"Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." – 2 Corinthians 1:4
I came in contact with Paul in January 2013 through my consulting work for a Ugandan charity he also worked for, though we didn't meet in the flesh until I visited Uganda a year later in March 2014. In addition to our common interests of design and technology was the fact that we had very similar personalities and I was really touched by Paul's earnest faith in God despite a very tragic background story.
Little did I know it was about to become more tragic still. A week after I returned from my Uganda trip Paul revealed he had been diagnosed with stage one colon cancer. He had been undergoing checks for some time but been in denial about it until he received biopsy results that confirmed the undeniable truth. He collapsed in despair. As a student with no job or family support in a third world country where hospital treatment costs a lot of money it might as well have been a death sentence he held in his hand.
He had recently had an overseas sponsor suddenly withdraw funding without explanation for his information systems course he was in his second year of at university and was entirely dependent on the little the Uganda charity's founders could spare him to cover his fees since he had been taken into their home along with their own six children.
Of course, knowing his circumstances, when I heard this news I knew it would be impossible for that family to fund the medical treatment required as well as every other demand already upon them so I contacted someone who had recently began to sponsor Paul's university fees and we set about planning what kind of assistance we could mobilise to get him through this.
We rallied round Paul to offer spiritual and emotional support first of all and thankfully he came around to accept the prospect of surgery (which he had rejected out of hand as too frightening to contemplate) while I sent out an email appeal to friends and family contacts for anyone interested in joining a network to provide prayer and financial support for Paul during this process.
What followed was a whirlwind 2 months of almost daily health crises and answers to prayer that left us all astounded by the power God mobilised through people motivated by love for this boy. Prayers for his healing went up in those first 2 weeks and when he went for his pre-surgery colonoscopy the tumours which had been present at the last colonoscopy in January had gone, leaving only dried scars in their place. The surgeon and his doctor were dumbfounded and thought he had gone elsewhere for surgery in the interval. It seemed that something miraculous had happened on Paul's behalf. But still the effects of his chemotherapy he had been undergoing remained, and brought him close to death through delirium and malaria on several occasions, during the subsequent two months as his body slowly recovered from its effects. But by May he had regained his appetite and strength and we received this amazing picture of him as testimony to the miraculous change in 2 months. And thanks to the network of supporters he was able to pay for all the necessary hospitalisations and checks and medication throughout that period - an amount of over £1000 all provided by donations. An inconceivable amount for him. His joy, amazement and thanks was full!
Now we are continuing to support Paul in his further education as he pursues a career in law. We see this as not only a continuation of our Christian privilege to support him materially given his lack of social and economic resources but as an investment in his future potential as a contributor to others around him in future and his community.
To find out the latest on Paul's story and how you can help support this cause check out our blog posts under the tag Paul Fund below or sign up to our mailing list for updates on his progress.