Photo: A Kenyan doctor and a North American doctor consult over a patient during the short-term team’s visit to Kenya’s coastal region.
“‘What would you like us to do?’ asked the Rev. Paul Short of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau, Mo. He was visiting with parish leaders, pastors, evangelists, and partner ministry representatives on the coast of Kenya. Pastor Short’s congregation in the United States is part of the Congregation Connect program that The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) encourages for LCMS congregations eager to be involved in short-term mission trips abroad. They key feature of the program is the long-term relationship with the national church under the guidance of deployed missionary staff.
“Last year, St. Andrew’s made their first team visit to the coastal region with a hugely successful vacation Bible school. At the end of that trip, Pastor Short asked, ‘What would you like us to do?’ The consensus formed — meeting the medical needs of the community will benefit the community, raise awareness of the church, generate goodwill and provide huge opportunities for outreach. Thus, St. Andrew’s returned to the coastal region with a team of 12, the majority of the team being medical personnel — both doctors and nurses.
“In close collaboration with the district hospital personnel, the local government dispensary, and a private doctor who works in the village, the team saw more than 1,000 patients in the course of five clinic days. Every American doctor was paired up with a Kenyan doctor or nurse for translation and consultation. As many supplies as possible — and all of the medications — were procured locally to support the local economy. The team treated everything from malaria to elephantitis to trauma. With rare exception, everyone whose condition was treatable with medication received medicine on the spot. Patients referred to the district hospital had their transportation and care provided according to the treatability of their condition.
“This was a stunning partnership and a huge blessing to the community. But providing for the medical needs of the moment is only part of the story. Every patient who was treated heard the Gospel message. Some patients who could read and write signed up for the Lutheran Hour Ministries’ Bible Correspondence Course. Some pledged to join the church. Some patients heard the Gospel and professed a new faith on the spot! Praise the Lord for healing of the body and soul!”