Friday, June 23, 2017

A Year of Mending Hearts

Emily Arneson, program manager for Children’s Heart Project in Mongolia, blogs about seeing God work through the program in 2011.

The theme of Children’s Heart Project Mongolia last year was disciple making.

Since the Children’s Heart Project began in Mongolia 11 years ago, 273 children have had their hearts physically repaired. Over 80 of those children were repaired in Mongolia through visiting surgical teams.

Our ultimate goal is for these children and families to become disciples of Christ. We thank the Lord for how He has moved in the lives of the families we work with.

We are excited to report that 14 children from Mongolia went to five different cities in North America for open-heart surgery. Another child had a repair for an arrhythmia. We are so thankful for how well these children are doing as they once faced an uncertain future in a country where there are few surgical options for congenital heart defects.

It takes a team to make this happen, so we are so grateful for the support we received through so many people and hospitals. Most importantly, many of these mothers and some children came to know and trust in the Lord. Our goal is to mend physical hearts, but this is just an avenue to share the Gospel to repair their hearts spiritually through faith in Jesus Christ.

Our 2011 goal of discipleship guided us to start a new program to follow up with our children who have had surgery with our project over the last 11 years. And so began Heart Camps.

Heart Camps create a safe environment for the discipleship of children who have gone through surgery with CHP. Many of these families heard of Christ while in the United States and Canada through host families and churches. Heart Camp is one key strategy to follow-up with the children. It is a week full of carefully planned worship, stories, games, crafts, and activity times all centered on the Scriptures, with the goal of leading the children into an eternal walk with Jesus Christ.

We held three camps last year, one in Ulaanbaatar, one in Arkhangai, and one in Khovd. Seventy-seven children came, ranging in age from 4 to 20. The camp curriculum went through The Greatest Journey, the same follow-up program used by Operation Christmas Child. This taught the foundational truths of being a follower of Jesus, including our need of salvation through Him.

The children loved small and large group sessions, learned many songs, and enjoyed all the activities they did. We give the Lord the credit for how He worked in the hearts of these children. Many put their faith in Him for the first time, and many others renewed their faith.

CHP partnered with a visiting cardiology and surgical team in September for a week of searching for children with heart defects and a week of mending hearts. Over 2,100 children were screened in Dornogobi, and several were as candidates for procedures. Our ministry team of three older CHP boys shared the Gospel and gave books of John to over 450 people.

The following week, nine children had open-heart surgery and 19 children had cardiac catheters. We were very thankful to receive a container full of supplies for this week of surgeries along with donations to several local hospitals.

 

Many new children continue to be referred to our program. We have enrolled over 30 this year alone. Currently, four children are in the U.S. recovering after surgery. Four will soon depart Mongolia for surgery in the Midwest, and three more will leave for Canada in the next two months.

As we reflect on the Lord’s goodness, we are most grateful that Jesus came to this earth to save us. It is our goal at CHP to share this truth with families while mending physical hearts through surgery.

We are so thankful for the many hospitals that donated surgery and care for some very sick children who can now live a long, healthy life.