“I’m sorry. We’re closed,” said Dr. Kuhn as he locked the doors to the small medical clinic. The man who had approached him as he was leaving had said his son had a headache.
It was around 6:30 pm on a Thursday evening. Dr. Bradley Kuhn had left his practice in Durbanville, South Africa around 2 pm that afternoon after a full morning of work.
He left early to drive to the informal settlement of shanties and lean-tos called “Kliphuewel” or Stone Hill. Arriving around 3:30 pm, he spent the afternoon providing his expertise to those in need of it in this impoverished shanty-town.
Many households in Stone Hill are single-parent households, living on social grants that are the equivalent of anywhere from $50-$103 USD a month.
Stone Hill, South Africa is an informal settlement outside Durbanville.
Many are single-parent households living on government grants of $50-$103 per month.
Because Dr. Kuhn offers his services free of charge, the clinic can see patients for free unless they need medication, which the clinic does charge for at a loss.
Before the clinic opened earlier this year, Stone Hill residents in need of medical care had to somehow pay for a ride to the clinics or hospitals in the city.
Often, arriving to find that the maximum number of patients that could be seen in a day had been met. They would be turned away, and weakened in the process.
Some cases Dr. Kuhn sees at the clinic are serious, like infections, burns and appendicitis. Others are not.
It had been a long day for Dr. Kuhn, and he was ready to get home.
He finished saying goodbye to the children eating the sandwiches provided by the ministry at the community center next door and turned to walk away.
Dr. Bradley Kuhn with some of the youth from the settlement at a community event.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Dr. Kuhn recalls,
I remembered the words of Ron Kronz who had preached at our church the Sunday past. He had preached on second Kings 4.
The widow came to Elisha and asked him to help her as her dead husband’s creditors were coming. Instead of asking what she needed, Elisha asked what she had and then used that to solve her dilemma.
Ron encouraged us to use what God has given us to fill the jars of others (as the story goes).
As I walked away from this man I recalled the conviction I had. Even though sometimes I didn’t feel like seeing patients, it was a skill that God had entrusted to me as my life unfolded.
I said to myself "pour your oil, pour your oil".
I called him back and told him to bring his son. His wife was around the corner.
As I opened the clinic she came in with her son on her back wrapped in a blanket. Expecting a baby, I was surprised when I saw it was an 11-year-old strapped like a baby to her back.
He couldn’t walk. His head was pulled backward.
I lay him on the bed and just knew before I examined him that this kid had meningitis. My cursory tests confirmed it. I loaded them up into my car and took them to the big hospital in the city about 30 km away.
Praise the Lord, the initial word from the hospital is that the young man came through this ordeal without any permanent damage.
The existence of the clinic, right in the settlement, declares the lives of residents of Stone Hill are valuable.
The mere presence of the clinic in Stone Hill stands in stark contrast to the culture around it.
Pushed out of mainstream cities and into the margins of society, these bearers of God’s image in Stone Hill have no reason not to believe the propaganda they hear from all sides, “Your life doesn’t matter. You have no value.”
This even impacts the daily decisions they make.
In the Jesus Storybook Bible for children, Sally Lloyd-Jones paraphrases, “God saw all that he had made and he loved them. And they were lovely because he loved them.”
After message followed by message of marginalization and indifference from society, this is the message Stone Hill needs to hear: they are lovely and they matter because He loves them.
It’s the message that the clinic’s very presence declares for all to see. And it’s the message that is underlined each time the clinic opens its doors.
Unfortunately, when the clinic and all its supplies are locked up and closed, the kingdom resources that were used to make it possible aren’t being utilized to their full potential.
The clinic sees twenty to thirty patients each day that it is open.
In addition to Dr. Kuhn’s hours on Thursday afternoons, the current funding allows the clinic to open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11am-5pm.
ITMI supporters from all over the US have stood in the face of the damaging messages of indifference and marginalization and declared, “Not if we can help it!” through their support of the ministry at Stone Hill.
Will you join them?