I clearly remember the Summer of 2010. My two children, aged 6 and 5, were playing on the sandy beach of Lake Minnewaska. It was a beautiful evening, and I was happy. I was working as a family physician in a hospital in Glenwood, Minnesota. The team of doctors and nurses I had the joy of working with, were wonderful. My children loved their school, and our family attended an awesome church. Above all, we had many friends in the community who lovingly accepted us as part of their lives. However, as I looked at the beautiful sunset, I knew that this would be my last summer here. Several years ago, I had felt a clear call from God to be a medical missionary among the unreached and oppressed in South Asia. I knew it was time to go.
A BOLD DECISION
I was a teenager when I decided to follow Jesus Christ. My sister and I kept our respective conversions secret from our parents, who would definitely not approve.
A few years later, during my medical school training, I decided to publicly declare my faith through baptism. But, how would I tell my parents about this decision? They would definitely be angry. I did not know anyone in our entire clan of over a thousand families who had decided to follow Jesus and were baptized and as a result were not excommunicated. I was only a young girl in India. Where would I go? Yet, I also did not want to hide my decision from my parents, whom I loved very much. So, one weekend, when I was visiting home, I tentatively shared my decision. My father, a gentle man whom I adored, was very angry. My mother could not believe her ears. I was told very clearly that I would have no place in the family if I chose to be baptized. My twenty-year-old heart cried out in agony. I cried myself to sleep that night, thinking of the lines written by an Indian Christian facing rejection and persecution from his family, “… the cross before me and the world behind me…” After I was baptized, I called my mother. In agony she said, “I consider my daughter to be no more.”
One vacation, all the girls in my dormitory had gone home. Without a place to go, I stayed in my dorm, alone, like many other times in the past year. I lay on the cot and began to sing hymns in my native language. I began to weep as I sang one of them, “…my home and father and comforts are only in my Lord, and so I sing…” I felt something stirring with in me. A gentle call, which cannot be fully described, began to arise within me, asking me to lay down my life to serve Christ as medical missionary.
Statistics show there are less than 0.7 doctors for every 1000 people in India. And 80% of these doctors, according to reports, practice in cities and urban areas. Rural India is considerably underserved. It is estimated that more than a hundred thousand villages have no access to modern medicine. Tuberculosis, diarrheal disease, communicable diseases, and many hygiene-related illnesses are prevalent. Witch doctors and sorcerers are the most common healers in villages and tribes.
In 2004, God gave me the opportunity to come to Oklahoma and join a family medicine program to finish my residency. I then moved with my family to Minnesota, where I worked for just a little over three years before returning to India. Upon my return, I completed a second residency in general surgery. I was told that one of the greatest needs in medical missions is for female surgeons. A large number of Indian women, particularly in rural areas, do not go to male doctors, unless they are on the verge of dying.
In 2014, GET asked me to launch a medical ministry. GET has several mercy and justice ministries, which provide a second ring around its nucleus of church planting. Beginning medical work, in order to serve the poor and oppressed, was going to be challenging and interesting. I was scared and often trembled. However, I also could hear the Lord reminding me of His call. Today, the medical ministry of the GET serves the unreached and oppressed in these three ways:
- Dayspring Clinic: A Clinic along with a small operation theater started in 2017. This Dayspring Clinic is located in New Delhi, near the central office of IET. The clinic serves a large slum population in the area, as well as poor immigrants from various parts of India. Because private hospitals are too expensive and government hospitals have long wait times, most of our patients never go to a hospital, unless they become seriously ill. At present, about 40-50 patients come to our clinic each day. My training in the USA as a family medicine is a perfect fit here. More recently, as word of our center has circulated around New Delhi, middle class families are also coming, enabling Dayspring to be self-sufficient. Please pray for God to bring a second doctor to manage the growing number of patients and the evening clinic.
- Medical Camps: A few times each year, I host surgical or medical camps in remote regions of India. My training as a general surgeon is of great use in such fixative surgical camps. Last month, I was near the border of Nepal, leading a camp for poor and at risk children. A surgical camp is being planned among the Pawari tribe in the rural villages of Madhya Pradesh. Pray as we plan for this upcoming camp.
- Work with Sexually Trafficked Children : India is a hub for human trafficking, and several girls who are brought to New Delhi are children. As a Christian doctor who sincerely cares and provides comprehensive medical care, I have found that many shelters and government agencies have started to bring rescued girls to me. As one girl shared with me few days ago, “You treat us with love and listen to us. I find myself being treated like a human here.” I will share her story in a future newsletter.
HOPEFUL IN OBEDIENCE
Today, I was thinking about that summer day at Lake Minnewaska. I was very afraid to leave the comfort and security of USA and move back to India. I was also unsure of my own abilities and capacity to serve. However, I was never doubtful of my God and my call to be obedient to Him. I would greatly appreciate your prayers for myself, my family, and GET’s medical ministry. May we continue to see God open doors and open hearts as we step out and heed his call.
Please see the information given in the below box to make any donation for the medical ministry. Do mention ‘Dayspring’ in the purpose. Proceeds given this month will go towards purchasing much needed medical supplies and equipment’s. Thank you!