As a six-year-old, I heard my parents describe how God was calling our family into full-time missions. Two years later I experienced this transition when we moved to a cross-cultural area in Hawaii where my parents were missionaries and then later to Mexico. At that point in my life, I had already seen my older sister and her husband head to Poland to be missionaries, and a few years later another sister joined them; later my oldest brother and his wife and family went to Russia as missionaries. I was committed to following Jesus, and some of my experiences such as the one in Mexico described above cemented this commitment. I was also no stranger to missions with all this exposure, but by the time I entered college, I had not seriously considered that God might want me to be a missionary.
I went to a Christian college, and toward the beginning of my time, there was a Missions Emphasis week, with missionaries on campus speaking in chapel and spending time with students. At some point that week it dawned on me like a great realization: God wants to reach the whole world, and he is using people to do it, and he wants me to go. I had read and heard messages many times about the great commission, but finally I saw that Jesus wanted me to go. And I said, "Yes!" to his call.
At the time I was studying in a pre-med track and recognized that God could use me as a missionary in medicine. As I prayed I felt God wanted me to continue my education in medicine. When I started medical school I became involved in the local student chapter of the CMDA. There I was able to connect with Christian physicians, some of whom were missionaries. I listened to their stories and asked them questions about their experiences and their lives. A few things became clear to me. Jesus called us to make disciples, and for me to do so effectively I would need to spend time with people. Medicine could be part of this but I would need to spend time with people outside of the medical environment as well. In addition, I understood that my call was for long long-term missions: moving into an area, becoming part of the community, and spending the years it can take to build trust and show people Jesus and see the community transformed. My pastor at the time was very encouraging of my call to missions and I watched him and his family eventually head to the mission field in South America. Finally, I felt a pull to go where few are already telling people about Jesus, and Romans 10:13-14 makes that pull all the more urgent.
I met Mandy during medical school and one of the first things we each made sure of in the other was the shared call to long-term missions. Her background as a missionary kid and my own life course have uniquely prepared us, and our hearts are set on being ones ready to go to the ends of the earth with Jesus to proclaim his good news. One day I will see the nations of the world bowing before Jesus, and I want to see the people of South Asia doing it in joy as his followers.
During my years at Michigan State, I saw medicine divorced from spirituality. What drew me to Valley Baptist Family Practice Residency was the obvious marriage of medicine and evangelism. During my years there, prayer with patients was modeled and encouraged, devotional times as a staff was a regular practice, and ministry was happening on every level of the program. I have continued what I learned there in my own practice as a doctor, spending intentional time listening to patients, praying with them, and sharing Jesus' love in my actions as well as my words. The hospital staff I work with all know I follow Jesus. I am a doctor and a Christian, and I live out both of these identities together day to day. I plan to continue this on the mission field. I intend to intentionally create space in my schedule to pursue evangelism and discipleship with people from our local community, many of which will hopefully be my patients and their families.
1. Local people who did not know Jesus before (and who would never have encountered him otherwise) will see him in me as we interact, hear him when I talk, know about him when I share, give their lives to him, and lead others to him.
2. People who otherwise would have little to no access to medicine will have their needs met and know they are valuable, receiving the best care I can give them. This care, in turn, will make a real impact on their lives and that of their families and will point them back to Jesus.
3. The local church will be strengthened and thrive as we invest in local Christians through discipleship and leadership.