The hospital is facing a nursing shortage this year. Early in the year we had to close one inpatient ward for a month or so. We have continued adjusting and limping along all year. Now we have had more staff resign (many of them new people who had come this year and probably just took a job until other applications they had sent out went through). We came close to closing the medical ward again this month in order to cut our child and adult admissions in half to keep our outpatient, surgery, and delivery services running. We praise God that some of our tutors from the Nursing College and some from our Primary and Rural Health service nurses are filling in to keep the ward open. We are actively advertising and trying to recruit people. We appreciate your prayers.
The crisis is largely due the government giving a 45% pay raise to nurses in government facilities and nothing to those in church-run facilities (the church health facilities get their pay from the government). There has always been a discrepancy between the two systems but never anything like this. Also many NGO’s, and private health care are hiring even beyond what the government can pay. There is a huge nursing shortage in PNG and the churches, who run half the health care in the country, have been left behind. All the church run services in the country I have talked to are facing the same problems. It is even worse for us because we are the biggest church run facility in the country with the most services offered, so losing so many staff has hit us very hard.
Yesterday we had a meeting with all the nursing staff to discuss these issues. Many gave testimonies of their call to be here, how they experienced God’s blessings here, and challenged others to stay. After several of those one man reminded the group that they were basically preaching to the choir. He said, “we are the ones that stayed”. He went on to point out many have stayed through other crisis of the past. His statement of dedication got me thinking about the crisis we face. I can’t count how many times I have called it a crisis. I said to the group, “Why do we keep calling this a crisis?” Last year we trimmed the budget and gave a pay raise despite no more help from the government and everyone was happy about that. If we were content last year that our pay was enough to take care of our families why is it not enough this year? It isn’t that we are making less – it is that we are comparing ourselves to others. Now many think their pay isn’t enough because they know someone makes more. It is a natural human response but one we should be careful about spiritually. The administration will keep knocking on doors of the authorities because this isn’t fair but what about us as individuals? I pointed out that the missionary doctors, the national administrators, and many of the nurses I know turned down high paying jobs jobs to stay here or to come in the first place. They knew what they were giving up – they gave it to God, so we never hear them complain now. The crisis isn’t that we are worse off than last year, it is that we have more people who compare themselves to others and lose their sense of call. What we have is a crisis of contentment.
It reminded me of one of our national leaders in a meeting recently saying he felt like a difficult thing in being in administration was always trying to change every little thing in response to complaints. He asked, “Where is the contentment? – If we are a Christian group working together shouldn’t there be a little room for contentment in our lives?” That phrase was running through my head at the staff meeting – “a little room for contentment”. It is a good spiritual challenge to our lives as well. Not that we shouldn’t seek justice or fairness in our world but when trials come do we show a little contentment in our lives? Do we really have a belief that God will work things out? Do we compare our lives, our blessings, our pay, our work, our circumstances to others?
It seems to me that during this time of “crisis” the versus that keep coming to me are not ones about God rescuing us from danger, or looking to the hills for help. No it is things like “Rejoice in the Lord, always”, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” “The fellowship of sharing in His suffering.” “Carry each others burdens”. “Consider it pure joy, when you face trials.” “Perseverance must finish its work.” ” A remnant chose by grace”…. And so I realize maybe God is trying to teach me something about contentment as well. No – I am not worried about my pay, but am I content in the work He has placed me in? Am I content to serve Him in any difficult situation? Is my call affected by what others do or do not do? Do I show to others that God has given me a “Peace that transcends all understanding and guards my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus”?
When people look at you during your trials do they see your life has a little extra space for contentment?