About Support – A Letter Shared

This is an edited copy of an email I sent to a friend asking for details about our financial support. I thought it might be helpful to anyone who wonders about what we do and how we are paid.

I want you to know that I am thankful for you and your support. But I also understand that we all have our criteria for what we decide to give to in regards to charity, so I will not take any offense if you decide you need to move your money elsewhere. I am honored that you were willing to support us just out of caring for us, not dependent on what we were doing. That is very kind, and thank you.

We have several roles in Africa. The first thing we are doing is medical work. I am working at Kijabe Mission Hospital full time. My role there is two-fold. I have a major teaching responsibility which is probably the most important thing I do. All of us that are volunteers at the hospital are very involved in training Kenyan and other African doctors toward in good medical care as well as professionalism so that they can take those skills to other parts of the country and continent. In this task we are joined by the employed Kenyan physicians who work at the hospital. We have residencies in Family Medicine, Surgery, and Orthopedic Surgery currently. We also teach Medical Officers which are the most common type of physician you will find in Kenya. They come to our hospital for one year after finishing medical school to receive more training before going out to be physicians in many rural areas. All of that is within a Christian context that includes Christian mentoring and discipleship. My second responsibility is simply providing good medical care within the teaching context. We are a mission hospital, so we have poor people coming from all over eastern Africa to receive good and cheap care in our hospital. We provide many services that they would not be able to receive elsewhere. When it comes to patient care, I split my time between obstetrics, emergency medicine, and the clinic. Serving the poor has always been a big motivator for me.

The next area of focus is at Rift Valley Academy. RVA is a boarding school for missionary kids. We have youth from many African countries in the student body, and most of those kids are coming from areas in which education on the mission field is impossible. Allison teaches full-time at the school, this year in 9th grade English, and next year she will be an Spanish AP (maybe), Spanish 4, and Spanish3 teacher. So that mission is a supportive role for the work of evangelism that is going on in the hardest places of Africa. Those families trust their kids with us so that they can keep working in the areas that they feel God has called them to serve. I think it would be impossible for me to do the same, but I am glad we can support them in this way. Allison is really enjoying working there. And we consider these students as part of our ministry as well.

The third role we have is as East Africa Team Leaders for the Christian Health Service Corps. We have missionaries in several countries in East Africa, some of those countries are open, others are closed. My role with Allison is to do our best to be a support to them. Most recently we had a organizational meeting in Greece associated with a big medical education conference which we attended. That is a role we are still growing into, and it will probably become a bigger part of what I do in the future. It is challenging as we have already had to work through several issues that have been difficult. As I said, we are learning a lot as we go along.

Your financial support basically goes to pay our salary in those jobs. If I go to any conferences that are work related, I can draw upon our donations. If I have to make a purchase that is work related I can draw on those donations as well. Otherwise I receive a monthly stipend, and I budget my living expenses to include housing, groceries, gas, movies, bills, vacation, etc. out of that salary. I support myself some by doing online consultations, but that does not come close to paying for everything. I would have to do it as a full-time job to pay my salary. But it helps me feel OK about sometimes doing a little bit extra for the family when we go on trips. For example, when we came back from the conference in Greece, we stayed three days in Dubai. I used our vacation fund for that part of the trip which includes some of my consulting income. In that way I try and keep our accounts for personal and ministry use clean and separate.

Again, the organization we are under is called the Christian Health Service Corps. It is specifically focused on medical missions. They receive a 10 percent overhead for their services toward us. They are sending doctors and other types of medical workers all over the world. They also have medical training conferences in the United States, and they are involved in mission support to include building projects in different mission hospital.

So I hope that is not too much information. Thanks for asking. I may copy and post this email with some editing to our blog in case other people have some similar questions. Let me know if there is more I can tell you to be more clear.

