My Grown-Up Christmas List (2020)

Back by popular demand… My Grown Up Christmas List! And just in time for Giving Tuesday. We may all have a Grown Up 2020 Christmas List this year with wishes like a COVID cure, an end to social distancing, and political peace!

This 1992 classic Christmas song (can I call it that?!) by Amy Grant is one of my favorites, as it takes my memory back to a time when I was beginning life as a “grown up” yet in retrospect, a time that was so simple and sweet! She sings about having outgrown the simplistic Christmas wishes of childhood and dreaming now of the intangible “gifts” that bring about a better world… peace on earth, an end to loneliness, healing of the human soul, unending love… Looking beyond ourselves and to a world in need. Isn’t this the very essence of Christmas? That God in His deep love for us found a way to rescue our human souls and bring LIGHT to a dark world… And now we, as His ambassadors, are to be that LIGHT to others, sharing the promise of His hope and love.

In sitting down to write about our grown-up wishes this year, it jumped out ironically to me that this song is from the album entitled “Home for Christmas”… We have moved from Kenya back to the USA, and “home” is currently a confusing and debated topic in our little family. As we seek to form new traditions and engage in our new community, our hearts are still tightly bound to our Kenyan community, and to the needs in which we have invested deeply over the past seven years.

If you have followed our family’s story at all, then you know that training surgeons for Africa is the “WHY” of why we moved to Kenya in 2014.  So many African communities do not have access to basic surgical care, which brings a heavy burden of disease and death. At Tenwek through the PAACS training program, we had the privilege of training young doctors who are followers of Jesus and desire to use their gifts and abilities to serve the needs of their local communities and train others. It is a true multiplying ministry! Almost all of the surgeons who graduated during our six years there are working in mission hospitals and/or training other surgeons and young doctors. Three of our graduates (Drs. Blasto, Mbithi, and Kanyi) even joined together and started their own faith-based residency program at another mission hospital. And Heath turned over the Tenwek program leadership to one of our graduates, Dr. Liz Mwachiro. Although the Lord led our path back to the USA for now, we see this change in location as an evolution of our ministry, not a cessation. The “WHY” that led us to Africa still exists. We have faith that the Lord will work through our Kenyan colleagues to continue this vision. And we will stay involved in ways that empower and support them in their work.

One of the best ways we can help support this ministry is to continue to raise awareness of the need and finances to keep it going. It is expensive to train doctors. This faith-based training program depends completely on donations. So many of you have invested with us in this vision over the past several years!

Will you consider giving again this year toward this multiplying mission of training young doctors in Kenya to bring the love and hope of Jesus to their communities through compassionate and high-quality healthcare?

This is an investment like no other, a gift that truly keeps on giving for many years to come with both direct and eternal rewards!

Give to the Surgery Residency Fund to support the ongoing cost of training young surgeons at Tenwek. Two new residents, Ian Simel and Oscar Rotich, will join the eight other general surgery trainees in January.

Or give to the OB/GYN Residency Fund to support the NEW program expected to start in July. We are so excited to see this vision of ministry put in place to train OB/GYN specialists. Maternal and newborn care is a greatly neglected field in much of Africa, and this will be the first training program of its kind!

We remain volunteers with WGM and will keep a ministry account as well, which we will be using to help support needs that arise in the OB/GYN and Surgery residency programs throughout the year.

Click on any of these three links above to go directly to that online giving page. 100% of your donations will go to support these projects.

Heath with Dr. Liz Mwachiro (current General Surgery Program Director)
Dr. Yvonne Wekesa (center right), OB/GYN faculty, operating with residents.
Heath and Angela visiting with Drs. Kanyi, Blasto, and Mbithi (left to right), Tenwek alumni who started a surgery residency program at Litein AIC Mission Hospital in 2020.
Drs. Orwa, Sinkeet, and Kimutai…The three general surgeons who will graduate this month.

This Christmas season, I pray that God’s LIGHT will AWAKEN our souls to His work all around us, SHINE into the darkest corners or our hearts and minds, and POUR out to others.

THANK YOU for investing prayers, time, and funding into our ministry at Tenwek Hospital over the years, and THANK YOU for considering ongoing support of these endeavors.

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds…For with you is the fountain of life; in your LIGHT do we see light. ~Psalm 36: 5,9

Again Jesus spoke to them saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” ~John 8:12

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