Counselors guide, advise, warn, and encourage. A counseling session is usually a private affair taking place behind closed doors or, as is often the case at The Luke Commission, behind makeshift tarps.

The role and number of TLC counselors has blossomed and continues to grow. Why? Caring for the soul, the inner man or woman, and the outer body go hand in hand. Together they lead to wholeness and wellness.

Counseling is encompassed in TLC’s original name – The Luke Commission Compassionate Medicine. Gentle respect is considered as important as medical treatment.

A TLC counselor is trained and mentored; then he or she trains and mentors new counselors. Meanwhile, the TLC team treats more and more patients every day.

Let’s zero in on a few cases: Londiwe (not her real name) came to the Miracle Campus with serious health problems. She was admitted to TLC’s hospital. A few days later, she was released, but Londiwe said she could not go home because her husband beat her.

She was allowed to stay on campus, where her daily needs were met. Meanwhile, Londiwe’s husband, Mlandvo, showed up at the gate asking, “Why are you keeping my wife?”

In a quiet meeting with counselors, Mlandvo denied abusing Londiwe, saying, “She is the problem.” The counselor explained that pointing fingers at one another would not solve their differences.

Londiwe said she was scared of her husband and “no longer wanted to be a punching bag. I am old enough not to be beaten,” she said. “But I still love my husband.”

Mlandvo noted he had never seen “such a place that would care for my wife and give her food,” even after she had been discharged. Eventually, he admitted that sometimes he was “too angry and hit.”

With counseling and prayer, the couple reconciled. Mlandvo apologized to his wife, promising “not to raise my hand against you again.”

Consider this request from the medical team: “May we have a counselor, please. A patient wants to disclose her HIV status her husband. She has been telling him that she is taking medication to prevent TB but now wants him to know the real reason. He has been asking why is she not stopping the medication.

“He sometimes makes statements that if his wife is HIV positive, she will have to leave him. Patient is so scared of him, as she mentioned that he has anger management issues. We think we need a counselor to explain to the husband.”

Meet 21-year-old Sipho: He is on 3rd-line ART treatment, the last option for living with HIV. Asked how he felt today, Sipho (an alias to protect his privacy) responded with his first smile since coming to TLC.

His nurse verified that Sipho is now proactively taking his medications, knows the hour this must be done, and how many meds should be taken per day.

Recommended by his counselor, Sipho will start a TLC internship, which is light duty work. “He really needs to be occupied and kept busy, as he is still young and had to drop out of school due to sickness,” noted the counselor. Sipho will stay on campus until his health is stabilized.

Every patient receives a spiritual assessment along with his or her physical evaluation. During those times, many patients accept Jesus Christ as their Savior or renew their walk with Him.

Then when nothing else can be done: TLC counselors are alerted any time day or night when someone is near death or passes away in the campus hospital. They contact family members, wait for them to arrive on campus, provide transportation money, pray with them, and assist in initial funeral arrangements.

Dealing with the whole person, hundreds of thousands of persons, is all part of where God has brought The Luke Commission in Eswatini since 2005.  It’s all part of compassionate medicine.

by Janet Tuinstra

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