Last week I had to spend three unexpected days in the local Presbyterian Hospital here in Taipei for a heart catheterization. Thankfully, all turned out well. But I want to share with you some experiences from those three days.
The early missionaries here, as in so many places around the globe, started churches to share the good news of the gospel, started schools to educate the mind, and started hospitals to care for the body. This three-pronged ministry mirrors Jesus’ ministry when he was on earth.
The Presbyterian hospitals here have grown to be large teaching hospitals and see thousands of patients each day around the country. The hospital is not just for inpatient treatment, but many folks also come to the hospital to see their doctor for a routine appointment. Because so many folks come to these Presbyterian hospitals each day, the pastoral care department is a vital ministry in the hospital’s care for both in and outpatients.
Unlike American hospitals where the stay is shorter and shorter, I was admitted Wednesday evening to prep for my procedure on Thursday afternoon. Everyone in Taiwan has government health insurance (including all internationals with an Alien Resident Card by law). The premiums are very low, and the service is very good. The entire three-day stay with the procedure cost me about $160 USD out-of-pocket.
With so many former students serving as pastors throughout the country, I was well prayed for. The folks from the pastoral care department brought their guitar and sang for me. Singing is common for churches as they visit members in the hospital. They also helped me navigate the many tests I had to have before the procedure. I walked from department to department to get my blood taken, an X-ray done, and an EKG done. If I had been really sick, I guess I would have been wheeled to these different departments.
I was very impressed by the care which the pastoral care people offer to all patients and their families whether they are Christian or not. Because Taiwan is a non-Christian land, most of the patients are not Christian. But they visit these patients and offer to pray for them and show loving concern.
My cardiac doctor is a young man who is not a Christian. But I was impressed by the time he took to listen carefully and answer my questions. When I was wheeled into the operating room where they do the heart cath, I told the doctor and nurses (who were not Christian) that I would like to pray for them before they did the procedure. They bowed their heads as I prayed. After I said “amen” they still had their heads bowed, so I told the doctor it was ok to begin.
They used to do heart caths through an artery in the groin which meant you had to lie still for four to six hours after the procedure to prevent bleeding. But my doctor did the procedure through the wrist, which meant that when it was done I could be up and about. They only use a local anesthesia, so you are aware of what the doctor is doing. Immediately after the procedure, the doctor explained the results.
I had to spend that night after the procedure in the hospital as well and since I was in a double room, I got to know my roommate who was going to have the same procedure the next day.
As I was getting ready to check out, a volunteer stopped by to talk with my roommate and his wife. They are not Christian. The volunteer very respectfully shared his faith with them. He then came to see me. When he found out I was a pastor, he asked me if I had shared my faith with my roommate.
I was inspired by the way the church cares for all patients with Christ’s love. One of the gifts of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan is the way they share their faith so naturally and respectfully with others. They have received a precious gift, and they want others to also receive this gift. I wrote my doctor a note this morning thanking him for his excellent care and also am praying that he will come to know the Great Healer who gives us the gifts to be agents of healing to others.
It was a grace-filled experience to see God at work in the hospital.
Wishing you a grace-filled week,