Jean Bosco is a farmer. Just north of Congo’s capital city of Brazzaville, fields bear the mark of his honest labor – hectares of cassava, gardens of blooming eggplant and tomato, and lime and mango trees providing welcoming shade from the African sun.
Jean and his wife, Carine, worked hard to enjoy life with their six children. They enjoyed simple prosperity and stability . . . until a mysterious growth appeared on Jean’s back in 2003. What Jean calls his maladie was, in fact, a lipoma – a benign, soft-tissue tumor composed of body fat. Left untreated, a lipoma can reach giant proportions.
Jean explains: “When my malady started, it was barely noticeable. But after three years, it began to rise from my shoulders. I became afraid; if I were to die, my family would suffer greatly,” Jean said.
Driven by concern for the well-being of his wife and children, Jean saved enough money for a hospital visit in 2009. But the appointments, bloodwork, and medicine quickly emptied his pockets, and he had to return home without surgery.
Nevertheless, Jean refused to give up. Day after day, he worked to save more money, desperately hoping for healing. Exhausted by the shifting, heavy growth, his work suffered and his fields’ productivity decreased. His family now found itself in dire straits. “At that time,” Jean says, “I abandoned myself to prayer that God would help me.”
Help arrived in God’s creative, unusual way. In 2013, Jean’s lipoma ruptured and began to bleed. He had no choice but to seek emergency medical care in Brazzaville. He found himself once again on the doorstep of surgery but without the means to pay for it. While in the city, he learned of a hospital ship docked in the Congo. “Go to Mercy Ships,” a friend told him. “The surgeons will help you for free.” Jean was amazed, and he wasted no time in traveling to the coastal city of Pointe Noire.
By the time Jean boarded the Africa Mercy, the watermelon-shaped lipoma protruding from his back weighed 20 pounds! Even in extreme cases, a lipoma usually reaches only 8 to 11 pounds. Under the expert hands of South African volunteer Dr. Tertius Venter, the massive lipoma was removed in a two-hour surgery.
A few days later, resting comfortably on his back in his hospital bed, Jean grinned and said, “My doctor thinks I’m a machine! I am too happy to feel pain. It has been ten years since I could rest on my back.”
Jean is overjoyed with the gift of health he has received from Mercy Ships. “What could I give Mercy Ships in return?” he asks. “What am I to say to God for what He has done for me? This ship goes beyond. This ship is in God’s truth. All I can give is ‘thank you.’”
Now, Jean Bosco – a farmer, a father, and a husband – can return to his family . . . without his terrible burden. His easy smile lights up as he envisions his homecoming. “Imagine your favorite fútbol team has just won the World Cup,” he says, “…that is exactly how my family is celebrating as we speak. There is a very perfect joy that is waiting for me and mine when I get home.”