Celebrate with us what God has done!
1. Emmanuel Tarkwia
As told by Emily Smith, LEM Child Sponsorship Coordinator
Emmanuel Tarkwia, or E-man as everyone calls him, was born in 2012 in Liberia, West Africa. He was born with a hole in his heart. Because of this, he had extreme difficulty breathing, keeping his pulse ox high enough, and playing with his 4 siblings and many friends. He would often pass out for hours at a time while his family would gather around and pray over him until he came to.
Liberia was ravaged for 14 years during a civil war from 1989-2003. Because of this war, the country was left with no electricity or running water and very little medical care. While the country is now growing and improving slowly, the medical system is still very primitive in many areas. When it came to E-man, there were no services available to help him—not even an echo machine anywhere in the country to check his heart. The only way for him to get healing was to go out of Liberia. But that would cost money and with the majority of Liberians being subsistence farmers, including E-man’s parents, Emmanuel and Kuku, saving the money to get heart surgery in another country would be impossible. So they waited and prayed. For 5 years, E-man miraculously kept fighting, knowing God would provide his healing through surgery one day. Every time he saw a plane overhead, he would say, “My plane is coming to get me!”
Brian and I work on the child sponsorship team for Light Evangelism Ministry. E-man’s dad, Emmanuel, also works as a volunteer pastor for LEM. When Brian and I went to Liberia in March 2017 to work on our program, we were able meet E-man for the first time. It was heartbreaking. He was laying on a bench, gasping for air, and whimpering. HIs lips were blue. He didn’t even have the energy to sit up. We, along with LEM’s founders, Mark and Eunice Dahn, committed right then and there to exhaust all efforts to get surgery for Eman.
We made dozens of phone calls, just stabbing in the dark, trying to find a hospital in America that would work pro bono. After months of trying, we finally found one in Florida willing to do the surgery and even had friends who would take care of Eman and Kuku while they were here. But we were devastated when the American Embassy in Liberia told us they would not grant a medical visa for any reason.
Back to square one. I put out a general plea on Facebook. Did anyone know what we could do to help Eman? My friend, Michelle, commented, “Elizabeth Novick?” I quickly got connected with Mrs. Novick, sent her Eman’s papers from the Liberian doctors, and waited to hear. I was thrilled when she shared that Novick Cardiac Alliance would take on Eman’s case!! The first available country was Libya. We got to within days of travel, just to have the visa fall through.
Back to square one again. Ukraine was next. Our hopes were quickly dashed as we found out Eman and Kuku would have to fly to Senegal to get a visa for Ukraine. The extra travel would be impossible for Eman in his condition. And the money for the extra flights was more than we could afford.
Back to square one. Again. Martina Pavanic sent me a list of all the countries NCA worked in, as we were both starting to question if visas to those areas would ever be possible. She also got me in touch with another agency doing the same work, but they told us they could not help us without an EKG, which wasn’t possible in Liberia. I looked at the countries from Martina again and just started Googling Liberian visas with those countries. I was thrilled to see that Lebanon had one in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city! I emailed Martina to see when the next Lebanese trip would be. October 23. Just 24 days from then. And then she gave me the news that the hospital fee would be almost double the other countries we’d tried. I felt like it was impossible yet again, and wasn’t even going to try. But Eunice Dahn said, “Of course we try! God is the God of possibility!”
We had been raising money and had about $7200 ready to go. How in the world would we raise another $5000 in just 3 weeks?? I put the plea out on Facebook and got just $150. I was so upset. His surgery was right there in front of us, but money was the mountain blocking our way.
On October 11, Kuku called me. Eman had had a horrible couple of days. He wasn’t eating. He was sleeping a lot and was not able to get off the floor. He was so,so sick. We prayed together and I promised her I’d do all I could. I got on Facebook and posted a video explaining the call I’d just received. I BEGGED people for money! I tagged a few people and asked them to share it. The money started to pour in. So much so that Go Fund Me started sending me hourly reports instead of individual notifications. Our local church took up a special offering that night for Eman, and in just one day, we raised over $5000!! We were fully funded, and Eman would have his surgery!
One more hurdle. The Visas. Emmanuel and Kuku went to the Embassy and were told the man who wrote the letter from the Lebanese hospital would have to call the Embassy to confirm the validity of the case. How in the world could we do that? So at 5:00 am, I just picked up the phone and called the number on the letter. After asking for someone who spoke English, and after a few attempts, I was finally connected with an English speaking man. He just so happened to be the very man I needed to talk to. Dr. Yasser Amman. Dr. Amman called the Embassy and Eman and Kuku were granted their visas…just 5 minutes before the Embassy was closing for the day.
No more hurdles. No more mountains. Eman’s surgery was on it’s way.
Emmanuel Tarkwia received his healing surgery on October 25. His heart was completely repaired, and we know that Eman has a beautiful future ahead of him. God has saved his life for something BIG, and we are praying he will provide great change in his home country of Liberia one day!
2. Zarwonba Karnue