The following is, we believe, the first article for publication from Dr. Galdino Vieira, the director of our Casa de Saude (Health Home) in the second city of Brazil. The Sao Paulo Clinic (Casa de Saude Liberdade) is a nicely located, well-equipped thirty-five-bed saniariunz and hospital, operated by the Siio Paulo Confernce. Dr. Galdina, as he is familiarly known to his patients and the worker group, is an unusually capable and well-qualified physician. He is not only very successful in his practice of medicine but is also a very earnest Seventh-day Adventist, possessed of the earnest desire to bring every one of his patients to Christ and to the experience of full and complete salvation in Him. A sincere spirit of devotion exists on the part of the workers in this institution. On entering the front door, one senses that the very atmosphere is not that of the ordinary hospital in South America. Will the readers of this interesting article not join us in, praying for God's abundant blessing to rest richly upon the workers at Sao Paulo, and their efforts in this institution?
The Saviour wishes us to encourage the sick, the afflicted, and the discouraged to lay hold upon His strength. Through faith and prayer the sickroom may be transformed into a bethel. By their words and their actions the physicians and nurses may say with unquestionable certainty, "God is present in this place to save and not to destroy." Christ wishes to manifest His presence in the sickroom and fill the hearts of the sick with the sweetness of His love, The Casa de Saude, here I work, has proved itself a bethel many
One morning we operated on a man who had suffered from a ruptured stomach ulcer for more than twenty-four hours. It was a very serious case and surgery was the only remedy. The first few days after the operation he was progressing well. Then peritonitis set in, and he suffered a great deal. With almost constant vomiting, distended abdomen, weak and rapid pulse, he was truly a picture of despair ! We strove with death more in this case than in any other we have had. One night, in spite of everything that had been done for him, he was much worse.
"I am dying," he cried, turning to the nurse. "Do you believe in God?" the nurse asked him. "Yes, I believe in God," he replied.
"Then, let us pray," she said, and kneeling down at the bedside, she prayed most earnestly for the man.
"Now I am better," the patient said after the prayer.
Several days passed. We were going to operate on a man sixty-eight years of age, afflicted with a cancer of the stomach. He already knew the truth, but he had not yet surrendered to Jesus. I spoke with him and encouraged him to yield his heart to Jesus before his operation, and to be baptized after his recovery. While we were talking I heard a voice from the other side of the room, saying, "I want to be baptized, too." It was the man I have already referred to. During that night of anguish and despair, while the prayer of the nurse ascended to heaven, the sick man surrendered his heart to his Saviour.
The third Sabbath in each month in the Central church in Sao Paulo is medical missionary Sabbath, on which we conduct a health program. In one of my sermons I felt an urge to ask whether there was anyone present who wished to manifest his gratitude for blessings received at the Casa de Saude. Four persons stood up, three of whom were not Adventists. One said that she was already a Sabbath school member and had made that decision because I had come to her room to pray with her before her operation. Another said that she wished to express in public her gratefulness for the recovery of her child from infantile paralysis. (This was a charity case, for the family was very poor.) The other was a woman who had undergone a minor operation at our hospital, and who since then had been a frequent visitor at our church.
For the benefit of our patients we conduct worship at the hospital each evening. These worship periods are held in the visitors' room, since we do not have a chapel. Soon after Brazil declared war on the Axis powers, the sailors on the Italian ships anchored in the port of Santos were held prisoners. Some were ill and were hospitalized in our Casa de Saude. They assisted in our worship, singing the hymns with us. We talked with them considerably concerning the vice of smoking and other matters that arose during our contact with them.
We hardly thought our visits with them had much beneficial results, but after leaving they returned to the prison, and one night some time later, we were surprised to see two of them who had come back to our hospital to attend worship. They told us that they lived in the interior, and having come to Sao Paulo for a short time, they wished to take advantage of this opportunity and visit our meeting. They returned once more after that.
One day there arrived a woman, a patient of another physician. She said she had come to Sao Paulo to get the money for which she had sold her cattle—a sum of 400,000 cruzeiros ($20,000). Her make-up, hairdress, etc., gave her a very worldly appearance, and we did not think she would ever be influenced by the truth. However, we visited her daily, and even after she had permission to leave the hospital, she still attended our worship for two days. When she left she asked whether we had a church in the state where she lived. We informed her that in a short time we would be beginning a series of meetings, and gave her the address where they would be held. After arriving home she found our minister and visited the meetings. As a result of this contact, she accepted the message and nine believers were baptized.
We are very thankful to God for the blessings He has lavished upon us, and to Him we attribute all the benefits that our medical work may have wrought. We claim the words found in James I :17 as pertaining to the results of our work "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights."