The work has only begun...

Each morning, before the clinic would begin, we would gather to pray and sing.  Pst. Peter Kaunda led us this particular morning in singing the hymn "To God Be The Glory".   Indeed, to God be the glory!  

As I sit here one week removed from our medical mission trip to Voi, I am somewhat overwhelmed.  It seems that each year God expands the reach and scope of our mission-adventure.  When Dr. Hudgens joined JHM for medical missions ~15 years ago, he was the only physician seeing all the patients.  When I joined 5 years ago, my first mission trip was to Kisii.  At that time our teams had grown to 6 physicians and a handful of nurses.  The pharmacy was run by one of the nurses.  Upon arrival into town, we searched for the best place to host the clinic and that year the local police chief opened up his "office" for us to use.  

By God's purpose and grace, He has grown this mission effort beyond our wildest expectations.  Now, before we go into a city (and with your generous donations!), we build a new church building that will be used as the medical clinic and will serve as the new church plant.  

In Kisii, our first church service was held under a small tent.  

This year, in Voi, the first church service (and medical clinic) were held in a new church building.

 2015 Voi, church building

2015 Voi, church building

By meeting the physical needs of a community, it opens up door to meet spiritual needs.  Years ago, Dr. Kabachia had this vision.  Dr. Hudgens, spurred by God's call to reach the nations, joined alongside to deliver free medical care.  And the work has been multiplied over and over.  

This year, we took a team of 20 missionaries from the United States.  We were met in Kenya by several Kabachia family members including Mama Liza (Jennifer), Liza, Libby and Steven.  Liza currently works as a pharmacist in Birmingham, and Libby is a pre-med student.  We were joined by the largest Kenyan team ever to join us for a mission trip, over 40+ Agape church leaders from all over Kenya.  Once assembled, we became a small army.  

In the course of 5 days, we saw approximately 1800 patients.  We gave out vitamins to everyone, dewormed all adults and kids, doled out lots of tylenol and motrin, and treated many different types of infections, wounds, and ailments.   We did see a handful of cases of malaria, although it wasn't as prevalent as in previous years.  Our first malaria patient came to us at the end of the first day of clinic.   You can see a picture of her in another post with her positive malaria test.  She came to us on the back of a motorcycle.  Pastor McDonald Munga came up to me and said, "this one is sick and needs to be seen."  I hesitated at first because we had already shut down the clinic, packed up all the medicines and were about to leave.  He insisted and I walked over to talk to her.  I should not have hesitated... Munga was right.  She had been running fever and could hardly walk.  I touched her forehead... she definitely had a fever.  I grabbed Jennifer Junkin and asked her to run a malaria test.  Immediately it turned positive.  We gave her the first dose of malaria medication, motrin, and a bottle of water.  She rested for a few minutes.  Her friends helped her on the back of the motorcycle that brought her and drove home.  

The first two days were somewhat slower than expected in the clinic... at least that's what I thought.  In reality, we had 9 physicians seeing patients and we were seeing them so quickly that it seemed "slow."  Because of this, Bishop Evans and Dr. Hudgens decided we should split the teams and go out to bless some of the smaller Agape churches in the area.  On Friday, a small team traveled to Bura and Saturday to Msau.  

 Jennifer Junkin visiting with one of the children in a Bura in Taita Taveta clinic.  She wrote on her Facebook page "These two little ones will always be in my heart. The first little girl is named Mercy and needs brain surgery. The second little boy was constantly having seizures as I held him. Both had the most amazing smiles! Neither of their moms could afford to take them to a hospital for treatment but they still had the most amazing faith. I will never forget!"

Jennifer Junkin visiting with one of the children in a Bura in Taita Taveta clinic.  She wrote on her Facebook page "These two little ones will always be in my heart. The first little girl is named Mercy and needs brain surgery. The second little boy was constantly having seizures as I held him. Both had the most amazing smiles! Neither of their moms could afford to take them to a hospital for treatment but they still had the most amazing faith. I will never forget!"

 My friend, George Nyandika, is excited to be in Msau!  

My friend, George Nyandika, is excited to be in Msau!  

