PEACE BE STILL
Peace Be Still
Revelation 12:11 says: “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; …”. When we tell testimonies of the Lord God’s power and saving grace on our lives, the devil slinks away tail between legs. So, let us share our amazing stories of God’s love in action and shame the evil one.
We look forward to reading your own story of faith in the coming weeks. Your well-written story should be about 1000 words. Send your story to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Selected stories will be compiled into an anthology of stories of faith.
Here is today’s story of faith told by Barbara C Nkala. Enjoy! Look
out for the next story of faith soon.
Master, the tempest is raging
Oh the billows are tossing high
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness
Oh no shelter or help is nigh
Carest Thou not that we perish
How can you lie there asleep?…
Get up Jesus because
The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will
Peace be still, Peace be still …
I love this song, especially the Gaither version led by Jesse Dixon. I do not know how many hundreds of times I played it in 2020. The Covid-19 tempest raged but I was assured over and over that the Lord Jesus is there to say, “Peace be still!” (Mark 4:35-41).
“I think when Baba comes you guys must go to South Africa,” said Dumi, our daughter repeating what she had said the day before. “You guys are said to be most vulnerable to this Covid thing. If you get infected, at least there are working hospitals there.”
Normally, I enjoy taking a break in eMzansi (South Africa). But, this was not the right time. I was expecting an Auntie from Bulawayo who was scheduled to see a specialist in Harare. So, going south was out of question. Shadreck, my husband was due to come from Bulawayo on Sunday, 22 March 2020. The following evening, Dumi repeated that we should go and she was getting tickets. My Auntie was arriving the following morning, on Tuesday, with her daughter, Sihle. I took them to the specialist, then Sihle and I later had to make all sorts of paperwork arrangements and bookings. My Auntie was very sick. But we had to get proof of payment for the very expensive operation my Auntie was going to undertake. Her son in Australia and family were sending the money.
Meanwhile I had consented to travel later that afternoon. I was very unhappy, yet I knew if sickness came our way, my husband in particular would fare better in SA. So, off we went, thinking we would be there just for two weeks or so. We were there two days when President Cyril Ramaposa announced a Lockdown at midnight on Thursday, 26 March, which would last three weeks. We also learnt a lockdown would be effected back home the following Monday, on 30th March. Still, we believed we would be back home soon after those three weeks.
We were only in SA about three days when Shadreck said,
“Please check under my foot. I seem to have a sore.”
“Yes, it’s a tiny tiny lesion, the size of a small bean. Maybe a thorn went into your foot while you were in Bulawayo.”
When a foreign object goes into one’s flesh, pus builds up then one can squeeze out the stuff which usually comes out with the pus. This lesion was strange. It was not pussy, there was no swelling, and it was somehow raw. Shadreck said it did not really hurt unless he stepped on a stone as he walked. We decided that it should be checked out. The Doctor he saw said he should not be visiting hospitals as Covid was rampant.
This lesion was just below the two small toes under my husband’s right foot. Between the two toes was a bothersome fungus which had kept manifesting since I married Shadreck forty-four years ago. A cream and some tablets were prescribed. This cream was applied for six weeks but nothing changed much concerning the small lesion. The area around it was becoming dark. Meanwhile, Covid-19 was raging on. After the first lockdown came the next, termed Stage 4. We began to be resigned to the fact that this virus was going nowhere. People talked about a new normal everywhere. That was disturbing. But, peace be still. I thanked God for providence of technology which kept us in touch with friends and relatives world over.
We sought another Doctor who recommended seeing another physician, who in turn recommended that we see a specialist surgeon at Morningside Medi-Clinic. When Dr P. Marais saw Shadreck’s tiny lesion, he said,
“If you were a White man, I would say this is a cancer. But it is a type that is very rare among Black people. I shall do a biopsy.”
It was problematic to see Doctors during lockdown. Appointments were few and far between. We were asked to see a doctor at the Oncology Centre in Sandton, for results. My antennas quivered. We saw a Dr Omondi Ogude, and he confirmed it was a cancer, melanoma, which he described as very aggressive. I thought of Job’s words, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me” Job 3:25 (NIV). He recommended that Shadreck should undergo a PET-CT Scan that would show what stage the cancer was. Mention of the big C word always makes one’s tummy somersault. I silently said,
“Lord, not again. Why?”
We should never ask WHY but we always do. Shadreck had been so well. Why was this dreaded thing recurring? In 2014 he had suffered the Hodgkins lymphoma and he underwent twelve sessions of chemotherapy. His blood veins were hard to locate and it always was painful to see how he was jabbed over and over with needles to get a vein. That cancer had gone into remission after treatment. Now, again! The PET-CT Scan was done and we waited for the results.
