Sibanor health clinic the gambia 3200

The doctor is in!



Story

6 minute read

A short-term cross-cultural experience with WEC can be a great opportunity to see if God might be calling you to serve him overseas in the longer term. And if you have specific professional skills, these can be hugely valuable for mission, as Andy discovered …

I remember God answering my prayers clearly when I was only seven years old. As I grow older and more knowledgeable (if not wiser), I still find God to be completely trustworthy and true.

In fact, I find John 3:16 to be more and more true and rational, and no other explanation of life on earth is as likely, edifying or exciting. My experience in the Gambia has only made me more convinced of that than ever.

New opportunities

I qualified as a GP years ago, with the intention of serving as a doctor abroad. After postgraduate training and Bible College, I worked in Papua New Guinea with my young family. However, after two years there, it was clear we were meant to return to the UK. I thought this would be to train further and then go overseas again, but that didn’t happen. Now, as my adult sons leave home, this trip to The Gambia was an exploration of whether God wanted my wife and me to serve overseas once more.

Sibanor Health Clinic

My family worked alongside WEC in Liberia back in the 1970s, and I trained with WECers at All Nations Bible College. I have always been impressed with their gentle witness, inviting all people to know and walk with their heavenly Father. So serving with WEC was an easy choice.

“This trip to The Gambia was an exploration of whether God wanted my wife and me to serve overseas once more.”

While in The Gambia, I worked at the Sibanor Health Clinic for two months. Sibanor is about an hour-and-a-half’s drive inland from the coast. The clinic, started by WEC roughly 50 years ago, is now managed by the Gambian Church and includes medical and paediatric wards, a midwife-led delivery unit, medical outpatients and a minor injuries unit.

Waiting room sibanor health clinic square

Anxious mum in the waiting room at Sibanor Health Clinic.

Students sibonor health clinic the gambia square

The clinic trains doctors and nurses.

Challenges and answers to prayer

I want to live a life that blesses others and that is really all about relationships and friendships. Yet, human relationships are rarely easy. The main lesson I took from my time in Sibanor was how much a language barrier is an added difficulty. Two months is hardly enough time to get to grips with a language, and this is especially true for me, as I’m linguistically challenged anyway. In the Sibanor area, there are three local languages and, after a few weeks, I realised I was completely muddled even about which words came from what language.

I remember one lovely, shy, young patient who was admitted with severe chronic illness. He was initially very withdrawn but, with some friendly (though limited) language, he gradually opened up and we were able to pray together. He asked for an electronic version of a gospel to take home.”

Amid the challenges, there were many answers to prayer. I often prayed about the potential for human error (especially doctor error) to cause problems for patients. That is especially significant when working in an unfamiliar situation and with different drugs. This prayer was answered a few times when Dr Margret pointed out things to me, which were definitely to the patients’ benefit.

And I remember one lovely, shy, young patient who was admitted with severe chronic illness. He was initially very withdrawn but, with some friendly (though limited) language, he gradually opened up and we were able to pray together. He asked for an electronic version of a gospel to take home, which was definitely an answer to prayer too.

Sibanor health clinic baby care gambia

A Gambian doctor works at the clinic's mother and baby care unit.

What’s next?

My time in The Gambia was definitely worthwhile: I gained much more than I gave through learning from colleagues. But for me, the main result has been a kick for my wife and me to be more intentional in seeking God’s plan for the next chapter in our life.

I would certainly recommend going on a short-term mission trip. The whole process of it helps you walk closer with God, challenges your outlook and helps you learn something more of the broader picture of what God is doing. Who knows where on earth it might lead?

Do you have a skill that you could use to serve another nation? Perhaps you, too, could use your profession abroad. If you think God might be calling you to short term mission, check out our dedicated Short Term area of this website and you can email us to find out more about our various placements.

Find out more about our Short Term / Gap Year ministry

WEC’s Short Term programme is geared to fuel your passion for God through a hands-on experience.

For a Solo Trek, we aim to match your gifts and time-frame for a short-term cross-cultural faith-filled adventure with God. We will place you alongside an experienced missionary in any one of over 80 countries, where you can serve God, share the good news and grow in your faith.

Alongside Solo Trek, we encourage Church Teams to organise and run your own short term cross-cultural trip. Feel free to get in touch if you would welcome some tips to get you started.

Read more about Short Term / Gap Year here.

We need you to get involved

Take your first step with WEC. Go on a Short Term placement with us.

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