rufina that He uses people outside of their comfort zone. She began asking God to push her. She said, “With Acts in my hand and the pandemic raging around me, I found myself praying … that God would take hope to the hospitals.”
Little did she know that God would answer both prayers by sending her to the hospital as a patient. “All the people in the room were crying. They were suffering from different sicknesses,” Rufina said of her shared hospital ward. Rufina began to share the gospel and pray for patients and staff by name.
Rufina’s expected two-day hospital stay for gallstones extended to six weeks when the doctors found cancerous tumors. Rufina knew she had a purpose for being in the hospital, so she did not ask God to take away the sickness. Like the disciples in Acts, she asked that “in this sickness God would give her courage to speak of Him.” Those six weeks gave Rufina an opportunity to share the gospel with ten people! A few came to Christ for the first time. Others returned to Him, includ- ing one woman who later died, but with her hope in Christ restored. Several people experienced emotional and physical healing. One atheist refused Rufina’s prayers initially, but left the hospital believing God exists! She continues to have phone conversations with Rufina.
After running tests, the doctors planned an explor- atory surgery to find Rufina’s cancer. The night before the surgery, a church member called her and prayed for healing from the cancer. The surgery showed the tumor was gone! The doctor kept Rufina for more tests and another surgery, but still found nothing. Later, that same doctor, who had rejected spiritual conversation, said, “Don’t give any thanks to me. Give all the thanks to God!” God had sent Rufina to the hospital to bring hope, and now He brought her safely home.
Elizabeth Ealey is an Anglican writer in Pittsburgh who enjoys sharing God’s Word and stories of hope. This article was first pubished in The Messenger, the Spring/Summer 2021 newsletter of the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders (SAMS-USA).
Note from Jenny Noyes, Global Mission Initiative Leader: We followed Rufina’s journey on our GMI Global Prayer Calls held twice weekly since the lockdown of 2020 started. Every week, Heidi and Russ Smith shared Rufina updates and we rejoiced at this miraculous story as it unfolded.
This is a beautiful picture of what the GMI is all about – connecting Anglican missionaries, intercessors, mission agencies, and global partners so that the Kingdom of God reaches the ends of the earth. Join us for our calls in 2021 on the second Sunday and the last Wednesday of each month. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for Zoom call details.