Changing Lives, One Patient at a Time

Hospital ministry in Bacolod, Philippines, highlights the key role of prayer.

Delcy Meliza, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review
Changing Lives, One Patient at a Time
Adventist young people lead a prayer ministry at the Adventist Medical Center in Bacolod, Philippines. [Photo: courtesy of Delcy Meliza, Adventist Medical Center-Bacolod]

I was working a routine shift at the hospital when a friend of mine gave me a call and requested a prayer. At that time, she was supposed to have a session of chemotherapy at the Adventist Medical Center in Bacolod, in the Philippines. She asked me to pray for her treatment as she went through the process alone. She remembered that I worked in that hospital, so she called me and asked for a prayer.

As we made our way to the room where the chemotherapy would be administered, I became aware that many other patients would be receiving the same treatment. My heart was completely broken by what I saw at the hospital. You witness feelings of helplessness, desperation, fear, and worry reflected in the eyes of the sufferer. This space needs a voice and a glimmer of hope. Jesus is needed in that room. 

When my friend was getting ready for her procedure, I talked with a woman sitting near my friend’s bed. To my amazement, I later discovered that the woman was a nurse who worked in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). After we had spent some time getting to know one another better, I inquired about the possibility of leading her in prayer. A smile spread across her face. She realized that prayer was the one thing she required more than anything else that this world could provide.

That moment was God’s clear call for me to start a prayer ministry in the hospital.

Immediately following the patient visit, I went to Human Resources and requested permission to spend at least one hour per day praying for patients. They granted my request. I realized that the hospital is not merely a place for people to get better physically; rather, it is also a place where people have a greater need than ever before for Jesus. It is a place where spiritual healing can take place, as well as an opportunity to pray to God and seek the hope and healing that He provides. This paved the way for organizing the iCare for Souls Ministries through the Pastoral Care Services & Human Resource Department of the Adventist Medical Center-Bacolod.

Driven by compassion and God’s mission toward the sick, I was approved to begin the prayer ministry the following week. 

Monday came, and I prepared myself for this new ministry. Surprisingly, the day with the most patients present is Monday. The nurse informed me that all available beds would be taken on Mondays. Inside each room were five beds. I started with the first patient, moved on to the second, and so on, until I had attended to all of them. Just as I was finishing up, the doctor in charge asked if I could come back when he would have his next batch of patients. I said that I would visit the chemo treatment room daily and pray for all the patients. The doctor responded with a huge smile on his face. He knows that aside from what medication and other treatments can give, moral and spiritual support is crucial in encouraging patients that they can get through this challenge with God’s leading and intervention.

Every day I would visit patients receiving chemotherapy and pray alongside them. After that, I would return to my job, overjoyed to have been able to provide them some measure of happiness and solace. The simple prayer ministry we started at the hospital encouraged other doctors to offer special prayers for their patients. This opened avenues for the hospital to connect to patients and share Jesus in their workplace. 

Hearing patients express their gratitude for being remembered and comforted through prayers was a wonderful experience and a blessing. For them, prayer is an opportunity to exhale, to be heard, and to know that God is there to listen to them and be with them in the most trying chapter of their lives. For them, prayer is an opportunity to be heard.

Eventually, the prayer ministry led to Bible study groups with chemotherapy patients and those who were undergoing dialysis. Bibles were also given to patients, hospital doctors, and staff studying the Bible together. United prayer meetings were also organized throughout the hospital. 

The hospital is not just a place for sick people; it’s a place where people try to find hope and life’s answers. Patients are at their most vulnerable while in the hospital and require a safe haven during their stay. A significant responsibility that God has placed on our shoulders is to demonstrate compassion and hope to other people so they may discover that Jesus is the source of hope and healing for them.

Yes, prayer can be simple. But there is no doubt that it can shift mountains. It can soothe roaring waters. It has the potential to bring about a great many wondrous things. More importantly, it can bring hope and healing to someone who is seeking.

The original version of this story was posted on the Southern Asia-Pacific Division news site.

Delcy Meliza, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review