Having the opportunity to bless THREE separate locations in one mission trip is a tremendous blessing.  It not only strengthens the local church but encourages them.  Although they may seem remote, they are not alone.  They are not just a church.  But WE are THE Church (capital C).   And they were grateful we came.  

I would be remiss if I did not mention my friend, Timothy Maina.  I was greatly encouraged by his boldness in winning souls for Christ.  He was my interpreter in Msau.  I made it a point throughout the week to ask each patient, "Do you know why I've come to Kenya?"  It opened a door to share with them that Jesus loved them.  Timothy would ask them this question for me in Swahili.  He would have a back-and-forth dialogue with the patient.  He would then look at me and say, "he does not know Jesus and wants to pray for salvation."  Throughout the day, with great boldness, he ensured that everyone he touched had the opportunity to be born again. 

At the Msau clinic, I heard some disturbance at the triage area of the clinic.  I overheard someone say that a patient was having an asthma attack.  Ugh!  Just a few minutes prior, we had depleted our prednisone stock in the pharmacy!  Albuterol and prednisone are the mainstays of treatment for an asthma attack.  As they walked her back, she was sweating profusely and was having severe distress.  I could audibly hear the inspiratory and expiratory wheezing without my stethoscope.  I sat there thinking, "what is the world are we going to do for her in Msau!?!"  Epinephrine!  Yes, Dr. Jeff Jones reminded me that we brought a small amount of epinephrine for allergic reactions.  "Draw it up!  0.3mg 1:1000 epinephrine IM now!"  The patient was restless and could not sit still -- a sign of respiratory distress.  Timothy came up to me and said, "we should pray for healing over her."  I agreed but mostly out of desperation... what else could we do for her?  Timothy stood over her and I sat next to her.  We laid on hands on her and he prayed for her.  After we prayed, I sat down with Timothy to see more patients.   It would take 10-15 minutes to see if the medicine worked.  After seeing another patient, I walked over to the pharmacy to see her.  She was sitting comfortably.  The sweating had stopped.  I took my stethoscope and placed it on her chest wall.  Deep breath in and out.  No wheezing.  Through an interpreter, she said that she felt much better.  She sat there for another 30 minutes and walked out of the clinic healed.

This is a testimony of Timothy's faith, the effectiveness of prayer and God's power to heal.  Epinephrine is a powerful drug and works wonders for allergic reactions and asthma exacerbations.  God brought our team to Msau on Saturday, January 24th.  And at the intersection of obedience, prayer and faith, this woman was healed.  

Stories like this abound from a week in Kenya.  

As the dust (almost literally) settles from a weeklong flurry of medical clinics, nightly crusades and revival meetings, many of us are still recovering and processing how such an experience will shape our lives.  I am left with a two conclusions that I'd like to share.  But first a question.

What are you doing today that requires faith?  This was a question that was asked to me recently.   Do I have "control" over all of the things in my life, or do I give God enough room to work and move?  Am I putting myself into situations that force me to trust Him?  For many on our mission team, this experience takes us from our Western comfort zones and stretches us.  It sharpens our spiritual senses.  It is incredibly refreshing and helps me to look for God working in my day-to-day life back in the US.

The work has only begun.  

On Sunday, January 25th, Pastor Jackson and his wife were commissioned by Bishop Evans Achange as the pastor of the new church in Voi.  All of the planning, work, and preparation our our US medical team and Agape team culminated on Sunday when this new church plant was launched.  After the service was over, our small army left Voi and made their way back to Nairobi and to their homes.  But for Pastor Jackson, his wife, and the Agape leadership, the work has just started.  The church is planted in a Muslim community.  We saw many Muslims throughout the week in Voi and many came to new faith in Jesus.  Bishop Achange received word from Pst. Jackson just yesterday and let us know.  They had their first church service yesterday and they had 72 adults and 35 children in attendance!  Praise God for what He is doing already in Voi!  Continue to lift them up in your prayers.

We are already thinking and preparing for our mission trip next year!  If you are interested (or know of someone who is), let us know.  You can fill out an interest form online.  We will have a t-shirt fundraiser again this year to help you raise money.  We cannot wait to see what God does next year!