Dr. Catherine Hamlin: An excellent life

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Dr. Catherine Hamlin(Photo: Lucy Horodny / AusAID)

In all of the media riots surrounding COVID-19, you may have the death of 96-year-old Dr. Missed Catherine Hamlin.

Dr. Hamlin's gynecological work on treating Ethiopian women with birth fistula was so remarkable that even the Sydney Morning Herald called her "the saint of Addis Ababa".

Julie White, Chair of the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation, told the SMH: "Catherine has lived an incredible life that has changed the lives and health of thousands and thousands of women in Ethiopia. Her passionate commitment to women and the health of Through them, mothers' trust and belief in doing God's work with love and devotion to others is something we are all in awe of. "

What makes a doctor – and her late husband Reg – commit their lives to help over 60,000 women the world would rather forget?

Well, as even the SMH recognizes, it was simply their Christian faith. Dr. Robert Tong AM, Chairman of Hamlin Fistula Australia, said: "Dr. Catherine Hamlin's use of her medical skills to alleviate the suffering of those who are least able to help themselves, and her firm silent trust in God's overarching blessings and Care is seen in the establishment of the Addis Abba Fistula Hospital. Truly an outstanding example of Christian compassion in action. "

Dr. Hamlin was a pious Evangelical Anglican who was originally associated with the Sydney Diocese. And, according to Russell Powell, Sydney Anglicans' media consultant: "The couple were inspired by a scripture verse from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, verse 40, whatever you did for one of the least of my brothers, they did for me & The verse is under Dr. Reg Hamlin's photo hanging in the hospital. "

Powell goes on to describe how Hamlin's best-selling autobiography, The Hospital by the River: A History of Hope, reconciled the question of suffering with the existence of God. She wrote:

I was sometimes asked if these tragic cases would ever test my faith. I can truly say that my faith, if any, has been strengthened and my soul has been more firmly anchored in Jesus than the only one we can turn to. Jesus never promised us a smooth or smooth life path. He promised to be with us to share the sadness and pain …

The joy I get from working for these patients is something I thank God for every day. This was my experience and I know that Reg felt it too. I am sure that Reg and I were brought here. I didn't know at the time, but in the end this is where we should be. It didn't really affect my belief. If anything, it has strengthened my belief in knowing that we are doing something that is in His will, and the wonderful thing is that it is so pleasant.

While the world is facing a tough test with Covid-19, Dr. Hamlin's words and life example provide timely inspiration for all of us – that it is more blessed to give than to receive, and that in the midst of suffering there is faith, hope and love.

All in all, Dr. Catherine Hamlin is a wonderful example of what it means to serve Christ faithfully (Mt 25:23). And as we mourn and mourn her death, we know that this too is precious in the eyes of the Lord (Psalm 116: 15).

Mark Powell is pastor of the Cornerstone Presbyterian Community Church in Eastwood, Australia.

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