Being Called

“A calling is sturdy. I don’t have to protect it. I don’t need to be afraid of not getting every step right. Obviously, we need to be faithful to what’s revealed in Scripture, but we need to trust the Holy Spirit. If a calling is from God, it’s not up to us to make it happen.” – Tish Harrison. Why Tish Harrison Gave Up on Being a ‘Good Church Kid’. Christianity Today.

There are things that are hard to explain. I find it hard to explain why we are going to Africa when there is a large part of me that does not want to go. I look at my friends and my family and I think to myself “They have got it right. Stay home in your own culture and make a difference where you are from.” I look at jobs in the US in great places to live, and I think “It would be so cool to live there!” I see that my kids are happy in the United States, and I wonder “Why am I making my kids move again?” But when I think about staying I cannot feel settled. Something here will seem so perfect, but it will not seem right. I was talking to my friend Matt about it, barely expressing something I cannot understand in myself. I wondered aloud to him that I see people’s lives and I think they are great and meaningful and worthy of respect. And I wonder why I cannot have that life which I think is possibly a better use of my own personality and gifts. Why can I not stay, when I want to stay? Matt answered simply “It’s because you are called. You have a calling.” I knew he was right; but I want my calling to be an intense desire to do something. At times it is. Sometimes I feel the fire in my belly to go. But much of the time it is an unsettled feeling that I cannot do anything else except keep moving in the direction God has pointed us. And I think it is alright. I do not see in the history of the Bible that every person called by God was skipping in eagerness to the work set before them. In fact, many (most?) times it is the opposite. But they did not stop because they knew the truth of what God had called them to do. And I know it too. God has called me to serve the poor and the hurting through medicine. He has called me to share the gospel through compassion. And I go despite myself, eyes wide open, praying for God to give me strength to do the work he has given me to do. Please pray for us to be faithful and to live up to the calling we have received.

A Reminder

Just a reminder that these upcoming two weekends and again toward the end of May we will be having a few reunions to say “Hello” and “Thank you”. They will all be come and go as you please. We just want to see you! We can talk about what has been going on in Peru, and we can explain what we will be doing in Kenya. Here are the dates and information.

Date:  April 30 from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM
Location:  The home of Ruth Caire, 1224 Cloverdale Drive, Richardson, TX 75080

Date:  May 6 from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM
Location: The home of Matt and Michelle Murphy, 278 English Oaks Circle, Boerne, TX 78006

Date:  May 21 from  3:30 PM to 5:30 PM
Location:  The home of David and Carol Smith, 5914 Bent Trail, Dallas, TX 75248

We hope to see you at one of these events!

Let’s Get Together

We want to see you! And to that purpose we are going to have a few reunions in the coming months. Look at the following dates, and please feel free to attend any of them. They will all be come and go as you please. We just want to see you! We can talk about what has been going on in Peru, and we can explain what we will be doing in Kenya. Here are the dates and information.

Date:  April 30 from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM
Location:  The home of Ruth Caire, 1224 Cloverdale Drive, Richardson, TX 75080

Date:  May 6
Location: Boerne, TX (we still have some details to work out on this one)

Date:  May 21 from  3:30 PM to 5:30 PM
Location:  The home of David and Carol Smith, 5914 Bent Trail, Dallas, TX 75248

We hope to see you at one of these events!

Way to go Greg

The director of our mission agency Greg Seager was recently honored by the Institute for International Medicine as the Cross Cultural Leadership Award recipient. Here is their brief summary.

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Greg Seager, RN MSN, and his wife, Candi, first became involved in cross-cultural healthcare when invited by their home church. Moving up quickly in leadership, they were soon overseeing six to eight medical teams to Haiti each year. Later they became full-time staff with Mercy Ships, where part of Greg’s role involved Implementing Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) protocols, and program evaluation. Greg’s critique of international healthcare is best embodied in his book, When Healthcare Hurts: An Evidence Based Guide for Best Practices in Global Health Initiatives. In 2010, Greg and Candi launched a new healthcare sending organization to embody these innovations. Christian Health Service Corps today empowers fifty full-time personnel serving in fifteen developing nations.