Doctor and Family Follow Christ’s Call to Serve in Kenya

Pediatric surgeon Dr John Fitzwater, travelling alongside his wife and children, serves as a short-term volunteer at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya

BOMET, KENYA — Pediatric surgeon Dr John Fitzwater, travelling alongside his wife and children, serves as a short-term volunteer at Tenwek Hospital through World Medical Mission. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals support and strengthen the work of Samaritan’s Purse partner hospitals around the world.

Russ White, MDChief of Surgery, Tenwek Hospital:

Just last week, I saw our pediatrician and I met with him, and he was burning out. He’s one of two, which means he’s on call every other night and every other weekend. Pediatric service can be a difficult one because in our setting here in Africa, we have a fair number of deaths that occur.

In the United States, your average pediatrician doesn’t have many patients die. He was averaging four deaths per week. He was struggling. He was really struggling. He was begging and pleading with God for help.

That help could come in the form of a World Medical Mission volunteer who would be willing to come and work with him, and take the load off of him.

Nathaniel Peterson, MD ENT Surgeon, Kijabe Hospital:

Often, long-term physicians are really worked to the max. Just having an extra set of hands, somebody who’s willing to come in and help offload some of that work, can be a nice relief for even one to three weeks.

Elena Roumaya, MDPost-Resident Physician:

Even our Kenyan colleagues love when we have our short-term visitors come because it’s just like, “Oh, this is awesome. They’re this specialist, or this specialist, and they bring other ideas”, and it just brightens our whole community as a whole.

John Fitzwater, MDPediatric Surgeon:

My name is Dr. John Fitzwater. I’ve been doing mission work short-term for 17 years. I’m a pediatric surgeon in the United States and get the privilege of doing the same here in Kenya.

I have always come here with my family, and I’m very blessed that they’re here with me.

Krista Fitzwater Wife of John Fitzwater:

We have always placed missions as an importance in our family, and we hope we’ve modeled that. We homeschool so we can do mission work, so we’re available. So they feel just as at home here as they do in the US, and they just look forward to coming each time.


The first time you come for two weeks, you’re just learning the system, then your time is over. But when you come back the next time, you’re so much more effective; and the next time, even more effective. Pick a site that God is tugging at your heart, and be there. Show up for them every year.


World Medical Mission does an excellent job in steering their volunteers toward fields where they will be used. Every Allied Health professional is needed in an environment like this.

Robert Groom Perfusionist, Tenwek Hospital:

Over a 10-year period, I’ve made about 20 trips with World Medical Mission with various heart surgery teams. The first time you come on a trip, you’re thinking about what you’re going to do, how you’re going to help. Soon after that, I think, you realize that the more important thing is teaching and mentoring.

That, to me, that’s the real prize. If we can come here and we can teach others to do this work, then it can be sustainable.


Now the workload is heavier. The acuity, the sickness of the patients, is more severe, so we need more volunteers more than we ever have.


We all have a role to play in the work of the Church, and we’ve all been given some abilities to do that with.


Your life will be changed. I can say, after having countless conversations with many of our short-term volunteers, it will change more than you would ever expect it to.

Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet the needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Samaritan’s Purse International Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) program is committed to meeting the critical needs of victims of war, poverty, famine, disease, and natural disaster. We stand ready to respond at a moment’s notice whenever and wherever disaster strikes. The DART specializes in providing water, food, shelter, and medical care while sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

CONTACT: Gabrielle Bouquet,

Read more news on Non Profit Organizations, Humanitarian Services, and Medical Ministry.


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