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Our Journey with Manas

By interserve
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    The remarkable story of god’s ongoing work amid the triumphs and setbacks of one man, as told by Interserve partner Margaret, who served for 19 years as director of a day centre for the homeless in Central Asia.

    Can we pay for Manas’s* first course of chemotherapy?’ my colleague Ulan* asked me, back in March 2021.

    ‘No,’ I replied, ‘We haven’t the money now. Ask him to come in a week and we will see then if the situation is any different.’ Amazingly, a week later we did have money to help with Manas’s first chemotherapy session. Manas was living on the streets and had advanced skin cancer that was causing a deep cavity reaching to his ribs.

    Members of our team had already been to the oncology clinic with Manas on previous occasions. Similarly, this was not the first time I had encountered Manas at life-defining moments. Over a year ago I had sat with him in the MRI department waiting to see the extent of his cancer. On that occasion, he told me that his cancer had been diagnosed whilst in prison. He had been released early to get treatment but he had no money so could do nothing. His mother and aunt had died of skin cancer and he feared he also would die of it. It was there that I had introduced him to the Lord, and where he began to grow in his knowledge and hunger for God.

    We had prepared an official letter asking that fees be wavered for homeless patients like Manas. The doctor was kind and empathetic. ‘Of course,’ he said, ‘We will treat them as an in-patient free of charge but if they need chemotherapy, you must pay for that.’

    Once we had enough money for the first course of chemotherapy, the hospital admitted Manas and he was looked after very well. ‘The cavity has really reduced and is drying up. They say I will need four courses altogether, the next course in a week.’

    ‘I don’t know if we will be able to pay for this, Manas. Come back again in week and we will see.’ I said.

    Just before Manas’s second course, a couple who heard about his situation gave me the money so he could be treated. We longed for our new hospice to be ready to open, but we were still waiting for a licence and the full quota of local nurses that we would train in palliative care. Meanwhile, Ulan found a place for Manas to stay, free of charge, in a private nursing home.

    Some weeks later I learned that the doctors at the oncology hospital had paid for Manas’s third course of chemotherapy and had said they would also pay for the final course. Manas had disappeared and we suspected was drinking again. He had returned to us very dirty and repentant a few times and the private nursing home had again agreed to take him. We visited him regularly, encouraging him in his faith and buying him whatever medicines he needed.

    Eventually, the doctors said that Manas had received all the treatment they could give. We allowed Manas to stay temporarily in a room in our day centre to get him off the streets and prevent him from drinking further. I looked at the sorrowful and repentant man sat in front of me. It was another life-defining moment.

    ‘Manas, can I pray for you?’

    ‘Yes please,’ he said. I did so and he laid down his life before the Lord again. ‘Lord, lead me in your increasingly bright path to yourself.’ I could see the prayer was sincere, and God had brought him renewal and hope; his whole face shone. Our God forgives and is always ready to welcome us back into his arms.

    A few days after this, our hospice finally opened and Manas became our first patient.

    *names changed

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