Unfortunately I did not speak a lot of Spanish……

 

Serving as a Christian physician in Africa was never on my list of things to be or do when I was growing up, however it is amazing to look back and see how God has been preparing me over the last 10+ years.  When I entered undergraduate school at Abilene Christian University, I really was not sure what I wanted to be.  I knew that I liked science and enjoyed talking to people, but I was not sure if I really wanted to go to school for 8 years to become a doctor.  During that year, I was searching for how God was going to use me to serve in whatever I ended up choosing.  I started to fall in love with serving others during my freshmen year with a group called the Service Action Leadership team.  As a group, we served and led other students in various service projects throughout Abilene.  Jesus really showed me how to better love, listen, and serve others and really gave me a passion for serving the underserved in the community of Abilene. 
Later that spring, God gave me an opportunity to go with a group of pre-health majors to Guatemala for a week during spring break to serve in medical, dental, and surgical clinics.  I was a little hesitant at first because I had not traveled very much growing up and definitely had not been out of the country.  I also had never been on any type of mission trip either so I did not know what to expect.  As we began preparing for our trip, I met a very influential person who God has used in my life, Dr. Rector.   At the time, he was our campus physician and was leading our team to Guatemala.  However, he had also lived in Guatemala as a physician, and it was amazing to be able to hear his stories and for him to share his heart as our team prepared.  He always encouraged me to keep my mind and heart open and that God would use me to serve others in His kingdom.  God opened my eyes that week in Guatemala and placed in my heart a passion for serving as a doctor in a very underserved area. 
Medicine had always interested me and I began to feel like God was telling me that this was one way that He could use me to serve and minister to people. He introduced me to so many who were broken, hurting, and had lost hope.   I began to read more about Jesus and how His ministry involved talking care of the whole person and how He loved them regardless of where they had come from or what they believed.  I began to think more about the mind, body, and spirit and how as a Christian doctor, I could integrate medicine, prayer, and Christ’s power to heal and forgive in order to touch others.  In Guatemala, I was also able to see how churches and church leaders could work with doctors and community health promoters to improve the spiritual and physical health of the communities.  

While God showed me all of these things that week, I still did not know if I wanted to commit my life to serve in a hot, uncomfortable, sometimes smelly place like Guatemala.  I really missed things like Dr. Pepper and ESPN.   However, my next semester, I was introduced to a six-week summer program in Guatemala for pre-health students called the Medical Evangelism Training (MET) Program, which is organized by Health Talents International.  I felt like God was calling me to go so I applied and was chosen as one of the twelve students.  During the time in Guatemala, we were taught by missionaries and health care workers about language, culture, missions and healthcare in developing countries. We each lived with a family in a rural village and unfortunately I did not speak a lot of Spanish at the time.  This led to a lot of laughter throughout the month as well as some awkward silence.   This longer experience showed me how important it is to be able to minister cross-culturally and how important it is to learn the language of the people that I am serving.  During that month, I also worked with Dr. Lisa Dunham, a Christian doctor serving with Health Talents. We talked a lot about the importance of culture and becoming a part of the community and how this is so important in reaching out to serve and touch the lives of others in the community.  After my six-weeks in Guatemala, I knew that God was calling me to serve long-term so that I could minister cross-culturally, learn the language, and really focus on serving and improving the whole community both physically and spiritually. 

Then, that year, God also put a wonderful, beautiful woman in my life that also had an interest for medical missions.  Both of our interests for medical missions continued, and the next summer Jenny and I went with a group from ACU to serve the people of Indonesia after the tsunami.  We got married between graduating at ACU and starting medical school together.   Two weeks after we were married, we went to Africa and spent six weeks in Uganda and Zambia working with a Christian doctor, Dr. Ellen Little. 

During those six weeks, God continued to affirm His calling on our lives to serve in medical missions, but He also showed us that one day He would send us to serve in Africa.  Throughout medical school and residency we have been praying and have been open to where God is calling us.  We are thankful and blessed that God has called us to Malawi.  We look forward to using the gifts that He has given us to love and serve the beautiful hearts of the people of Malawi.      

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