When we went to hear the results after a tortuous week, Dr Ogude said,
“The good news is that the cancer has not moved up the body. It is still located in the foot. The bad news is you will have to undergo amputation. But you will need to go and see Dr Marais who will explain all that you need to do.”
We left Dr Ogude’s rooms feeling downcast and deflated. We had prayed. Many were praying with us. So? Was this it? God had enabled Shadreck to survive in 2014. One cannot stop the mind from racing at 300 km per hour but getting nowhere. One gets headaches and knots in the intestines. It was gloomy news that we relayed to family members. They all encouraged us in different ways and sent lots of ‘Hope’ Scriptures, songs of faith, and uplifting prayers. In all this, I could hear the Lord Jesus rebuke the storm with the words, ‘Peace be still!’
When we visited Dr Marais and his partner specialist Dr Broeze, they sat with us and kindly explained the three options for us to consider.
1. Do nothing. Melanoma was a very aggressive cancer. Very resistant to treatment. By December Shadreck might be no more.
2. Sentinel biopsy and partial amputation of upper foot. Some toes would be amputated as the cancer had already spread. Treatment would give Shadreck some quality of life.
3. Below knee amputation. Difficult mobility. Normally done with younger people of 40 – 50 years. Not recommended for Shadreck.
So, we were asked to go and think about these options, inform family, discuss and come back to give our chosen way forward. We had already consulted Professor Andrew Cakana back home. He had attended Shadreck in 2014, and he also consulted colleagues. He had already let us know earlier the best option. The decision was hard and I wanted my husband to make his own final decision. I prayed. We prayed. Family, relatives, friends and many other people prayed with and for us. Some even fasted and prayed for and with us. We were well covered on that score. The peace of God was almost tangible – that peace which passes all understanding.
Time was not on our side. After prayers one morning, Shadreck said,
“Call the Doctor and tell him I am settling for the second option.”
I praised the Lord. We began to see God’s hand in orchestrating everything. Dumi had taken a medical cover for us two years before which would cover hospitalization and the related oncology treatments. She had pushed us to South Africa. We wondered what would have become of Shadreck if all this had happened at home, where our health delivery system had collapsed. We counted our blessings and named them one by one.
On 12 August, Shadreck was admitted at Morningside-Medi Clinic for the surgery. I could not visit him as that was not allowed because of Covid. I was on a fast and prayer. The best news of the day was when the Doctor’s personal assistant sent me a message that read,
“Good news – the op done and Dr is very happy with how it went. He said hubby may even be able to go home earlier that anticipated if all goes well.” I was so happy I could fly. I sent messages to family who were praying and awaiting outcome. For me, coming out of theatre alive is always the first miracle.
The wound was scary. Two toes had gone. I thanked God still. The whole foot or leg could have gone. The wound was dressed twice a week. There was a time when bacterial infection set in and the wound went so bad I was afraid the foot would be amputated. The Wound Sister who enjoyed bullying patients and boasted 30 years of experience dressing wounds used some honey treatment. I was astounded at the change for better in the wound outlook the very next day. On 11 September, Shadreck was admitted in hospital again for grafting. Dr Marais took a patch of skin from his right thigh to patch the wound. Shadreck spent six full days in hospital and had to stay put even at home so the grafting would set well. His feet had to be elevated all the time. That was not easy, but he soldiered on. I became the home nurse. Healing was slow but we saw improvement as weeks progressed. Dr Marais was happy with progress. God had been more than good to us.
We were in South Africa for a full seven months. One of the joyous events was a zoom Thanksgiving meeting organised by our brother-in-law, Bishop Ngwiza Mnkandla. There were over sixty relatives and close friends from Canada, Ethiopia, South Africa, UK, US and Zimbabwe. It just was such a blessed evening of blessings, worshiping and praying together and acknowledging God’s mercies. About mid October, the Oncologist gave Shadreck a clean bill of health. We understood the many singers, biblical and otherwise who sang,
“What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me?” Psalm 116:12 (KJV).
We prepared to travel home. The wound would heal completely at home. First, Shadreck had used two walking sticks. He soon graduated to one. Now, he walks even without a stick.
As soon as we arrived home, I began to have my own health issues attended. I had eye cataracts removed one after another in two weeks. I had a bothersome growth removed from my chest and it had no malignancy as we had feared. 2020 has come and gone. Covid-19 continues to wreak havok and take lives. Sometimes we are filled with fear when we see beloved folks fall sick and die. But suffice to say, we cannot stop counting our blessings and singing praises because we witnessed His hand of mercy on our lives in 2020. And best of all, the Master was ever present to say, “Peace be still.”