Michael Gantt

Planting the Seeds of Renewal


Winnie’s Heart

Picking a fight with the Philistines

If there is a character from the pages of the Bible that makes things come to life for me, and if there is a single moment in that character’s life that stirs up my spirit, it is King David’s friend, Jonathan.  In 1 Samuel 14, Saul and the armies of Israel were hiding in their tents, fearful of engaging the Philistines. During the night, Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Let’s go pick a fight with the Philistines. It may be that the Lord will be with us.” (My translation)

Each time I am confronted by an unscalable mountain or an impossible circumstance; every time someone says to me, “That’s impossible!” Prince Jonathan of Israel leaps into my mouth. He was a mighty warrior who did not bend before the impossible, who would not yield to the improbable, and refused go down without a fight. He did not know the Lord would help him, but he knew the only way to find out was to engage the enemy. Jonathan walked right into the enemy’s camp and punched him in the nose and for sure, the Lord was with him!

That’s my kind of man!

I am about to punch the enemy in the nose and I do not know whether I will be successful.  However, I have come to a place where I must try. I cannot hide in my tent and hope things work out nor, can I bury my head in the sand and say, “That’s just the way it is.”

Last week, while on mission in Kenya, our team nurse told me, “We’ve got a kid who is in real trouble.” Instinctively, I knew what was coming next because I had been there before, just about two years ago.  He explained to me that a little girl by the name of Winnie has a severely enlarged heart, with severe aortic damage. I am using my words because I don’t understand most of the words that Will used. I don’t understand the words, but I know their meaning:  Winnie is going to die. I wanted to see for myself so I sent one of the staff for her.  Within a few minutes this beautiful, perfect wisp of a little girl stood before me. Perfect, except that she is living under a death sentence.

They think Winnie is nine, but no one seems to know for sure. She looks younger. Small, frail, and innately aware that something is not right.  As I sat chatting with her, I could see her heart beating in her throat as she stood in front of me. As I watched her, in the background I heard someone ask our nurse, Will Moye, what could be done to treat her.

Will’s reply was direct, honest, and chilling: “She needs a new heart.”

Winnie is going to die without a new heart.

As I hugged Winnie I held on for just a moment, and then sent her back to her class. I was holding Winnie, but I was remembering Naomi.  Almost exactly the same age and frame as Winnie, Naomi was diagnosed by our team nurse in 2016.  Becky Steele said, after examining the fragile little girl, “This child is gravely ill. She is probably not going to live long.” Diagnosis? A severely enlarged heart.  We tried to get Naomi to a large, very respected mission hospital in Bomet, about three hours away but before we could arrange to go, Naomi fell sick and was too weak to travel the long journey to Bomet. She was hospitalized closer to the school.  That was February 2016. On May 31, I received a message that Naomi was dead.

I arrived back in the states yesterday, after a very intense two weeks of ministry in Kenya and I am supposed to be resting. However, I am driven from my rest by the reality that while I can easily take the time to recover from my travels, Winnie doesn’t have the luxury of time.  With every beat of that massive pump in her chest Winnie is drawn closer to death. She doesn’t have the luxury of my rest.

I am at this moment trying to arrange an appointment at Tenwek Hospital in Bomet for Winnie to be seen by a team of doctors who can confirm or challenge Will’s diagnosis. Should they confirm his findings, and agree that a heart transplant could save her life, I am already working with contacts here in the states to see whether we can find a hospital and team of doctors who will be willing to perform the surgery.  I am not yet even entertaining the possibility of a heart not being available.

This is not a fundraising post. I am not asking for your money.  I’m asking for your prayers that I might find favor with God on Winnie’s behalf.  I am fully aware that the probability of success is tiny and the problems would appear to be insurmountable. I’ve been here before and I am convinced the only way to see if the Lord will help is to engage the enemy.  The only way to see a miracle is to be in a place where only a miracle will save.

The only way to see if the Lord will help is to pick a fight.

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