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New member, Caroline Bell, is preparing to serve long term in Africa. Here, she shares about her interest in mission and how short term service confirmed her calling.
From a very young age I was interested in mission, particularly in Africa. I studied medicine at university as I wanted a skill that I could use to serve a community in the future. I also wanted to be able to respond to the very real medical needs which often go unmet in so many parts of Africa. During my time at university I was able to participate in short term mission trips to Kenya and South Africa, and in particular I did a medical elective in a church hospital in north west Kenya. Serving in this way really solidified my desire to be involved in mission in the future.
“I felt a deep conviction that the primary focus on any work I was to do in the future should be on sharing Jesus…”
Remaining in Jesus
After university, I worked for a few years in the NHS, but before too long I became aware of the subtle attraction of settling down in England, getting on with the career mapped out before me and letting mission take a back seat. So, after four years of work, I went to Adi in the Democratic Republic of Congo for six months with AIM. There I worked alongside the local hospital and Annemarie Boks. I learnt so much during those six months, both about myself and also about God’s transforming power. The following verse spoke particularly to me at this time: “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4).
Medicine in Africa
My background is in general medicine in the UK. When considering living in Adi and working at the hospital I knew that there would be big differences between the resources, medical conditions and even the medical culture in DRC. But what did that mean? What is it like to watch a patient die, knowing that in the UK their outlook could be so different? My time in Adi opened my eyes to these issues and many more. Looking harder, I saw how the hospital staff sought to provide patients with the best possible care. Meet Doctor Claude, Medical Director:
Why did you decide to become a doctor?
I decided to become a doctor because from my childhood I have enjoyed looking after people. In our community there was no good healthcare, the sick were transferred very far, often encountering difficulties during transportation. I thought to myself, can’t I become a doctor and look after people?
What is the hardest thing about your job?
In my job I experience difficulty with diagnostic means because we lack lots of equipment. Also general medicine is very broad, and what we do is superficial.
How does your Christian faith influence your job?
We are an evangelical hospital. I see our work as continuing the ministry of Jesus Christ, to have compassion for all the sick without distinction.
During my time in Adi I wrestled with what God would have me do in the future; was this primarily something medical? Where did proclamation of the gospel and discipleship fit in? I felt a deep conviction that the primary focus on any work I was to do in the future should be on sharing Jesus and his transforming power. Medicine was a gift I could use in doing this, but not a goal in itself. So I am now at All Nations Christian College preparing for whatever work God calls me to in the future.
To those who are considering overseas mission in the future, or those of you who know others who are, I would encourage you to get involved. Why not sign up for a short term trip? In my experience it teaches you a lot about God, yourself and others. Being taken out of your comfort zone helps you to recognise those things you rely on aside from God.