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Equipping the Body of Christ

Equipping the Body of Christ

OCTOBER 5, 2020    |    3 MINUTE READ

The Global Missions Health Conference (GMHC) is quickly approaching, an event we at WGM look forward to every year. Here, at the largest gathering of mission healthcare professionals in the world, we get the chance to meet people who are passionate about medical missions and help them find what God might be calling them to. As GMHC prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary, surgeon Andrea Parker reflects on the impact this conference has had on her calling.

A large conference room with people visiting mission booths

Global Missions Health Conference venue

I was a fourth-year medical student when I had my first opportunity to attend the Global Missions Health Conference. I had gone to medical school knowing that I wanted to use medicine as a means of caring for the least of these and showing the love of Jesus, but I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant. A group of us, all from the same Bible study and the same medical school, and all knowing we wanted to serve Jesus through medicine in some way, attended together. It was a transformational time where I began to see the many ways that God was already at work throughout the world and the possibilities of how I could join in that work.

One of my very best friends from medical school, Angie, was with me on that trip. We were both planning on pursuing surgery and knew we wanted to be involved in missions. We couldn’t believe how fortunate we were to meet a surgeon at the conference whom we both admired and who was already incredibly involved in missions. He took time to sit and talk with us and pray over each of us that God would guide and direct our lives as we sought to serve Him through surgery. Angie and I dreamed of one day working together in missions, not entirely sure what that might look like.

Angie and I each went on to surgical residency. Through further experiences, including attending GMHC several more times, God shaped His calling of us and how we could each fulfill it. Upon my completion of surgical residency, my husband, also a general surgeon, and I, along with our daughter, moved to work at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya, where we help to provide care for patients with surgical conditions and work with surgical trainees from Kenya and throughout sub-Saharan Africa, training and discipling them in surgery and their faith. Angie went on to train in vascular surgery, completing that fellowship three years later.

Andrea and Bob Parker talk with a visitor at the WGM booth at the conference.

Andrea and her husband, Bob, talk with a visitor at the WGM booth.

About a year ago, the dream that we had dreamed together was realized. Angie and her family were able to come and join us at Tenwek for a short-term trip to provide specialized vascular surgical care and training for our residents. As we so often see, God in His sovereignty brought patients at just the time when we could provide for their care. And, He gave us the incredible opportunity to work together in surgery and training.

One special case was AJ, a twenty-nine-year old man, with a wife and eight-month old daughter, who was admitted with what initially was thought to be an infected fluid collection in the muscles of his back and hip. He had been worked up for nine months at other hospitals for what was thought to be a back problem, and when he was admitted to Tenwek, he was unable to walk or extend his leg due to the pain. We quickly realized his real problem was an aneurysm, or ballooning of the wall, of his aorta, a large blood vessel. We also realized that it was an aneurysm likely caused by infection and would require a very complicated surgical procedure. Angie, Fridah, one of our surgical trainees, and I, were able to repair the aneurysm, which turned out to be caused by tuberculosis. AJ was able to leave the hospital one week after his operation. He continues to visit not due to a medical need, as he is fully recovered, but because he wants to continue to visit those who cared for him. He continues to give glory to God for what was truly a remarkable recovery. He is now able to continue to work, to be a husband and a father, and to serve God with his life.

God uses us in so many ways to advance His kingdom and show the love of Jesus through healing. A long-term missionary surgeon, a short-term surgical specialist, and a surgical trainee all used by God to show His love to His child. That is the body of Christ. And the special role that the GMHC has in equipping the body of Christ in healthcare missions is incredible.

Two photos, one of three doctors performing surgery and one of the doctors with their patient while he’s being discharged from the hospital.

Left: Angie (left), Andrea (center), and Fridah (right) operate on AJ; Right: Angie (left) and Andrea (right) with AJ (center) at his discharge from the hospital.


PRAY: Lift up the healthcare workers and students who are attending the conference. Pray that they will find their next steps in living out their calling in medical missions.

GO: Are you interested in attending GMHC and seeing what kinds of opportunities might be available for you to serve others through medicine? Learn more about the conference, which will be held virtually this year, and consider registering. If you attend, be sure to check out WGM’s virtual booth!

Author Bio: Dr. Andrea Parker and her husband, Bob, both serve as surgeons at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya. For them, medical missions is an opportunity to reach out to others with the healing love of Jesus.

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