KAPSOWAR, KENYA — In a remote part of eastern Africa, American missionary doctors and African medical professionals bring compassionate care to some of the area’s neediest people. It’s led one American family to dedicate the rest of their lives to serving on the continent. George Thomas of CBN News reports from Kenya.
I traveled some 7,300 miles to this remote outpost in north west Kenya to find out why a group of African medical professionals, working with American missionary doctors would choose a life of selfless service to bring desperately needed medical care to one of the poorest regions of this country. I discovered why in fairly short order.
Dr. Patricia Chesang – AIC Kapsowar Mission Hospital:
“Everything you do, you do it as unto the Lord, for God’s glory.”
That, plus a deep desire to demonstrate the saving and healing ministry of Christ to this community.
Dr. Bill Rhodes – American Missionary Doctor:
“We feel very, very fortunate to be able to do what we do; there’s nothing else we would rather do.”
Americans Bill and Laura Rhodes moved to this corner of Kenya to work at Kapsowar mission hospital. Located near the Ugandan border, the 140-bed christian hospital opened its doors back in 1963.
George Thomas – Kapsowar, Kenya:
“When Bill and Laura Rhodes moved to this part of northwestern Kenya some 23 years ago, getting up to the mission hospital was [interrupted by cows crossing] I guess we’ll have to wait for the cows to pass the road. There we go. Getting up to the mission hospital was no easy task. Why? Because you had to traverse roads like this, I mean dirt path.”
Dr. Bill Rhodes:
“It was not like it is now. It was so much more rustic and rural and isolated and difficult to reach.”
Rhodes, who had no medical background, was pursuing a master’s degree in biblical Hebrew in Jerusalem when he and his wife picked up two Christian medical students hitchhiking through Israel.
Laura Rhodes – Missionary to Kenya:
“…and Bill said, ‘Why as believers do you want to practice medicine?’ And the answer of one of those young medical students, whom we have never seen since, never even knew his name, changed the trajectory of our lives.”
Dr. Bill Rhodes:
“He said, ‘I would just like to see if I couldn’t alleviate a little bit of suffering in some small corner of the world someday in the name of Jesus.”
That set Rhodes on a 16-year odyssey, with numerous setbacks, in preparation for a surgical career that would change the lives on the African continent.
“You failed to get into med school three times. Did it not dawn on Bill Rhodes that maybe I should try something different? I mean, maybe plumbing, or architecture, maybe be a lawyer?”
Dr. Bill Rhodes:
“Just because you decide to do something that you think will honor God or be pleasing to God or be helpful for moving the Kingdom of God forward, doesn’t mean that you have a guarantee easy path to get there. In fact, you should probably buckle-up tight, because it’s probably going to be challenging.”
“When Bill and Laura moved here to Kenya in January of 1999, some 23 years ago, they knew without a shadow of doubt that this was a lifetime commitment to serve the people of this country. But more importantly, to come to a region of the nation that had some tremendous needs. And today, Bill, his team, his wife are all committed to serve the people of Kapsowar and beyond.”
“When we see the staggering disparity in this world of the people who have and those on the other end who have not, the disparity is only growing wider and for all of our days, however many we have, we want to try and bring healing and wholeness.”
“In recent years, Dr. Rhodes’ vision to bring medical care has gone beyond the valleys that surround Kapsowar to include other countries. So for example, he, along with his wife and members of the mission hospital, often travel to countries like Liberia, Chad and South Sudan.”
Accompanying him is Kenyan Thomas Kiptoo, who heads up Kapsowar’s anesthetist department. Kiptoo came from a very poor family and a missionary doctor acting as a mentor urged him to pursue the medical field.
Dr. Thomas Kiptoo – AIC Kapsowar Mission Hospital:
“I couldn’t imagine that I could come all the way to this position. Looking back, I never had a future but since I believed in God and I’m a produce of a missionary, this is why I’ve become what I am.”
Dr. Rhodes’ passion is to train and equip the next generation of African health professionals.
36-year-old Kenyan Patricia Chesang has worked closely with Rhodes in the last three years.
Dr. Patricia Chesang – Surgeon, AIC Kapsowar Mission Hospital:
“He’s going to leave a wonderful legacy. He has left his family, all the comfort he could have afford but he’s given of his life, of himself, to come and serve here, so for me it’s really humbling.”
Dr. Rhodes is honored this month with the AMH Gerson L’chaim prize for outstanding Christian medical missionary service. The annual prize comes with a $500,000 award, which will go toward the hospital, surgical work, and training.
Scott Marcello – President, African Mission Healthcare:
“He envisions the opportunity to train and raise up whole surgical teams, not just surgeons, but anesthetists, nurses, to go to these hard places where he’s now going and go and stay there.”
“You want to spend the rest of your life either here, in northwest Kenya, or somewhere on the continent.”
“Yeah, this is the end of the rainbow for us, Very few people get to really do what they really want to do. We bless God, every day, because we know we actually are in that little minority that is actually getting to do exactly what we wanted to do.”
Source: Global News Alliance, Missionary Doctor brings compassionate care to rural Kenya and beyond