This is a guest post from Dr. Jon Pollock, originally featured on his personal blog.  Dr. Pollock is a staff surgeon at Myungsung Christian Medical Center in Addis Ababa, our sister hospital.  Our surgery residents, including Dr. Daniel Gidabo, train at both facilities: here in Soddo and at MCM in Addis.  (In fact, Dr. Pollock himself previously served as one of our staff surgeons here!)  The following is his account of Dr. Daniel’s graduation:

Dr. Daniel surrounded by our staff surgeons and current PAACS residents

Last Saturday, we celebrated the graduation of the sixth PAACS resident in Ethiopia.   Dr. Daniel Gidabo finished his five years of training in general surgery at the end of August.   Daniel has taken a position as a surgeon in his hometown, a city of more than 100,000 people that has not had a full time surgeon in a very long time.   There Daniel will have the opportunity to treat hundreds and thousands of people who otherwise would have died without surgery.   We are very proud of Daniel and his accomplishments.  He has a well deserved reputation as a bold and effective evangelist and has led literally hundreds of people to Christ during our time with us.

Dr. Pollock speaking at the graduation ceremony

During my remarks at his graduation ceremony, I spoke to Daniel from Psalm 34, one of my favorite Psalms.  It begins with triumphant words of praise.

I will extol the Lord at all times;

His praise will always be on my lips.

My soul will boast in the Lord;

let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

Glorify the Lord with me;

let us exalt his name together.

These words were particularly appropriate for this day.   We praise God for what he has done for us.   When Daniel started his training five years ago, he had no guarantees that his work would amount to anything.   The PAACS program in Ethiopia was not accredited at that time.   There was little hope that this little upstart program would ever amount to anything.   Fast forward five years and we are accredited by both the Ethiopian Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa.  We have expanded from one hospital to two and have tripled the number of residents in the program.  This is only because of what God has done to bless the work he has called us to do.  Praise God for what he had done. I sought the Lord, and he answered me;

He delivered me from all my fears.

I assured Daniel that there will be times that he will be afraid.  Fear is an integral part of being a surgeon, particularly in the first year starting out on your own in practice.  I urged him to seek after the Lord, and He would deliver him from all his fears.  Delivery from fears comes with another promise if we look to him.

Those who look to him are radiant;

their faces are never covered with shame.

I encouraged Daniel to look to Him and be radiant.

This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;

He saved him out of all his troubles.

I reminded Daniel that his hometown has been without a surgeon for years and that people were crying for help.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;

blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. 

As PAACS surgeons, this is as essential to our lives as anything we do in the operating room.   We have the unbelievable privilege to invite people to “taste and seek” that the Lord is good.   I encouraged Daniel to continue to be bold in his witness.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord delivers them;

He delivers them from all their troubles. 

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Finally, I told Daniel that as surgeons in Ethiopia, if we let ourselves, our hearts will be broken and our spirits crushed.   There are so many challenges, so much pain and disease, so much death that if we are not careful, we can become hardened and uncaring.  But as painful as it can be, we must allow our hearts to remain soft and able to be broken, because the pain, disease and death that we face everyday, breaks the heart of God.