At the age of 10, while sitting in church during a “pray for the next generation” moment, I became convinced that God was calling me to vocational ministry. It was not anything anyone said, but in the space of mere seconds, I became utterly certain of this call, though I had no real idea what it would look like. Over the next decade, it progressively became clearer to me that God was preparing me for cross-cultural service of some sort. My folks are non-medical, global workers who have served in multiple countries in southeastern Africa, and, although I was primarily raised in Canada, I was constantly exposed to international missions growing up. During this time, I also developed an interest in medicine, training first as a physician assistant, and then (somewhat ironically since I had sworn I was done with school for life) I followed the Father’s leading to return to medical school. I have recently completed my rural family medicine training, and am currently enrolled in a plus one in family practice anesthesia at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.
Throughout my medical training, CMDA Canada and CanMedSend have been instrumental in encouraging and enabling me to explore my interest in international health and medical missions. Due to CanMedSend’s generous support through the CMDA Canada Student Mission Elective Scholarship, and an additional bursary, I was able to complete multiple overseas electives during my training. As a fourth year medical student, I did an emergency medicine rotation at Kijabe Hospital, a 103 year old mission hospital that is actively engaged in training and discipling the next generation of physicians in Kenya. In my first year of family medicine residency I did a rotation at Dreamland Mission Hospital, a small Kenyan-run mission hospital in rural western Kenya. The timing of this rotation was God-ordained as a physician strike in the government hospitals in Kenya put the hospital into crisis, and as inexperienced as I was, an extra doctor was the answer to the hospital’s prayers in that season. In my final year of family medicine training, I then returned to Kijabe Hospital, where I was able to take part, in a small way, in the amazing work of training and discipling that occurs there. During my rotation as a “Junior Attending,” I assisted in teaching and supervising medical students, interns, and clinical officer trainees.
These opportunities have been invaluable to me as a person, God-follower, clinician, and as a future international health worker. As a trainee in the midst of a long road of medical training, these experiences reminded me why I am in medicine, reminded me of the call I received when I was young, and helped me to avoid being distracted by the pursuit of prestige and comfort that so much of our secular North American medical world strives for. It gave me role models – men and women of faith, both expatriate and African – who were faithfully using their training as a means of worship and witness. These experiences gave me the opportunity to sit and dream with my Kenyan peers – trainees that are forming the next generation of African medical leaders – as to how we can together be faithful in our careers, engage in the difficult places, care for the vulnerable, and allow us to see how we can accomplish far more together than we ever could alone. It has reminded me that no matter where I am training or practicing whether internationally or in Canada, amidst the affluent or the vulnerable, I am called to vocational ministry: to worship the Father and give witness to His goodness through the way in which I do my work and the manner in which I interact with my colleagues and patients. I am reminded that this is impossible to do through my own strength.
Throughout my years as a medical trainee, I have been on a slow journey of realizing that my natural tendency is to try to do things in my own strength, to solve problems by working harder, and in doing so to derive a significant portion of my personal identity and worth from how well I perform. And yet, if I want to consistently pour into others, prioritize the vulnerable, maintain right motives, and not burn out, I simply cannot work out of my own strength. I am on a journey of learning to rest in the Father’s love and to take my identity from the reality that I am His. Though He invites me to co-labour with him in this world, He cares far more about my choice to be with Him than any work I might accomplish “for Him.” Both CMDA Canada and CanMedSend have made significant impacts on this journey, and for that I would like to thank all of you who make CMDA Canada’s student ministry and the ministry of CanMedSend possible.
I do not know exactly what the future will hold, or where exactly it will take me. However, the call I received as a child holds true, and I am exploring various opportunities to practice in an international context. I am excited by the opportunity to serve alongside my brothers and sisters in the majority world, to worship and provide witness to the goodness of God through my work while investing personally and professionally in trainees, and to be used in some small way to communicate God’s care to the vulnerable.
You may or may not share my calling to engage in international health, but I would encourage you to consider, wherever you find yourself planted, the ways in which you can worship the Father through your work. Consider the ways that you can provide witness to the goodness of God in how you practice medicine. Think about the type of role modeling and the personal impact you are having on your trainees. Consider whether there is a population in your world that God would be asking you to strategically be present with. Take the time to reflect on why you do what you do; be honest with yourself about what motivates you and where you find your value. Bring all of these things to the Father and say, “Here I am, send me.”