This year marks 25 years of marriage for Heather and I, and during our engagement in the mid-1990s (imagine me in a pair of cutoff jean shorts, and Heather in her sweet Laura Ashley dress) we could never have imagined the adventure that God had in store for us. In 25 years, we have moved more than 20 times (often with many kids in tow), living in places as populated as Chicago and remote as Bomet, Kenya. And in every place, the constant has been God’s faithfulness, mercy and grace for two broken people.
Shortly after we were married, we sensed it was time for a change, and we entered a new season of life at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where I started seminary and Heather (newly pregnant with our now 22-year-old beast of a son Jeremiah) worked in the missions department as the secretary for great missiologists such as Paul Hiebert and Robert Coleman. Certain of my calling to ministry, but unable to shake the idea of going to medical school, God merged the two into a new vision: medical missions. The concept of “incarnational ministry” (that is, doing life with the people we are called to serve) so moved us that we promised God that if He would open the doors for us to live this type of life, we would stay long-term, full time, until He directed otherwise.
Fast forward 10 years, to the end of my orthopaedic surgical training in 2008, uncertain of how or where to fulfill this vision, we received an email about the need for an orthopaedic surgeon at Tenwek Hospital, and through a series of miraculous events, moved our family of 4 kids to Kenya for one amazing, wild, epic adventure.
More than we could ever have imagined happened during our 10+ years in Kenya: the addition of 3 more children to our family, the start of PAACS orthopaedic training at Tenwek, the unexpected but fruitful transition to Kijabe Hospital, the expansion of PAACS orthopaedics to Kijabe and Ethiopia, the miraculous provision to get board-certified while working overseas, the graduation of three of our oldest kids from Rift Valley Academy, and during the past three years, significant spiritual growth through a renovated prayer life.
Shortly after our transition to Kijabe in 2016, we began to sense another new season was imminent, as the work at Tenwek was going on well without me (despite many ups and downs), and Kijabe, with its strong core of talented national surgeons, was equipped to continue the PAACS mission well into the future. As such, we began to pray for God’s direction and asked many of you join with us. After many years, God has answered and confirmed that our long-term, full-time work physically in Kenya is finished for now, but the global work of teaching, training and discipling national surgeons via PAACS isn’t.
As part of this direction, God has provided the opportunity for me to join another surgeon in Phoenix named Shane Martin in a private total joints practice. Shane has been on short term missions’ trips to both Kenya and Tanzania and our mutual goal for the future is to steward our skills and resources to advance God’s kingdom through orthopaedic surgery. Heather and Shane’s wife Erin are partnering with us too as they meet weekly to pray.
The most amazing part of this new season is that I will remain with WGM as a U.S. based “global worker” as the PAACS Orthopaedics Program Administrator, providing direction, encouragement, recruitment and financial support for the (currently) three PAACS ortho sites and its more than 20 residents. This role will also include 1-2 trips to Africa annually for 1-2 weeks at a time. Heather will officially retire from WGM at the end of January to focus her ministry efforts primarily on our family.
Many of you have financially supported our family, the work at Tenwek and Kijabe, and the PAACS ortho residency programs over the years, and for this, we are eternally grateful. Through your faithfulness, God has enabled the healing of many patients, both physically and spiritually. All funds remaining in our Galat Ministry Account with WGM, and any funds given in the future, will be dedicated to the training of PAACS Orthopaedics national residents. The budget to train one resident for their entire 5-year program is approximately 125K USD! This is a huge task, but God is able to provide!
Although we are confident, excited and hopeful for this new season of life and ministry, we are also very sad to leave our life in Kenya on many levels, especially our dear friends and colleagues. But we know that God has ordained this new season, and what He has started, He will finish in a way that is beyond our ability to comprehend (Eph. 3:20).
Thanks for all your love and support!
Ecclesiastes 3:1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under Heaven.