Committed to Christ-centered Care
By Kacey Heinlein, Volunteer, with Mike Chupp, Missionary,Kenya
Located in Bomet, Kenya,Tenwek Hospital is one of the most advanced mission hospitals in Africa. It has open heart and joint replacement surgery capabilities as well as comprehensive eye care services, sophisticated endoscopy, dedicated GI cancer research, a busy HIV/AIDS clinic, complex pediatrics resources, and family care medicine. But according to Dr. Mike Chupp, long-term medical director at Tenwek, two particular aspects make Tenwek stand out: its commitment to compassionate, Christ-centered healthcare, and its medical personnel’s focus on teamwork.
Christian doctors, nurses, and clinical officers provide primary care for half a million local people and referral care for over 5 million people in the region. Dr. Chupp considers the staff’s spiritual ministry focus the number one reason Tenwek has been blessed, saying that “a doctor is in an incredible position to address spiritual needs as well as physical ones.”
Tenwek is also a means for God to take care of people in Africa beyond Kenya. Baby Elah is the daughter of a pastor in Ghana. She was named after the valley in the Bible where David faced Goliath. Soon after her birth, Elah’s parents found that she had a severe heart defect. Her parents learned of the care available at Tenwek. They were able to fly Elah to Kenya to have the operation, where Dr. Agneta Odera, a future pediatric surgeon who advanced from a medical intern to chief surgery resident while training at Tenwek, performed the surgery. The heart defect was closed during open heart surgery, and Elah had an amazing recovery.
“God got her all the way to Kenya, and she had open heart surgery to the glory of God,” Dr. Chupp said.
The medical staff at Tenwek is made up of roughly equal numbers of Kenyan and American doctors, a ratio that has evened out in recent years due to Tenwek’s focus on training. Where in America one doctor will make rounds to check on patients, doctors at Tenwek work in teams of four to six with experienced doctors instructing the less experienced. Even though Kenya has long been affected by intertribal struggles, Tenwek is a place where many different professionals come together to serve and learn.
Some medical staff come to Tenwek for the opportunity to learn, and others come in response to God’s calling. Dr. Chupp shared that he is “absolutely amazed and humbled” to work with both the American and national doctors at Tenwek.
“These,” he said, “are some of God’s very blessed servants.”
GO: Tenwek Hospital receives many volunteers each year. Are you looking for a hands-on experience in medical missions? Contactrecruiting@wgm.org to learn more.