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Medicine Opening Doors to Ministry

Medicine Opening Doors to Ministry

“Medicine has a whole different way of introducing conversations,” relates Bethany,* a doctor and a Christar appointee preparing to go to the Middle East. “Talking about health challenges brings vulnerable things to the surface, and then I am able to speak life to those who need it.”

Bethany became interested in medicine at the age of 11 when an uncle suggested a career in that field might be a good fit for her interest in working with children. Now, as a family medicine physician, she considers caring for the children who come to her office to be her favorite part of her job.

That’s not to say it’s always been a fun or easy journey. Bethany loved science, and in high school found the human body fascinating. But after she trusted in Christ at the age of 17, she begged God for a career outside of the medical field because she didn’t want to complete the many years of school that would be required to become a doctor.

“But God reassured me this is the path He has for me,” Bethany recalls. “He called my heart to peace and submission to His plan.” As she walked through the imposing arched gateway of her medical school every day during her first year, Bethany constantly felt reminded that “God really did this!!”

During college Bethany went overseas for the first time, and she was quickly smitten with the traveling bug. And, as she got a taste of ministry and medical work in Venezuela, she realized the possibility of serving cross-culturally as a medical professional.

After Bethany returned from South America, God used a Perspectives course, a requirement of a ministry-focused track she’d chosen for her medical residency, to give her more direction about the work He had in store for her. During that course, He laid a particular Middle Eastern country on her heart, and she spent the next six years researching and trying to figure out how to reach people from that nation.

At a Christian medical conference, Bethany met Dr. Dave, a Christar worker who shared how he intentionally practiced medicine in a country that lacks abundant gospel witness but welcomes doctors trained in the United States. He explained that by living as a Christian in the context of his work, he sometimes has opportunities for conversations with people who are hungry for truth.

This further sparked Bethany’s interest in serving overseas long term. She wasn’t satisfied working as a doctor in America, where she says that practicing medicine is more about checking boxes and bureaucracy than about caring for patients. The following year, at the same conference, she looked for Dr. Dave again to learn more about his work and officially began her journey toward overseas ministry.

As Bethany explored options for using her medical skills in cross-cultural service, God opened a door for her to go on a couple of short-term trips to the Middle East. Through them she actively participated with a local church that was involved in ministry among displaced people from the country God had impressed upon her! During outreaches to refugees’ homes, Bethany’s presence on the visitation team enabled the local church to provide basic medical care such as checking blood pressure.

Bethany found it most meaningful to help people with chronic issues such as infertility or anxiety and depression. She explains that both mental and reproductive health are heavily stigmatized in the Middle East, and refugees have little to no access to local health care. “In that position, I can’t just prescribe pills,” Bethany shares. “I have to use a holistic approach to mental health, discussing how to handle the struggles through [means such as] prayer, praise and worship.”

In June 2021, Bethany took part in Christar’s Pre-Departure Orientation, one of her final steps before leaving for the field. She plans to return after Thanksgiving to the country where she already has some roots to complete a couple years of language study, during which she’ll continue her home visits with her local church there.

Bethany will not be able to officially practice medicine in that country, however, because the government does not hire foreigners in licensed clinics. So, once she has a good foundation in the language of the region, she plans to move to another country in the Middle East where she will be able to utilize her professional skills in the marketplace while also reaching out to people’s hearts and souls.

For both Bethany and Dr. Dave, practicing medicine is not merely a job. By choosing to live and work in least-reached communities, intentionally pursuing their vocations for the sake of the gospel, they have daily opportunities to demonstrate their faith among people who need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

Participate by Praying:

  • Pray for Bethany as she moves overseas and adjusts to living in a new culture and learning a new language.
  • Pray for her local church in the Middle East and its outreaches to refugees in the area, asking God to bring forth fruit from the prayer times and Bible studies the members of this congregation have with hurting people.
  • Ask God to lead more professionals like Bethany to use their careers as opportunities to live out the gospel among the least-reached.

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