Dan, Heather, Jeremiah, Tory, Emma, Tye, Claire, Levi, Josie, Jane and Ethan

Friday, May 22, 2009

Holistic Ministry: Long term at Tenwek

Gently used lead aprons recently donated to the orthopedic department.

Chronically dislocated ankle...a challenge to reduce.

Dr. Kisorio and Josh Carter, performing a tibial SIGN nail.

Jeremiah's favorite Jackson's Chameleon appropriately named Feisty.

Prior to medical school, Heather and I spent two years in the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, where I attended Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. While I started with the idea that I would pursue a degree which would prepare me to be a pastor, the end result was far from expected. Through a series of sovereign events, including Heather landing a sweet job in the Missions Department, God resurrected a past dream I thought was long dead (medicine) and combined it with a present calling (missions) to provide a new hybrid vision: Medical Missions. As a culmination of the education at Trinity, I was required to write a final integration paper which I entitled “Holistic Ministry and Medical Missions.” The main premise was that ministry which was most effective was not only “incarnational” but also “holistic” in nature, that is, meeting the needs of the whole person: physical, emotional, cultural, and especially spiritual. Medicine provides a unique opportunity to minister to the physical needs of people, especially the poor, as Jesus has great compassion on, and healed, the sick and needy. But his message never stopped there, the healing serving as a segue to the true need of all people: spiritual healing.

The patients who come to Tenwek for orthopedic care are varied: male, female, young, old…some with acute injuries, others with chronic…some with injuries secondary to foolish decisions, others injured by no fault of their own. The common denominator however, regardless of the etiology, is a need for physical help, which Tenwek is thankfully equipped orthopedically to provide. Thus, our days are spent fixing what is physically broken, using plates, screws, rods, pins, saws, cement, etc. I would not say, however, that this is our primary reason for existence at Tenwek. Although the fixing of broken bodies is of inherent value, if the spiritual needs of the patients are not being addressed, then all we do is merely humanitarian in nature. Rather, we have the opportunity, and responsibility, and privilege to ask patients if they know Jesus, if we can pray for them, or meet their spiritual needs in some other way.

Being at Tenwek provides the opportunity for wide variety of ministry opportunities, and allows us as a family to fulfill the calling of holistic, incarnational ministry. While our work is primarily medical, we are also able to communicate the gospel, teach, preach, lead worship, disciple, and minister to the needs of the poor. I had mentioned a few blogs back that we were praying about God’s plan for our family long term at Tenwek. While the last six months have been full of many challenges, both Heather and I feel that we are to remain and continue at Tenwek beyond the two-year commitment with Samaritan’s Purse. Committing to stay long term presents us with many other new challenges (transitioning to a new mission agency, building a house, etc.) for which we would greatly appreciate your prayers. But, we feel that God has sovereignly and very clearly opened the door for us to be here at this point and time, and we have the responsibility to stay until it is just as clear that we are to be elsewhere. At Trinity, we made the commitment to pursue medical missions full-time as long as God directs, and as he continues, so we will remain. Thank you for all your encouragement and support over the last several months. We appreciate you so much!!

1 comment:

Tater & Haley said...

I have found your blog and am completely inspired. I have always wanted to do some medical missionary work in Africa. I'm not sure why I have felt like going to Africa but for the longest time I have felt a calling for Africa. I was wondering if there is ever a need for a Family Nurse Practitioner at Tenwek. I work in an emergency department as an FNP. Thanks so much for all that you are doing, you (and the entire family) are such an inspiration.

David Kieser