Take Up Your Mat and Walk!

“Take up your mat and walk.”

“Talitha koum (Little girl, I say to you, get up!)!”

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

I picture Christ saying these things when I think of Phara, a young lady of only twenty-four years of age with dreams of becoming a nurse. On her way to school one day, these dreams were shattered when a car struck her.  At 20 years old Phara found herself disabled and in a state of constant pain. Over the next four years, she would have numerous surgeries that would, despite the surgeons’ best efforts, leave her with a fractured tibia (small leg bone) and nothing but her faith and a heavily used crutch to hold tight to.

September 2021, after the August 2021 earthquake and hurricane, RoRo, Dr. William Allen (an HCO board member and long time traveler with HCO), and I visited Les Cayes to assess their rebuilding needs. We spent the day hiking up mountains to very remote locations to identify homes we could help rebuild. These locations were not easily reached as the only means of transportation to these locations was by foot or on the back of a donkey. About a mile and a half up one of the mountains, Dr. Allen and I realized RoRo was no longer with our group. Not out of the ordinary, so we continued on with the group of kids and adults who were guiding us up the mountain. Upon finishing our last interview with a family and filming their home, we started our mile and a half hike back down the mountain.

Five minutes into our decent, we noticed RoRo talking with a short, older gentleman. The gentleman’s face was drawn tight and hard with evidence of life in Haiti. His frame was small, but not frail. His muscular physic had no doubt been chiseled by years of working intense labor and the amount of effort it took simply to climb the mountain to his home each day. RoRo called us over to meet the gentleman and his family. In the introduction, we learned his wife died just months before our visit and he was now the lone parent of his nine daughters. Three of his daughters still lived at home, including Phara.

Before we knew it, chairs were being placed around their small yard and we were being highly encouraged to have a seat (as is custom in Haiti), while many of our guides and followers sat in the grass on the hillside. RoRo proceeded to translate for the father as Phara was helped into a chair in front of Dr. Allen. When she laid her heavily used crutch by her side, I noticed the padding was gone from the armrest and it was sharp around the edges. The bottom of the crutch had lost, or was given to her without, the rubber cap and the foot of the crutch was uneven. I was trying to imagine walking up and down the mountain with that. It was then that we learned Phara’s story and started to see Christ’s healing plan unfold.

We learned of Phara’s passion for nursing and her determination to finish high school in order to go on to University. We also learned of her accident, the numerous unsuccessful attempts to repair her leg throughout the last four years, and the challenges her mother and father had trying to pay for the seven surgeries. While describing all this, Phara’s father was noticeably excited! RoRo turned to Dr. Allen and I, and with giddiness, told us that Phara and her father informed him, “God has answered our prayers.”

The previous evening, Phara’s community went to a prayer meeting at their church. She had been in so much pain that she was incapable of making the walk down the mountain, nor would she be able to make it back up. Although her pain immobilized her, she knew she could still pray. She and one of her sisters stayed home and spent the night praying. She prayed to God that He would heal her, take her pain, and relieve her father of the burden she felt she had laid upon him. Phara prayed all night, without ceasing.

At this point, Dr. Allen was in the middle of lifting a past x-ray to the sun to view the still fractured tibia in Phara’s leg. Just as he raised the film, Phara said, “And the next day, two white people walked past our house. We don’t see blans (foreigners or white people) here. I knew God heard my prayers.” I looked at RoRo and the first thing that came to my mind and quickly out of my mouth was, “There is no way she could have known that one of the two white people walking past her home was an orthopedic surgeon…!” Despite not knowing RoRo, Phara went on, she knew she could not let him leave her home until she spoke with him and had met us.

Lowering the x-rays, Dr. Allen simply said, “We can fix this.” In his ever calm, teaching demeanor, Dr. Allen started talking Phara and her father through how he would proceed in fixing Phara’s leg. During the explanation, I am looking back and forth at Phara and her father’s face, thinking to myself, “ If only they knew what had happened just two weeks before we left for Haiti.” Just two weeks before we had left, God had gifted us with an abundance of orthopedic equipment for the hospital as a donation! Something that I, with 17 years in healthcare and Dr. Allen, with 30 years as an orthopedic surgeon, believed was a miracle! Without this gift, we would not have been able to have the same conversation with Phara and her father.

My thoughts were interrupted as Phara’s father suddenly stood up and walked into the house. RoRo and a male family friend followed him into the home. As I wanted to make certain we did not offend him in any way, I abruptly followed. Entering the small home, I found myself standing with three Haitian men who where weeping. Phara’s father was explaining to RoRo that he never thought Phara would walk without a crutch again, be able to live on her own, get married, have a job! But he knew it was going to be different this time, just as God told him! He knew Phara would be healed! At this point, I was sobbing.

A few short weeks later, Phara, her father, RoRo, and Dr. Allen were together again, but this time at the Peredo Community Hospital. It was time for her surgery. As the operating room was being prepared, the group turned to God for His healing and guidance through the surgery. With a smile on her face, Phara was wheeled into the operating room.

Despite needing to return to the States, Dr. Allen, Phara, and the physicians of the Peredo Community Hospital remained in close contact regarding Phara’s recovery. Almost three weeks post surgery, we received a video of Phara walking forward and backward without crutches! It was the first time in four years that she was able to do so! And just three months after the surgery, Phara was able to dance at her sister’s wedding, without crutches! Phara plans to continue the pursuit of her dream to become a nurse and be an instrument of Christ’s healing.

“Take up your mat and walk!”

“Talitha koum (Little girl, I say to you, get up!)!”

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

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4 Responses to “Take Up Your Mat and Walk!

  • An awesome inspirational story about what he power of God and those who serve in His mighty kingdom!

  • Loren C Roberts
    2 months ago

    I cried tears of joy through this entire letter.
    Every morning in my prayer time one of the things I pray for is “fruit.” Fruit that can be seen which would be an encouragement to missionaries.
    This girl’s surgery is fruit, the result of her church family prayers and our Lord’s hearing these prayers. Praise God.

  • James & Barbara Eakins
    1 month ago

    Praise God for his wonderful work in this young woman’s life. He puts his hands on earth where they are needed–Dr. Allen, RoRo and the Peredo Hospital. What a wonderful and exciting event.

  • James & Barbara Eakins
    1 month ago

    Praise God for his wonderful work in this young woman’s life. He puts his hands on earth where they are needed–Dr. Allen, RoRo and the Peredo Hospital. What a wonderful and exciting event.